Tuesday, May 1, 2018

New study: Epidemic of depression has roots in digital addiction

Image result for free images looking at cellphone

We now have an epidemic of depression. The epidemic is clearly seen in the US, but it is also here now in the Philippines based on several feedback from educators and from psychiatrists.

What brought this about?

Recent research published this month by the scientific journal, NeuroRegulation, has confirmed the suspicion of educators: the heaviest smartphone users exhibited the highest degree of depression, anxiety and loneliness. The term for this is "phoneliness". 

The reason is that digital addiction shows similar patterns as drug addiction. The alerts, bells and pings form a constant dopamine stimulus that keeps us wanting to stay connected with our smartphones. "The behavioral addiction of smartphone use begins forming neurological connections in the brain in ways similar to how opioid addiction is experienced by people taking Oxycontin for pain relief— gradually," explained Erik Peper, Professor of  Health Education.

The researchers said that tech addiction to social media and the like has a negative effect on nurturing actual social connections -- relationship with family, friends, colleagues, classmates, etc. 

As reported by Forbes, "Loneliness, the researchers believe, stems from the absence of body language and other social cues normally associated with face-to-face communication.  The issue is that visual signals can't be interpreted when people use texting as form of communication. 

"The researchers also pointed out that these same students also repeatedly multitasked while studying, eating, attending class, or while engaged watching other forms of media. This incessant level of activity, they explain, doesn’t allow you to physically or mentally decompress and relax."

The research also gave practical tips to overcome this addiction:

  • recognize that tech companies are manipulating us to be addicted to their products by using push notifications, bells, alerts. 
  • turn off push notifications
  • answer texts and emails only on certain moments of the day
  • stay more connected with people rather than with the digital world
Below are some tips found in the following articles that can help people overcome tech addiction and also prevent children from falling into this addiction which is now at the root of a new world of depression:

  • Replace the habit. For example, read a highly recommended book, do a project, talk to a someone, before touching the phone. 
  • Set time limits. 
  • Put order in your life. Have clear priorities. Being with God, family, doing homework or professional work, reading books should be priority. 
  • Place the phone at a distance so you don't keep on touching it. 
  • Use apps that can help control phone use, such as Breakfree, AppDetox
  • Get help from someone, a friend or family member. 
  • Remember that technology is your tool not your master. 
Lastly, don't ever forget Harvard University's longest study which extolled warm face-to-face relationships as the key to human happiness. Their stunning five-word conclusion is: "Happiness is love. Full stop." 




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