Technology addiction a growing problem

Technology addiction is a growing problem in Illinois and the rest of the world. As more people become dependent on technology, negative impacts on mental and physical health are increasing. The statistics are alarming, with the average person spending nearly nine hours a day in front of an electronic device. Cell phones are unlocked 150 times a day on average, and 72 percent of teens and nearly half of adults feel the need to immediately respond to texts and other notifications. Americans check their phones nearly 100 times a day, a 20 percent increase from a similar survey conducted two years ago. The statistics by demographic group are also eye-opening. 

Technology addiction is a broad term used to describe any obsessive tech-related behavior, whether it involves gaming, online shopping, social media use, video watching or texting. Teenagers are most vulnerable to technology addiction, with studies showing 45 percent are online almost constantly. The fallout from this behavior can include harmful repercussions, with ADHD, adolescent anxiety, depression and suicide risks included. 

Addictions to technology and devices can affect individuals and families in dangerous ways. A person’s career or education can be adversely affected, as focus that should be going to school or work-related tasks instead goes to digital usage. Digital addictions can also affect relationships and provide a breeding ground for isolation. These dependencies can lead to insomnia or poor sleep habits and increase stress levels. The most common types of technology addictions are gaming, social media, gambling, pornography, online shopping and work-related. 

In Illinois and nationwide, there are treatment centers, therapists, helplines, and camps that can identify and treat technology addictions, though more are needed. Therapists that are trained in internet addiction strive to learn the habits that trigger addiction episodes. They can work with individuals to identify unhealthy or irrational beliefs that could be factors, then provide tools for replacement and recovery. 

Illinois House Republicans have acknowledged the growing concerns related to technology addictions. Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) introduced legislation in 2021 to create the Technology Addiction Notice Act, which provides that an operator of a social media website must include on its website a hyperlink that directs users to resources related to technology addiction. House Republicans will continue to raise awareness to these issues and urge the General Assembly to take action.