What is Screen Addiction?
Technology has come a long way over the years and has been very beneficial for society. Just about every home in the United States now has at least one device with a screen on it. The screens can be used to watch shows and movies, catch up on social media or simply do research. Unfortunately, the downside to having access to so much programming is the possibility of addiction. Screen addiction occurs because people become reliant on viewing screens on cell phones, tablets, televisions, and computers. They use it as a way to unwind or to escape from their everyday life.
Many people do not think that they have a screen addiction because screen use is so common in today’s society. It’s second nature to pick up the phone to look something up or program your television to record your favorite shows. People can spend hours looking at a screen without even realizing it.
Some people are addicted to checking social media or playing games online. Cyber addiction quickly takes over their lives and makes it difficult for them to function without regularly viewing their devices. Many people assume that internet addiction only affects children and teenagers, but that isn’t the case. It is one of the most rapidly growing forms of addiction for people of all ages.
What Are the Symptoms of Screen Addiction?
In order to know if you have a screen addiction, you first need to know what the symptoms are. It’s possible to only exhibit a few of the symptoms and still have a slight addiction to device use. A few of the most common symptoms of the addiction are:
Spending Excessive Time on Virtual Based Relationships
If you spend more time with the people that you are friends with online than the actual people in your life, there may be an addiction to screen usage to blame. It’s important to have personal relationships with people that you can talk to on a face-to-face basis. You should spend more time with friends and family in person than with people online.
Excessive Screen Time Affects Your Family Relationships Negatively
Relationships can suffer when someone has cyber addiction. They may spend so much time on their devices that they cannot provide others with the attention that is needed. If you notice that someone you love is complaining about you being online or watching television all the time, you may have an issue to address.
Screen Usage Takes Over Your Thoughts
Looking forward to being able to see your favorite show is normal. Obsessing over having to watch something or needing to check your social media accounts is another. If you think about the next time you can use your devices constantly throughout the day, you may be using them too much.
Your Happiness Is Limited to Regular Screen Usage
Leaving the house without your phone could cause you stress because you want to be able to call for help if you need it. If it causes you stress because you can’t check social media or text, that’s a different issue. Feeling stressed when you aren’t able to use your devices regularly is a sign of an addiction.
Anger or Frustration When Screen Time is Limited
Another common sign of addiction is anger or frustration when you cannot use your devices when you want to. You shouldn’t feel anxiety that you can’t check your phone at work or watch television during a power outage. It’s important to assess your feelings the next time you can’t use a device. This will help you to identify if it is a bother to you or simply an inconvenience.
Screen Usage Interfering with Your Daily Activities
If you prioritize screen usage over other activities that you need to do, there is an addiction issue at hand. Feeling an uncontrollable urge to check your phone or watch a show instead of doing something that needs to be done shows what is a priority in your life. Once screen time becomes a priority to everything else, there is an issue that needs to be addressed.
What Is Screen Addiction Withdrawal?
Unfortunately, once someone is addicted to screen usage, they can go through withdrawals when access is limited. Just like with any other addiction, their mind and body become used to having access to the thing they are addicted to regularly. When they don’t have access to it, their mind and body can react poorly. The withdrawal symptoms for screen addiction can vary from person to person.
Commonly the symptoms include:
- Frustration: It’s very common for someone to feel frustrated when their screen time is limited. They have been able to live in their own world for a long time. When they start exposing themselves to others again, they may be short-tempered and easily irritated. This is because they cannot control the way that the person acts like they can their devices.
- Overwhelmed: When someone has been able to spend an extended period of time in isolation, they often become overwhelmed when they stop using the devices. They are exposed to things that they haven’t been exposed to in a long time. It’s best to expose them to things in small doses until they are used to them.
- Bored: A common problem that comes with screen addiction is boredom. Those with cyber addiction haven’t had to think on their own regularly. They were able to zone out during their favorite shows while playing games or searching the internet. People often realize they don’t even know what they like to do anymore. It can take time for someone to figure out what things they enjoy doing after an extended screen addiction.
- Muscle Pain: It’s common to feel muscle aches and pains when withdrawing from screen addiction. This is because you are moving more than you normally do. Your body got used to you being lethargic when you gave in to your internet addiction. After a few days, your muscle aches should subside as your body gets used to the boost in activity.
- Headaches: Headaches are common when you start limiting how much you look at the screens. This is because your brain and your eyes become accustomed to staring at the screens for extended periods of time. You may get a headache from the exposure to more natural light or from not focusing on one location for long periods. You may also get headaches due to dehydration. Once you have other activities taking up your time, you may drink less water than you did when you were more lethargic. If you get a headache, try drinking some water to see if you can get it to subside.
What Are the Consequences of a Screen Addiction?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that screen addiction is harmless, but this isn’t the case. Screen addiction can be harmful to you physically, emotionally and psychologically. When you are addicted to devices, you don’t get as much exercise, which can be bad for your health. Your heart doesn’t get the regular workout that it needs and many people who have an internet addiction don’t eat the healthiest of foods. They choose to eat premade meals as it takes away less time from the devices they cherish.
You are exposed to a false sense of reality, which can make it difficult for you to build true, meaningful relationships. It also makes it difficult for you to know how to handle emotionally stressful situations in a healthy way.
People with cyber addiction often have issues with depression. They are so preoccupied with their addiction that nothing else in the world seems to matter. They aren’t able to thrive at work because they can’t focus on the tasks at hand. They aren’t able to have steady relationships because too much of their time is dedicated to their cyber addiction. They often feel guilty for not providing their loved ones with the time and energy that they feel they should. Addiction is something that can take over your life quickly and feels nearly impossible to overcome.
How is Screen Addiction Treated?
Screen addiction can be treated in many different ways. The first thing that has to happen is the person has to recognize that there is an issue. They need to be able to realize that they have an addiction and want to recover from it. If a person isn’t ready to make a change for themselves, they won’t ever make it.
Once someone is ready to get help for their addiction, they can go to a professional treatment facility to get the help that they need. There are some people who are able to get help through outpatient treatment options. They see a counselor on a regular basis and meet with professionals to discuss their addiction. They may be given medications to help them with any depression that develops.
There are times when screen addiction can be co-occurring with other conditions. This is where residential treatment comes into play. It’s possible that someone may need to get medical assistance to overcome an addiction. There are many people who are addicted to drugs, as well as the internet, gambling or even sex. In a residential treatment program, medications are given to help minimize your withdrawal symptoms. You can get counseling help in a group setting and on an individual basis. It will allow you to establish why your addictions began and how to avoid relapses in the future. You can also learn how to cope once you enter back into your regular life. There are strategies that you need to put into place to prevent a relapse in the future.
Partial hospitalization may also be a great option for you if you simply need regular help with your addiction. You still get to go home and live your normal life every day but get the specialized care that you need. It’s very common for someone in partial hospitalization to go to the treatment facility a few days a week for regular treatment. When you go to the treatment facility, the professionals will assess your situation and help you determine which treatment option is right for you.