Digital Toxicity and Smartphone Addiction
Do you feel panic when you realize your phone isn’t in arms reach? Do you feel frustration and anger if the internet is down or you find yourself somewhere without WI-FI? The overuse of digital devices that interferes with our daily lives as well as the use of digital devices that causes anxiety, fear, dread, or overdependence is known as digital toxicity. Digital toxicity has become a widespread concern as 1 in 5 Americans report that technology use is a source of stress for them.
Similar to digital toxicity, smartphone addiction is an overdependence on or overuse of digital devices, specifically the smartphone. A smartphone addiction can interfere with your daily tasks and attention, such as driving, working, sleeping, and being aware of your surroundings. If left untreated, a smartphone addiction can cause harm to yourself and others.
Digital toxicity or smartphone addiction can interfere with our performance at work or school, developing and maintaining personal relationships, and even our safety and wellbeing. For instance, texting while driving poses a threat to yourself and others, and is an example of dangerous digital toxicity as the driver’s use of a smartphone is interfering with the task of driving safely.
It is important to recognize if you are experiencing digital toxicity or smartphone addiction and to take steps to help yourself regain independence from digital devices.
Digital Toxicity and Smartphone Addiction Symptoms
If you or someone you know are struggling with digital toxicity or smartphone addiction, you may display some of the following symptoms:
Emotional Responses to Digital Toxicity and Smartphone Addiction
If someone is experiencing digital toxicity or smartphone addiction, how is their emotional health impacted? There are several emotional responses to digital toxicity and smartphone addiction, including the following:
Creating Healthy Boundaries with Digital Devices
Healthy boundaries are constructs that we live by based on our values. We all develop boundaries differently in all areas of our lives — boundaries with friends, family, coworkers, food, exercise, and so forth. If we fail to create boundaries or honor them, we risk becoming powerless in that area of our lives. In order to maintain control of our behaviors and emotions, and to ensure that they are in alignment with our values, we must create healthy boundaries for ourselves.
With the amount of information available on the ways in which smartphones and other digital devices impact our emotional wellbeing, personal relationships, and work performance, it is important that we now consider establishing healthy boundaries with our digital devices as well. Below are the ways in which we may do so:
While these suggestions will not remove the use of smartphones or other digital devices in your life, they can help create healthy boundaries around how you use such devices and how much you use them.
There is no doubt that technology is here to stay and that there are very real benefits and advantages to using digital devices; but there is also no doubt that their overuse can lead to addiction and digital toxicity. Begin by assessing your use of digital devices and whether you may benefit from creating healthier boundaries in this area of your life.