(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
Some obsessive and excessive use of digital media can exhibit symptoms typically found in addictive behaviours. These include choosing to continue using technology despite the conflict with other life priorities; the heavy reliance on technology to change one’s mood, to escape reality and feel happier; repeated attempts to limit that reliance without success; and anxiety and stress when unable to access technology as much as one wishes.
The research on why people develop such a digital addiction is still emerging. Some reasons relate to the environment itself. For example, having parents who overuse technology may normalise this same behaviour in children. Other reasons relate to the human tendency to conform and the need to be part of a community. Gamers and other social media users typically reciprocate a commitment to play and interact amongst one another.
Some researchers argue that digital-media design triggers addictive use by exploiting human biases by facilitating some options, like the ease of posting, tweeting and endless scrolling, while toughening others, such as the difficulty of cancelling and deleting or de-activating an account.