Can technology breed new mental illnesses?
Without wanting to sound too Luddite, there is evidence that our tech-heavy lifestyles can have a noticeable effect on our mental health – not that it’s really the tech’s fault.
According to entrepreneur and campainger Charlotte Fantelli, ‘The rise in the use of technology and the rise in mental illness is no coincidence – the two have gone hand in hand.’ A prime example is the recently-approved psychological disorder of ‘internet addiction’ – which some psychologists claim has similar symptoms to ‘traditional’ addictions, such as emotional shutdown, lack of concentration and withdrawal.
Speaking of concentration, that oft-derided notion of the ADHD-riddled ‘MTV generation’? There are some studies to back it up. Basically, playing too many fast-paced video games or constantly using the anything-at-your-fingertips internet could train kid’s brains to expect everything to be that consistently exciting – when, say, a teacher isn’t always going off on tangents or playing drum ‘n’ bass behind their classes, they get bored.
More insidious than that, though, are the more latent effects of ‘internet addiction’: regular use of computers and mobile phones has been linked to stress, sleep disorders, and even depression and depersonalisation.
So if those are the potential problems, how can they be avoided? It doesn’t need to be as extreme as a digital addiction clinic. Is it as simple as setting boundaries, having some self control, and making sure the kids don’t spend too much time plugged in?