Too much screen time? Experts might say you’re facing technology addiction


Staff Writer at the Dallas News

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Published 05 July 2011 11:50 PM on

Michael Decker is always reachable. The 42-year-old creative director from Dallas sleeps with his phone nearby on his nightstand. From when he wakes up and checks it until he sets it down before bed, his phone is constantly with him.

“It’s an intrusion into your own private life,” he says. “It leads to burnout if you can never turn it off.”

Decker, who owns an iPhone, a laptop and an iPad, uses his gadgets for work and for play. Though he makes a point not to look at his phone at dinner, he says his friends still chide him. Put that thing down, they say.

“They always have a point,” he says. “It becomes more important than truly interacting with friends and family.”

For most of the population, technology is a tool to enhance our lives. Our phone beeps, and we feel compelled to check whatever new text, email or tweet has come our way. Decker’s behavior is not uncommon, nor is it particularly unsettling.

Recently, indications of something more malicious have started to rumble. The Counseling Center at UT Dallas has a page on its website dedicated to computer addiction. A quick search of Yahoo Groups returns more than 100 groups related to gaming addictions, with names like WOW_widow and EverQuest-Widows.

Search further, and extreme texting and gaming become more than an annoying character trait in a child or girlfriend. Excessive use can lead to addictive behavior, says therapist Cosette Rae, who launched a technology rehabilitation center in the Seattle area. She says her clients, far from being isolated cases, are part of a newly recognized problem: Technology has the potential to cause addictive behavior, experts say.

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Online addiction no game, experts warn

Online addiction no game, experts warn

Stress over FarmVille led to a child's death, investigators say.

Posted: October 28, 2010 - 11:00pm 

On a message board for online gaming addicts, the story of a young Jacksonville mother who admitted to killing her baby after he interrupted her computer game drew horror, skepticism, and in some cases, understanding.

"It is exactly like a drug addiction," one reader said. "Try interrupting a meth addict right before he/she is about to get high."

Alexandra Tobias, 22, is facing a possible life sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the January death of her 3-month-old son, Dylan Lee Edmondson.

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Are we digital dummies?



Winnipeg, MB (October 18, 2010) In a fascinating and thought-provoking documentary, CBC-TV's Doc Zone presents Are We Digital Dummies? on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT).

One thing is certain about human nature we're born talkers. Our urge to communicate is universal. And now with modern technology we can meet anybody anywhere at anytime.

Today our means for communication are endless: twelve billion text messages are sent worldwide every day. Thirteen million Canadians are Facebook users.

And the number of personal computers in use around the globe is expected to double in the next four years. But is all this access to technology actually making our lives better?

Produced by Merit Motion Pictures and directed by Andy Blicq (The Secret World of Shoplifting, The Truth About Liars) Are We Digital Dummies? takes a hard look at how computers and the latest cell phone technology affect our families and our co-workers in addition to our own lives.

I don't think I've met a single person who says they¹re happy managing the technology pace,² says Tod Maffin, a Canadian expert on technology use. One of the problems with living in an always on¹ society is we perceive the need to always be on.

Canadians interviewed for the film, including Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, say they now can't live without their personal devices. But many also complained that computers and especially smart phones like the BlackBerry have taken over their lives and they worry about how much time they¹re spending surfing the internet. And it is not just for personal use. Many of us have careers that depend on us being able to be reached at any time, on any day, no matter where we are.

In this provocative, fast-paced, funny and shocking documentary, Are We Digital Dummies? examines the risks associated with using our tech gear behind the wheel of the car, at home, as well as at the office where cell phone use in meetings have re-written the rules of etiquette. We discover there is growing concern that our technology use has turned us into a distracted nation. The emphasis is shifting from deep thinking to getting superficial knowledge fast and that despite what we think, we¹re not very good at multi-tasking with all those devices. Our brains simply can¹t keep up with all the modern demands for our attention.

But some people can't turn off their technology. They need to immediately read that next text, take that call or check their Facebook. Experts interviewed at an internet addiction centre in Washington State say that between six to ten per cent of the population that's online meets criteria for internet addiction.

Are We Digital Dummies? takes measure of how technology devices are affecting our personal lives, both for the good and the bad, and leaves us with an important question: Can we manage the technology around us or will we let it manage us?


Social games are designed to be addictive

by Joe Osborne, Posted Oct 7th 2010 4:05PM

Millions of Americans play social games daily because, according to Dr. Hilarie Cash, "these games are designed to be extremely addictive." Cash, founder of Fall City, Wash.-based Internet addiction program reSTART, spoke with The Daily Beast about the dangers of social gaming addiction and how studios like Zynga intentionally design social games with addictive elements like points, levels and gifts.

"That's absolutely consciously built into the games," Cash said, "I've talked to video-games developers who acknowledge this."

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Gamer sues NCSoft for Lineage II Addiction

While most gamers can step away from the virtual world, some can not. Craig Smallwood of Hawaii couldn't, so he filed a lawsuit. In the suit, he blames NCSoft, the publisher of his favorite game Lineage II, for not warning him about the game's "addictive" nature. According to the suit, Smallwood spent an estimated 20,000 hours on the role-playing game, and claims that he was "unable to function independently in usual daily activities, such as getting up, getting dressed, bathing or communicating with family and friends." A judge deemed the lawsuit worthy of its day in court.

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