Word on Health

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Word On Digital Addiction

Paul Pennington writes: The advances and growth of digital technology and our use of it is quite breathtaking. With smartphone usage across British households hovering around 80% it may not surprise you to learn that accessing the web via phone has more than doubled in the last 5 years.

Is your use of digital technology, unhealthy? A recent study of over 2100 people across the UK highlighted more than one in ten young professionals spend a minimum of 11 hours on digital devices per day and when it comes to the younger generation 48% of parents find it hard to regulate their kids’ screen time with one in three parents admitting they struggle to set a positive example to their Children due to their own dependency on connected devices. You Gov research conducted last year revealed that 44 per cent of us spend more than half an hour a day looking at our phones, eight per cent admit to checking it for three hours a day and three per cent said they spend five or more hours on their mobile. 54 per cent of people checked Facebook, Twitter or other social media every day, with 16 per cent checking more than ten times a day!

According to Wikipedia  'a digital addict is colloquially used to describe a person whose interaction with technology is verging on excessive, threatening to absorb their attention above all else and consequently having a negative impact on the well-being of the user.

Used as a conversational phrase, 'digital addict' describes an increasingly common dependence on devices in the digital age. The phrase is used to highlight the possible danger in being overexposed to technology in an age where the scope for using digital technologies in everyday life is ever-increasing and the danger of becoming dependent upon them is a distinct possibility.'

Digital dependency/addiction can be hard to define, but some tell-tale signs are hard to miss. Starting with, checking messages or browsing the web compulsively, without even being conscious of it. Other signs include experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability and depression when you’re forced to turn off your devices. You also may have an unhealthy relationship with the internet if the need to be connected has created difficulties in some aspects of your life both at work and with your relationships with others.  

Although anyone of any age can develop a digital dependency, it’s a growing problem in the under 25’s who have grown up with connecting with the web and digital devices in all their guises.

As we heard from Swansea University's Professor Phil Reed, digital dependency is an emerging condition but like with any form of addiction there are healthcare professionals who can help, the first step is admitting that you have a problem and then turning to your GP to discover what psychological services are available locally.

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