More and more people have become glued to their screens over the past year as the COVID-19 restrictions deprived many of a normal social life as they spend more time indoors. This led to many people feeling that they have become addicted to their devices, and the Green Crescent Consultation Center (YEDAM) on technology addiction reports that requests for addiction assistance have doubled over the past year.
The internet, online games and social media platforms make it easy for people to become addicted regardless of their age, experts say. The intense use of technological devices can lead to both physical and social problems. Looking at the screen for a long time can cause pain and stiffness in neck muscles, impairment in body posture and eye inflammation.
In the social sphere, one can experience a reduction in social activities, depression, attention deficit, failure in time management and a decline in academic achievement. Technology addiction is included in the addictions list of Turkish Green Crescent (Yeşilay), a nonprofit organization fighting addictions and providing services to prevent relapse.
Green Crescent Deputy Chairperson Mehmet Dinç told Anadolu Agency (AA) that technology addiction is mainly triggered by digital technologies linked to the internet due to the diverse content they offer. It is easy to go down a rabbit hole so to speak, as people waste time on various pages, videos and social media feeds. This can lead to many harmful consequences.
Citing academic data, Dinç emphasized that online games and gambling could harm people in the same way chemical addictions affect people physiologically and socially.
Dinç added that despite the fact, people usually do not want to seek assistance for technological addiction as they underestimate damages.
"Purpose of usage is very important. People should ask “Why am I using the computer, telephone, internet, or any application of digital technologies?” It may include learning or for fun. The other functionality is making life easier. But if we don't draw clear boundaries, we may have problems,” Dinç said.
He said adults should not think that technology addiction is a problem that affects only children and youth, as they too are at risk.
“Children mainly carry the culture of the society in which they are living and they start to learn this culture from their parents and the adults around them. Father and mothers should think about ‘How much and how purposefully do I use technology’ first and then they can start to worry about their children,” he said.
Emphasizing that it may take time for technology addicts to accept this situation, Dinç said the help of people around the addicts can be beneficial, adding that addicted individuals should not be perceived as stubborn and the attitude of helpers should not be to order them around or forbid them but the aim should be to facilitate and enrich the lives of those battling with addiction by introducing them to other activities.
YEDAM, which was established in 2015 to provide free psychosocial support to addicted individuals and their relatives. It has held more than 500 interviews with individuals on technology addiction since 2019.