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Are We Becoming Too Dependent On Technology?


Are We Becoming Too Dependent On Technology?

Technology is progressing all the time, so much so, that some of us (who are not technically minded) can barely keep up with it.  When I was growing up, there were no mobiles, social media, laptops, ipads or tablets. We had computers but people usually used them for business purposes. We had landlines and if you couldn’t get through by phone, then you visited the person’s home.  If you had committed to meeting a friend for an appointment, you had to show up on time, because you didn’t have a mobile to text or phone that you were going to be late. In many ways life was much simpler then.

Last Friday evening I accidentally left my mobile in work, and I wondered how I would survive the weekend without it.  I have a nervous habit of texting people when I’m on the bus so I wasn’t sure how I would endure the ride home without doing this.  I think I fidgeted the whole way home!  It just goes to show that it is so easy to form habits.  While I think modern technology is amazing and the internet has helped to generate a more comprehensive means to people for both business and pleasure, I don’t think it is healthy for people to be addicted to their mobiles and to social media sites.

Scientists have looked at the brain scans of people with a facebook addiction, and discovered that it affects the grey matter in a similar way that cocaine does.  “The impulsive system can be thought of as a car’s accelerator, while the inhibitory system can be likened to a brake,” explained Professor Ofir Turel of California State University. “In addictions, there is very strong acceleration associated with the impulsive system often coupled with a malfunctioning inhibitory system.”

Students were requested to participate in a questionnaire which assessed how addicted they were to facebook, according to the study  published in Psychological Reports: Disability and Trauma.  They were shown different pictures, some of which were connected to facebook. They were asked to push the button when they thought the facebook images appeared.  The people who pressed the button quickly when they saw the facebook pictures, also scored highly on the addiction test.


Scientists discovered that those addicted to facebook have had their amydala activated, which is the part of the brain associated with emotions, and the striatum, which is involved in the processing and anticipation of rewards.  Some of the students who took part in the questionnaire responded to Facebook stimuli faster than they did to road signs.

“This is scary when you think about it, since it means that users might respond to a Facebook message on their mobile device before reacting to traffic conditions if they are using technology while on the road,” Turel said.

However, researchers found the impulsive side of the brain worked well for obsessive Facebook users during the observation period, whereas in drug addicts this would not be the case.

Tural added “This is good news, since it means that the behaviour can be corrected with treatment. We speculate that addictive behaviour in this case stems from low motivation to control the behaviour, which is due partly to the relatively benign societal and personal consequences of technology overuse, compared to, say, substance abuse.”

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