Are You Addicted to Technology? Replacing Relationships

Today, we will wrap up with this weeks series on technology "addiction".  Have you recognized any of the signs in you or your spouse?

You lose track of time online and you (or your spouse) realize you have spent more time than intended, or that your time online has been excessive.

It's not uncommon to get easily "lost" online from time to time, but if you have noticed that you repeatedly spend a lot of time online (internet, Facebook,  Pinterest, Instagram, online poker, browsing blogs, YouTube, using Google, etc.), you might consider this to be a problem.  Has your spouse commented on how much time you spend online, or commented that you get absorbed in online activity to the exclusion of other things, such as your relationships?  This indicates a slippery slope to technology impacting your marriage or significant relationships and the use of technology to "escape".  Many times, people use technology to avoid uncomfortable feelings, such as loneliness or sadness, and bury them behind the "busy-ness" of technology.  It provides a distraction temporarily, but the feelings will still be there once you are no longer using technology as an escape, and those feelings need to be addressed in a healthy way.

You have missed important events or use technology to replace relationships. 

The use of online interaction, avatars, virtual lives, and other forms of media can certainly cause a person to hide behind a computer or other technological device instead of having meaningful, one-on-one relationships with others.  Technology can certainly be a good accessory to relationship-- for example, using Skype or Facetime to stay connected to individuals you wouldn't be able to see because of geographic restrictions,  but technology isn't a replacement for the warmth of in-person contact.  It is a basic human need.

We have experienced clients reporting a spouse who missed an important event, such as a birthday party or wedding (or even a date night), because of the use of technology, such as fantasy sports leagues or online gaming.  If you find yourself repeatedly late to events, or missing them altogether because of the use of technology, this will eventually cause resentment in your marriage, which can potentially lead to the destruction of the relationship.  It also takes away from important relationships in day to day life-- such as your relationship with your children and extended family.

Did you recognize any of these indicators of technology "addiction"?  If so, work on setting limits with the amount of time you spend online or using your smartphone and/or iPad.  If you struggle with this, contact a professional counselor to help you work on finding more balance.

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.