Technology Addiction

April 20, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 15
Is obsessive computer use a mental health disorder?
By Susan Ladika

Introduction

A street sign in New York City (Cover: Getty Images/Barcroft Media/Laurentiu Garofeanu)
A street sign in New York City warns pedestrians to stay off their smartphones when crossing the street. Some experts say the obsessive use of handheld devices constitutes a mental health disorder, but others argue it typically stems from anxiety or some other underlying condition. (Cover: Getty Images/Barcroft Media/Laurentiu Garofeanu)

Some addiction specialists contend that the overuse of video games, social media or other online technology can affect the brain in the same way drug or alcohol dependency does. But other experts question whether an obsessive use of technology meets the clinical definition of addiction. They argue that overuse of technology typically stems from an underlying condition, such as anxiety, depression or attention deficit disorder. Some industry insiders say technology companies such as Facebook design their products to be addictive, which company executives deny. Child advocates and some politicians want the government to do more to address the potential harm of technology overuse, and countries such as South Korea and China have established government-sponsored treatment centers for teens and young adults considered tech-addicted. The American Psychiatric Association has not linked technology overuse with standard medical definitions of addiction but says internet gaming needs further study. The National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, is funding a study on whether online gaming is addictive.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Computers
Apr. 20, 2018  Technology Addiction
Oct. 06, 2017  Cyberwarfare Threat
Feb. 26, 2016  Virtual Reality
Feb. 12, 2016  Video Games and Learning
Jan. 15, 2016  The Dark Web
Feb. 15, 2013  Improving Cybersecurity
Apr. 13, 2012  Internet Regulation
Sep. 16, 2011  Computer Hacking
Sep. 24, 2010  Impact of the Internet on Thinking
Feb. 26, 2010  Cybersecurity
Aug. 01, 2008  Internet Accuracy
May 02, 2008  Cyberbullying
Jul. 28, 2006  Cyber Socializing
May 12, 2006  Controlling the Internet
Jun. 10, 2005  Identity Theft
Sep. 17, 2004  Cyberpolitics
Sep. 26, 2003  Cybersecurity
Apr. 12, 2002  Cyber-Crime
Oct. 27, 2000  Computers and Medicine
May 26, 2000  Future of Computers
Jan. 28, 2000  The Digital Divide
Feb. 05, 1999  Digital Commerce
Jun. 30, 1995  Regulating the Internet
May 21, 1993  Software Piracy
Sep. 30, 1988  Management's High-Tech Challenge
Jan. 09, 1987  Power Surge in Personal Computers
Feb. 13, 1981  The Computer Age
Nov. 03, 1978  America's Information Boom
Jan. 06, 1978  Computer Crime
May 12, 1971  Reappraisal of Computers
Jul. 25, 1962  Approach to Thinking Machines
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Children
Computers and the Internet
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Internet and Social Media
Mental Health
Teenagers
Telecommunications and Wireless Technologies