Saul Rosenthal, PhD

HEALTH PSYCHOLOGIST

In the United States today, there are more than half a billion Internet-connected devices. All of us have spent too much time online on occasion. We may even feel stress from being always on and available, a bit sleep-deprived because of late night Internet sessions or failed to meet deadlines after “losing” ourselves online for longer than we planned.

These are widespread experiences that, for most of us, lead to manageable inconveniences. However, for some people, technology use creates negative effects and serious problems. A growing consensus in the health care and educational communities is raising concerns about long-term impairments in school grades, work productivity, personal relationships and health.

Understanding the Issue

The Internet flourishes because it provides a virtually infinite source of entertainment and distraction. Online activity lifts our mood and helps us avoid distress. Unfortunately, it is possible to grow dependent on the Internet to manage our emotions. Researchers and clinicians have noted that heavy Internet activity can show the same behavioral, emotional and neurological consequences as substance abuse.

Those who may be experiencing technology overuse might show these signs:

  • Losing sleep in order to be online
  • Spending more time than expected on social media or web surfing
  • Needing to play games more in order to feel any pleasure
  • Increasing conflicts within relationships related to Internet use
  • Withdrawing during difficult situations by using technology as a distraction
  • Abandoning offline responsibilities like paying bills or doing work
  • Showing reluctance to attend social events because it takes time away from technology or using devices instead of interacting with other people at social occasions
  • Minimizing the consequences of technology use

Seeking Wellness

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of technology overuse and Internet addiction, we can work together toward developing healthier, meaningful solutions that can lead to a greater quality of life.

Often, technology addiction can mask underlying conditions such as social anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder (ADD). By focusing on the value of offline activities and face-to-face relationships, we can discover the effects of these issues and work to address them so that you can develop a greater sense of well-being and fulfillment. You can develop a relationship with technology that complements, rather than runs, your life.

The health care community recognizes technology overuse as a growing health issue. More and more of my clients, even if they do not identify technology overuse as a primary issue, present with problems associated with overuse. To meet this growing need, I am now certified to treat Internet addiction. Through the organization Digital Media Health, I am developing ways to help families and organizations provide healthy technology environments for children, students and employees.