As early as 1930 psychologist Gordon Allport had expressed uncertainty about the psychological effects of excessive use of radio, more intense and profound criticism accompanied the use of television. Over time, the development of science and technological progress have made digital devices part of our everyday lives, changing our habits and influencing our choices. Although their use in the most varied fields (school, work, medical) has affected our lives in a positive way – especially with the current pandemic situation in progress – there is another aspect to consider: addiction. Technology addiction is a type of addiction of contemporary times, of a behavioral type, characterized by the pathological use of technological tools such as smartphone, television, computer. Addiction can affect both online and offline technology, with different characteristics and risks. The first is also known as internet addiction, and the term was first coined by U.S. psychiatrist Ivan Goldberg in 1995, who also noted physical symptoms, such as neck pain, vision problems, due to poor physical activity and sitting posture maintained for most of the day. Unfortunately, this phenomenon mainly affects the younger sections of the population, between the age of 12 and 25, who are referred to as technological natives. Unfortunately, however, even children, from the first years of life, begin to use their parents’ smartphones and computers for play, which leads to negative effects such as insomnia, agitation, nervousness and apathy. The child, once he gets used to the technological game will struggle to use or even invent other games. Various studies report that 79% of adolescents cannot detach from their smartphone for more than three consecutive hours. All this has led, not only in Japan but also in many other countries of the world including Italy, to the so-called phenomenon of “hikikomori” – which has already exceeded 500.000 confirmed cases – and which literally means “to stand on the sidelines”: the most affected are males, ages 14 to 30, who close the door of their room for days, months or even years and turn on the computer. The malaise for direct social relationships can arise for different causes, from the difficulty of relating with others to cases of bullying. The fragility typical of this age, the sense of not being up to it, the fear of being judged, by one’s peers and beyond, play a fundamental role. But it doesn’t come from an obsession with digital. This addiction is, in many cases, only a consequence. Not all hikikomori spends most of their time surfing the Internet. The abuse of technology is a manifestation of the need for contact, essentially eliminating the source of discomfort: many of these guys spend most of their day on the Internet or playing video games, refusing to talk to friends, or even family, but having virtual relationships across a screen, thus creating a parallel reality easily manageable from their room, where they also have an opportunity for redemption. Experts say that, in order to recover from this “disease”, the first step is to talk to parents: however, very often, they tend to demonize new technologies, claiming that mobile phones make us more distant. This is certainly true but, in a period of total isolation such as the one we are experiencing today due to Covid-19, technology has saved us from monotony and loneliness. It is therefore appropriate not to deprive young people of technology for the only reason that it may pose a danger to health, but rather to educate them to use it correctly and to be able to distinguish the boundary between the real world and the virtual world.

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Angela Isgrò


5A Liceo Classico
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