Technology plays an integral role in the daily functions of society. It provides access to efficient modes of transportation, communication, and operations. These benefits improve the quality of life of humans and allow them to navigate their day-to-day routines. However, these benefits also come with the hazards of technology. Humans’ dependence on technological devices and innovations can lead to severe addiction to certain types of technology. As adults rely on their electronic devices and the Internet to function, they become susceptible to unhealthy behaviors like social media addiction, online shopping addiction, and video game addiction. Social media, online shopping, and video game addictions result in the development of poor mental health, poor social relationships, low self-esteem, low productivity, and even physical injuries.

Social Media Addiction

Social media addiction is one of the common addictions that individuals can develop as they rely on smartphones, computers, and the Internet to socialize and establish their identity. This type of addiction is when an individual becomes obsessed with social media platforms. Different studies have revealed that social media addiction can lead to issues regarding mood, cognition, emotions, interpersonal skills, psychology, and physical health (cited in Huo et al., 2019). This indicates the severe effects of social media addiction on an individuals’ mental and physical health. Issues regarding mood, cognition, emotion, and interpersonal skills can greatly affect an individual’s ability to cooperate within a group and remain productive in school or at work. Physical issues may refer to a social media user’s tendency to follow strict diets and routines to develop features that they can boast on social media platforms. This behavior can lead to an unhealthy diet and physical problems.

Some individuals utilize social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to post pictures and videos of themselves in an attempt to garner appreciation from others. This behavior can become unhealthy as social media addiction can lower an individual’s self-esteem (Huo et al., 2019). Individuals may rely on social media “likes”, “hearts”, or “shares” as the basis for their self-worth. Social media addicts may utilize extreme methods to acquire better reactions. They may start telling fake stories, hurting themselves, and other attention-seeking behaviors. This can cause serious mental health issues since individuals will develop an obsession with their virtual presence which will affect their personal life. 

While social media harms mental health, it is also a common platform for dealing with stress and anxiety. Individuals suffering from mental health issues are likely to use social media to cope with their problems, however, this can lead to social media addiction (Zywica & Danowski, 2018). This implies that poor mental health is both a cause and an effect of social media addiction. Individuals that try to utilize social media as a tool to improve their mood may suffer worse mental health if their attempts do not succeed (Caplan, 2010). While excessive use of social media platforms can lead to addiction which then develops mental health issues. This relationship between social media addiction and mental health showcases the complexity of dealing with such issues.

Online Shopping Addiction

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the rise of online application usage which includes e-commerce platforms. While using these applications allows individuals to continuously transact from the safety of their homes, irresponsible usage can lead to compulsive buying behaviors. This type of compulsive disorder is when an individual spends money without regard for their financial status (Tyler, 2016). Individuals that develop this kind of disorder are those that can earn an income and possess credit. Different studies indicate that shopping addicts tend to be individuals either in their 30s or between 18 to 20 years old (Tyler, 2016). While the studies indicate different age groups, the data shows that shopping addiction is likely to occur in adults.

Compulsive buying can lead an individual to purchase unnecessary items that can cause feelings of regret and guilt. Online shopping addiction can then lead to financial losses, behavioral issues, and emotional problems (Bhargava & Hasia, 2019). As individuals continue to purchase items, they may incur debts that they do not have the capability of paying. They may begin to borrow money from friends or family members which can harm their social relationships. Not having the ability to pay debts can cause an individual to suffer great financial losses. Additionally, some of the symptoms of shopping addiction describe the effects of the disorder. The symptoms include shopping to manage stress, incurring debt, stealing or lying to shop, and poor financial resource management. These can then result in the other effects of the addiction which are behavioral and emotional problems.

Similar to social media addiction, poor mental health can be a cause and an effect of compulsive buying. Suresh & Biswas (2019) stated that social loneliness is a major factor in the development of Internet addiction, such as social media and shopping addiction. Individuals that have low self-esteem and poor mental health are likely to visit e-commerce websites to feel better. Their reliance on the platforms can then develop compulsive buying behaviors. Alternatively, compulsive buying behaviors can lead to financial and social losses that can cause poor mental health.

Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction is a compulsive behavior where an individual becomes obsessed with playing video games. While common debates regarding the topic may come from the parents of students, a 2021 survey revealed that 38% of video game players are individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 while only 20% are under 18 years old (Clement, 2021). This data shows that the majority of video game players are adults which may also imply that video game addiction may be common to the age group. The American Psychological Association described an individual with Internet gaming disorder as someone who experiences at least five symptoms of the disorder for 12 months (cited in Grinspoon, 2020). The symptoms include obsessively thinking about playing video games, experiencing withdrawal due to not playing, loss of interest in other activities or hobbies, downplaying the addiction, losing relationships, lack of focus, using games as an escape, uncontrollable urge to play, and continuous playing despite acknowledging the disorder.

Similar to compulsive buying disorder, the symptoms of video game addiction describe its effects on an individual. Symptoms like loss of interest in other activities, video game preoccupation, and lack of interest indicate that the addiction can lead an individual to ignore their responsibilities. According to Shrivastava et al (2018), Internet addiction can lead to the postponement of work, sleep, meals, and change in productivity. Internet addicts, such as video game addicts, will spend a lot of time on an online platform and disregard their work, education, and personal responsibilities. This will then lead to the loss of relationships and even job positions which will adversely affect an individual’s life.

Symptoms like experiencing withdrawal due to not playing, uncontrollable urges, and downplaying the addiction can contribute to poor mental health. This can then cause the disorder to cause mental health issues and problems in cognitive functioning (Stockdale & Coyne, 2018). Low impulse control can lead to the development of ADHD symptoms which can worsen an individual’s mental health. Withdrawal symptoms can also damage mental health and even result in physical harm. The downplaying of the addiction will result in the individual continuing their unhealthy behavior, thus, harming their social and personal lives.

Lastly, video game addiction can lead to physical injuries. The repetitive stress and overuse of muscles, tendons, and other body parts when gaming can lead to physical pain and inflammation (Grinspoon, 2020). Video game players tend to continuously use their wrists to move the mouse when playing which can cause “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”. Players that use controllers for game consoles are prone to develop “Gamer’s Thumb” as they repetitively stress the tendons of their thumbs. Some studies involving teens revealed that gaming is related to obesity which can cause various types of physical illnesses. While the study focused on teens, it may also apply to adults since obese children may grow up retaining their sizes.

Thought Experiment: If Technology Stops Working

The effects of technology addiction on adults highlight the consequences of irresponsibility and overreliance. Despite the negative effects, technology is an irreplaceable tool in society. It allows faster transportation, wireless communication, effective information gathering, and other quality of life improvements. Technological innovations allowed humans to travel to space and develop medicines against deadly diseases. To emphasize the relevance of technology, this section will describe a scenario where modern technology suddenly stops working.

During the event that technology suddenly stops working, humans will experience a drastic change in their daily routines and way of living. The Internet, modes of transportation, electronic devices, and power grids will stop their operations. This will then lead to many businesses losing money and eventually closing down. This can cause an economic crash which will increase the unemployment and crime rate. The businesses that will remain are those that provide non-Internet or technology-based services, such as restaurants and farms. The shutting down of power grids will cause a massive blackout and humans will have to depend on the sun, candles, and fire for light. The occupants of the International Space Station will lose contact with NASA and may eventually crash down on Earth. With no Internet or cellular signals, wireless communication becomes impossible.

The halt in business operations and loss of integral societal tools; such as the Internet, cars, planes, power, and electronic devices, will force humans to live like the period before the invention of these technologies. Transportation will become longer since people will need to walk or ride horses to travel and a 30-minute drive can turn into a half-day trip. Food, clothing, and other material production will require manual labor which will decrease the speed and efficiency of factories. The loss of employment will lead to high crime rates; such as looting, robbery, murder, and rape. Governments can potentially lose their ability to control large regions due to the lack of transportation and military tools. Lastly, information will be more difficult to obtain as individuals will need to find specific books and sources without the aid of the Internet and other electronic databases. 

Conclusion

Social media, online shopping, and video game addictions lead to poor mental health, poor social relationships, low self-esteem, low productivity, and potential physical injuries. These technology addictions cause issues to mental health while also acting as effects of poor mental conditions. Individuals with mental health issues will spend more time on social media, e-commerce websites, and video game platforms worsening their symptoms and damaging their professional, education, and personal lives. The time they spend on the platforms leads them to postpone their responsibilities and decrease their productivity. Obsessive use of electronic devices, especially in gaming, can lead to physical injuries and harm the health of an individual. The effects of these addictions show that humans must responsibly utilize technology as a tool for progress and not an escape from their problems.

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