Why Incremental Solutions to Digital Addiction Don't Work
It is no surprise to anyone that digital addiction is real. Countless studies have proven that social networking causes your brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for that “feel-good” state that comes when you receive good news, see someone you love or miss, or get a great promotion at work.
Dopamine itself is not the problem - this is a naturally occurring substance your own brain will release. The problem lies in the excess, which leads to addiction. Digital addiction can have various negative impacts on mental health including anxiety and stress, depression, low self-esteem, impaired social skills, comparison and envy and the list goes on.
Though incremental solutions to fight digital addiction can be effective, their success depends on various factors. Some of the biggest hurdles to effectively progressing towards the elimination of digital addiction are:
- Need for Self-Discipline: It requires consistent self-discipline and self-regulation. Without strong motivation and support, it's easy to revert to old habits.
- Lack of Immediate Results: Incremental changes might not yield immediate results, which can lead to frustration and a sense of ineffectiveness. Some people might give up before they see significant improvements.
- Digital Environment: Our environment is designed to encourage digital engagement, making it challenging to escape triggers that lead to overuse. Incremental changes might not be sufficient to counteract the constant stimuli.
Another great problem when dealing with this issue is the lack of awareness. Individuals might underestimate the extent of their digital addiction or deny its negative impact, hindering their commitment to making incremental changes. Recent studies have found that quitting technology and social media addictions may be harder than quitting cigarettes.
A “cold turkey” approach, while radical and maybe harder at the starting point, is likely to yield better, more sustainable results if done properly. But what is the secret to successfully winning the fight against digital addiction with such an intense strategy? Simply put, you need support. Humans are inherently social beings, evolved to live and thrive in community rather than isolation. Our biological, psychological, and emotional makeup is deeply intertwined with the need for social connection and interaction. If there was ever a win-win scenario, this is it: strong real-life connections can be accountability partners as you work towards spending less time in the digital realm. At the same time, spending less time on social media can encourage individuals to invest more in real-life relationships and face-to-face interactions, leading to a deeper sense of connection and fulfillment.
In today's digital age, while technology enables new forms of connection, it's important to remember that genuine, face-to-face interactions remain essential for human well-being. Maintaining a strong sense of community and fostering real-world relationships can have profound positive effects on mental, emotional, and physical health. While taking baby steps and celebrating small victories is certainly one path to successfully kicking digital addiction, don’t be afraid to go cold turkey because the benefits of finding the right balance far outweigh the hardship of the process.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Would an honest look at your digital habits reveal balance when it comes to screen time, or is it time to consider a change? If you were to quit cold turkey, who in your life could be an accountability partner?
An accomplished translator and writer, Cami has been in the creative field for nearly two decades. Her experience as a linguist in several fields, paired with her background as a native Latina immigrant (born and raised in Brazil and naturalized American citizen) gives her a unique perspective on the social and cultural context of our society. She has been with Techless since 2022 and currently lives in Michigan with her husband of twelve years, their eight-year-old son, and their puppy Oreo.