5 Ways to Kick Your Technology Addiction

With tech addiction on the rise, it's imperative to understand the risks of technology overuse and learn strategies to keep a healthy balance.

Do you have a friend who can’t stop staring at their smartphone? Does this same friend unlock their phone over 60 times a day because of FOMO? Does your friend sometimes feel trapped by technology, enslaved by the prominent role it has taken in their business and personal life? If so, your friend needs serious help.

How did you…I mean, your friend, get so hooked on tech?

Well, since the beginning of the 21st century, Internet usage has increased by over 1,000%,and today the world is more connected than ever. Of course, we know technology has driven countless beneficial changes, but it has also created serious, unforeseen challenges.

Technology addiction, commonly termed Internet Addiction Disorder, or IAD, is a 21st-century epidemic that is impacting large numbers of people. Studies on the populations of America and Europe suggest that on the high-end, Internet addiction could be affecting as much as 38% of the population.

This is a staggering number, but it makes sense considering the widespread integration of the Internet into nearly all aspects of modern life. Not surprisingly, business people are an especially high-risk segment for IAD, with business today being more synonymous with technology and the Internet than ever before.

So what is the exact cause of Internet Addiction Disorder?

It could be due to the symbiotic relationship between business and the Internet. Or, it could be related to the prevalence of social media. Or, maybe online shopping is the to blame. Or, maybe it’s totally beyond our control, a biological process related to the hit of dopamineour body receives each time we receive an electronic notification.

Internet Addiction Disorder is most likely a combination of all these elements combined. But that does not mean technology has to run your life. There are many techniques to develop a healthy relationship with your technology.

Here’s are 5 ideas to kick your tech addiction and take back control:

1.     Re-Develop Your Behaviors – At the most basic level, technology addiction due to a series of habitual behaviors. In order to change your behaviors, you need to replace old behaviors with new ones. So, instead of aimlessly checking your phone during free time, insert a new, and ideally, enjoyable behavior like reading, meditating or working out.

2.     Digital Detox Periods – Take digital detox periods to get used to going hours, and then days, without access to technology. You can start by setting up digital detox’s for a small period of time each day, and then work up to spending entire days or weekends without using the Internet. If you want an even more intense digital detox, there are a number of companies that put on digital detox retreats that last a week or more.

3.     Email & Social Media Limits – With many communication channels being constantly updated with new information, it’s crucial to limit when and where you check these applications. For example, try only checking social media once a day, and setting specific times to check emails. While it may feel uncomfortable at first, you’ll fall into the new routine quickly and be surprised at how much more you’ll get done in a day.

4.     Pick a Partner in Crime – Like kicking any bad habit, it is always good to have a partner to help you stay accountable. This could be a partner at work, your spouse, and maybe even a sibling or friend. The key here is finding someone you can trust to keep you on track.

5.     Celebrate Your Successes – Changing behaviors can be hard, but when you do succeed, make sure to celebrate your success. No…not with more access to technology. Reward yourself by doing spending more time in nature, taking time for workouts, or setting dates to spend time with friends and family. The reward can be any positive activity you enjoy that is non-tech related. The more you do those activities, the more you’ll realize how little you miss technology.

Technology addiction is an issue affecting many people in our culture and one that we are only now beginning to understand. However, by staying aware of our relationship to technology, we can make smart choices to keep tech usage to a healthy level.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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