Inside the human mind echoes the need to be occupied, the want of a challenge. Often, the way most humans approach this incessant craving is to pull out their smart phones and play a game or respond to texts. The mind then recognizes this as the standard way of occupying itself, and the activity soon becomes an obsession rather than a remedy. Even though many adults exacerbate this situation, in today’s society addiction to technology is an extremely serious problem that affects children and adults worldwide.
In order to understand this addiction to its full extent, one needs to consider the history of portable technologies. The cell phone is a rather recent invention, being in existence since the 1990s; watches have been revolutionized, acting as smart phones strapped to the wrist; the market for gaming devices has increased about tenfold since the turn of the century. In general, technologies like computers, smart phones, and videogame players have become popular in the past three decades.
Although they make our lives somewhat easier, portable technologies capture the attention of the mind more strongly than any other “preoccupant” and thus is the biggest source of technology addiction in the current age. Some researchers estimate that as much as 60% of the world population will use portable technologies by 2050. Seeing how humans (especially between the ages of 13-22) become easily addicted to operating their smart phones and such, this could become a serious problem in 35 years.
This brings the discussion to the problems; namely, why is technology addiction bad? It is no coincidence that countries with the most portable technologies also have the highest deaths from texting while driving, a problem that is much easier to fix than cancer.
Also, staring at small screens for extended periods of time has detrimental effects on the eyes of humans, especially teenagers. One economist surmises that the average American teenager gazes at LCD screens as much as six hours every day. This can reduce the lifespan of the eyes by as much as 30 years. Finally, take into consideration the sheer amount of tasks in modern society that require focus and concentration. Addiction to technology shatters focus and impairs concentration by redirecting attention to the activity (obsession). In a way, this malady imposes an artificial, self-induced attention-deficit disorder on the afflicted. As one can see, addiction to technology poses significant risks to people around the world. Being a teenager who has seen upstanding students struck down by the iron fist of addiction, I propose a few tentative solutions. I myself do not use portable technologies, but my brother did. He would play games under the cover of his blankets at night and text while doing homework, and confiscating the device did not stop his addiction.
In the end, however, exactly one year ago, his obsession was “cured” by the introduction of Blender, a program for designing 3D art. In effect, he was re-addicted to a less harmful activity; his attention was diverted to something that he liked to do that greatly benefited his creativity and self cultivation. Psychologically, this conforms to the laws of mental physics: changing one’s focus from one thing to another. As a general suggestion, parents can take away the charger to the device or change a setting in the device to limit usage. The Kindle Fire has many of the functions of a Smartphone, and it may promote reading as the attention grabber. This actually worked for my former friend Alvin, who now reads more than texts. Logic tells us that simply removing a bullet from a wound does not heal it; one must clean it and fill it with skin and flesh. From this, mental reassignment works in a similar fashion – replacement of addiction with a beneficial substitute.
These solutions offer ways to solve an overlooked problem in today’s world and mitigate its effects. Overall, addiction to technology causes safety and health issues which can be easily avoided if more were aware of this problem in all objectivity. Rather than occupying the self through technology, one can focus on solving this problem. Reducing usage of technology will be the real remedy to the quest to end boredom, and addiction to technology ought to be discussed, analyzed, and resolved in the next 35 years.