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Addiction To Screen Time

Are you unable to leave a room without your phone? Do you check your phone constantly?

Do you check your email and Twitter feed before even getting up out of bed in the morning?

Do you panic when you can’t locate your phone?

If your answer is mostly ‘yes’, then chances are that you are at least overusing technology, or at worst suffering from an addiction to screen time.

You know that you have an enmeshed relationship with technology when it interferes with ‘normal’ life activities, like real time spent with friends and family, hygienic behaviour, meeting of deadlines at work, and chores at home. Tech addiction also has to do with spending more time in technologically based activities than planned. This is partly due to the fact that many online activities don’t have any stopping cues that tell us to move on and do something different. When we read a physical newspaper or magazine, it comes to an end. When we watch a tv show, it comes to and end. Yet, the newsfeed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram just rolls on and on; text messaging is in fact bottomless.

A young man wearing glasses looking at his phone intensely

Most of us are aware of the many reasons why technology should not be overused, like disrupted sleep patterns, lack of exercise, risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, eye and back strain, financial problems, job loss and relationship problems. However, do we ever consider the sacrifice we make in terms of our own personal time. Personal time is sacred time, time to reflect deeply, time to be ourselves, time to grow on a personal level. Personal time is our free time, our time to contemplate life, to think creatively about our life, to listen to our inner self, to connect to the force of life within us. Yet we lay this magical time at the feet of our technological devices, sacrificing our deepest need, which is to connect with self.

Why do we harm ourselves in this way? It becomes a way to escape problematic life circumstances and relationships, a way to avoid dealing with difficult situations. It gives us a feeling of connectedness when in reality we are feeling disconnected and lonely. It gives us a feeling of status and trendiness, of being taken seriously and listened to, when really we are suffering with low self esteem. It allows us to feel in control, when we feel overwhelmed by life. It allows us to create a different persona, an image of the person we would have liked to be, when we are unhappy with who we are. It hides our poor social skills allowing us to connect with people through other means. It becomes a way to dull pain, both physically and emotionally It allows us to stay anonymous, thereby guarding ourselves from being evaluated by others. It helps us to feel alive, when inside we are feeling down and depressed.

Balance is key. Imbalance needs to be addressed. We need to become conscious of the specific reasons underlying our over dependence on technology. Here in lies the gift….emerging from the state of ‘unconsciousness’ that our overuse of technology keeps us in, addressing the underlying causes like lack of self esteem, problematic relationships etc. and receiving the personal growth and sense of true connection with self and life itself.
It is advisable to make use of a Psychologist specializing in addiction as a guide on your healing journey. Your Psychologist will help you to unpack and explore the psychological reasons underpinning your addiction, be a witness to your healing journey, and offer
containment and emotional safety as you transition from unconsciousness into enlightenment.

by Dr Lize www.healingthemind.co.za

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