By Dr. Dinesh

Is your husband/wife lost in a maze of smart phones, tablets / laptops? Do you fear getting the latest apps is turning out to be your son's/daughters prime ambition in life? Technology addiction as the tendency to excessively engage in activities involving the cell phone, internet, social networking sites like Face book, What’s app etc, despite harmful consequences to one's health, mental state or social life. People can develop an addiction to these technologies irrespective of their age, but this has been a growing concern among teenagers. It manifests in the form of frequently checking the phone or accessing the internet to see if there are any messages or mails and the need to update Face book status. For many adolescents and young adults, the Internet has become a way to overcome a swathe of issues — Peer pressure, academic stress, relationship problems, boredom and loneliness. The subjects who displayed addictive behaviour were not sharing personal information but there was some risky behaviour like online relationships, extra marital affairs and a preference for online instead of face-to-face communication, The ease of technology was pushing people towards being "online" constantly instead of offline — they wouldn't spend time with parents or friends, preferring instead to always text or use the Internet to communicate constantly. One can’t advise completely stopping using tech devices, but prefers a healthy use of them instead. One cannot control cyber-sexual addiction (a part of technology addiction); so the environment is controlled and psychotherapy given if there is a psychological issue. Craving or the obsession with being online or on the cell phone to SMS, email or get on to Face book, or what’s app. When a person is unable to regulate his technology usage. The itch to be constantly connected, in terms of gaming or surfing. The shift to excessive online behaviour brings about a decline in academic standards, disinterest in outdoor games or socialising, eye strain, spondyilitis and sleep disorders. High tech-Gadgets have found their way early into a child's life and children are fed with TVs or computer tablets as distractions and it's hard to wean them off the excessive tech usage habit. A teenager who was addicted to online pornography threatened to indulge in high-risk behaviour if his parents did not restore the Internet connection they had given up to curb his tendencies. The hapless parents relented, thinking that pornography was the lesser of the two evils.

A child playing video games for 10-12 hours a day would say he was going to school and instead go to a cyber cafe, which would open as early for video game junkies, and he would return late at night, using the excuse of extra classes and study groups. Internet addiction is a top health threat to adolescents. Parents should educate children about mobile phone use and teach them to develop control from an early age. They should also emphasise finding a balance between online and offline activities.

 Road accidents for those who can’t stop texting while driving. There are reports that people have died after playing video games for days without a break, generally stemming from a blood clot associated with being sedentary, feelings of depression; physical changes to weight, headaches or carpal tunnel syndrome. Internet addiction can be a symptom of other mental illness, such as depression. An older teenager locks himself up in his room at night and spends hours chatting with friends on his smart phone. First thing he does after getting up in the morning is to go online and check messages. He becomes restless and irritated if the Wi-Fi or 3G network suddenly goes off. This is only the tip of the iceberg in a country where use of smart phones and tablets are in rise at breakneck pace. The scepticism is understandable in a world where everyone is hooked to one's gadgets for work or for socializing. Apart from TV, mobile phones, tablets & Video games, give children plenty of outdoors and adventure sports.

Here is one para from Robin Sharma’s book “who will cry when you die” which actually inspired me to write this article. “The phone is there for your convenience, not for the convenience of your callers, yet, as soon as we hear the phone ring, we run to pick up as if our lives depended on the call being answered at once, people interrupt quiet family dinners, dedicated reading times and meditation periods to answer those seemingly urgent phone calls, many of which turn out to be ones that could have been taken later. Picking up the ringing phone is just another way to put off doing something you don’t really want to do, but once you get good at letting it ring and staying focused on the activity at hand, you will wonder what the hurry to pick up the phone was all about in the first place”. “We first make our habits and then our habits make us” John Dryden observed. According to U.S News & World Report over the course of your life time, you will spend eight months opening junk mail, two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls and five years standing in line. E-mails in many ways are one of the great blessings of the modern age. It frees you up to when it suits you. “Give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other”. It is hard to take a call on where necessity ends and addiction begins.