Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Digital Addiction.

April 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Health, News, Opinion, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

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(“SAN FRANCISCO — It’s well-known that smartphone, or more broadly, digital addiction can result in many negative mental effects on people over time. Recent research even found it creates a brain imbalance in teens. Now a new study finds that over-attachment to your phone can cause serious social problems — boosting feelings of loneliness and isolation — while worsening anxiety and depression symptoms. Smartphones have become useful, everyday tools that essentially manage our daily lives. From calendars to calorie monitors to sleep aids, smartphone owners find themselves constantly glancing at their screens from the minute they wake up to the seconds before hitting the sack.

Whether it’s reading push notifications, responding to dings and vibrations, or constantly refreshing one’s Facebook newsfeed on the go, the need for phone time is becoming a more serious problem…Researchers behind the study, conducted at San Francisco State University, liken smartphone addiction to opioid dependency, arguing that overuse of a mobile device is no different from substance abuse.”Smartphone Addiction Increases Loneliness, Isolation; No Different From Substance Abuse, Experts Say

Western society is extremely addictive. Due to cunning marketing campaigns, social engineering and the mass manipulation of our tastes, desires, drives, values and lifestyle, we in the West are becoming more and more like zombies, mindlessly living day to day responding to the stimuli put out and controlled by the 1% and their minions.  Recent studies and testimonies by the developers and CEOs of some of the largest telecommunications and high tech companies have revealed that gadgets and gizmos as well as social media itself are having a deleterious affect on us personally and collectively. The overuse of digital devices is having a negative impact on us physically and psychologically.

“A recent study by Korean scientists discovered that young people addicted to their smartphones or the internet have brain chemical imbalances.

The research team led by Dr. Hyung Suk Seo, a professor of neuroradiology at Korea University in South Korea, used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to examine the immediate effect on the brains of smartphone- and internet-addicted teenagers. MRS is a type of MRI that detects chemical changes in the brain. The study involved 38 teenagers about 15 or 16 years old. Half of them (10 females, nine males) had been diagnosed with smartphone or internet addiction, while the other half — the control group — was deemed otherwise healthy. Researchers used standardized tests to measure the severity of the teens’ addiction, questioning them on how smartphones or internet interfered with their daily routines, productivity, and mental health…

The researchers found that the addicted teenagers showed more signs and indications of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and impulsivity, according to Dr. Seo. One chemical the researchers looked for changes in before and after the cognitive behavioral therapy was gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a neurotransmitter that slows or speeds up brain signals and regulates anxiety. They also examined the glutamate-glutamine (Glx) activity in the participants, which causes neurons to become more electrically excited. They found that the ratio of GABA to Glx was notably higher in the screen-addicted teens compared to the healthy ones.” Doctor: teens Addicted To Smartphone Internet Have Brain Imbalance

Many are becoming alarmed that smart technology and “social media” are dumbing us down and atrophying our social and group interaction skills. “According to a 2011 Pew Research Center poll, cell-phone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 send or receive an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day, whereas all adults (18 and older) exchange a daily average of 41.5 messages, with a median of only 10 texts daily. As for social media, a 2015 report compiled by the marketing agency We Are Social estimated that more than two billion people—over a quarter of the world’s population—have active social media accounts.

For a species hardwired for social connection, that should be a wonderful thing. And yet the rise of social media and technology has coincided with an apparent decline in mental health. In 2014 psychologist Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University analyzed data from nearly seven million teenagers and adults across the U.S. and found that more people reported symptoms of depression in recent years than they did in the 1980s. Teens, in particular, are now 74 percent more likely to have trouble sleeping and twice as likely to see a professional for mental health issues. According to a 2016 fact sheet from the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of disability globally, affecting 350 million people worldwide.

There are certainly many intervening factors that may be driving this global trend, but we do have preliminary research linking depression with social media usage. In 2014 Mai-Ly Steers of the University of Houston and her colleagues surveyed 180 college students and found that the more time these subjects spent on Facebook, the more likely they were to experience mild depressive symptoms. The researchers attributed the link to the psychological phenomenon known as social comparison—and comparing our lives to others can seem particularly harsh online, where people tend to post only the highlights. In a 2014 study, social psychologists Christina Sagioglou and Tobias Greitemeyer, both at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, found another reason why people can feel down after Facebook sessions: they feel that the time spent is not meaningful.”  Generation Z Online and at Risk?

It is important to maintain real social connections not the illusion of friends, computer generated avatars and networks just as it is important to feel a genuine sense of gratification and meaning in our lives. Social media cannot provide this no matter how many “friends” you have or how much time you spend Online! Life is not a spectator sport we have to be engaged in meaningful relationships and activities. Online voyeurism and superficial media linkages are not what we need to live fulfilling, meaningful purpose driven lives.  Digital technology is a tool; do not allow it to become your master or a pusher for your addictions.

Written by Junious Ricardo Stanton

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