Symptoms of Electronic Media Addiction
1) consistently spend more time than you plan in front of electronic screens?
2) Do you feel that you do not have enough time to take care of the important things in your life such as chores, personal health and fitness, business or relationships but still find plenty of time for television or computer games?
3) “graze” on electronic media during the day and/or find yourself spending hours binging on television, internet, computer games at night?
4) plan to use electronic media to further your businesses goals, dreams or visions and then find yourself distracted by other things, such as news, shopping or even porn?
5) feel closer to characters to characters on TV then to friends or partners and then wonder why you feel so alone?
6) tend to neglect healthy intellectual stimulation so that you can focus on passive electronic media?
7) find creative endeavors impeded by your focus on electronic media?
8) find that electronic media, such as video games, television and internet are the main source of relaxation? Is it your primary source of recreation?
9) experience disconnection from your body and neglect your health, rest, sleep, exercise, good nutrition etc. because of your daily media usage?
10) disconnect from the natural world, by not fulfilling the need to experience all of our senses?
Some people can moderate their Consumption, Some have no control!
Electronic Media is present anywhere that you can either access cable and/or internet. Television I has been a way of life for many generations. Americans have great love for their TV programs and TV is still #1 when it comes to media consumption.
Of course, with the “World Wide Web”, there was an explosion of media to entertain, educate, and distract. With the invention of the smart phone, all of the above were now available in our pockets. I remember seeing the first iPhone in 2007, I was in the subway and I saw a man hunched on his knees playing with it. I asked him “do you love it?” He said “I’m in love with it”. The onset of social media was a huge boost to consumption of media. Many People spend a large portion of their daily life on Facebook. I think we are a culture that has fallen in love with our smart phones.
Some people can moderate their usage at will, but some there is no control. We may have tried to cut down and were not successful, or we were able to cut back for a short time, but would break our commitments to ourselves or others. I have known people who stop television completely for a year, but one hour, (like one drink, or one cigarette) sends them back to where they were before or worse.
Media Consumption is both Normalized and Encouraged
Smoking, though legal, has a big warning on each pack: CAUTION: CIGARETTE SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.
Alcohol, though acceptable, has many warnings that include actual jail time.
There are no warnings other than age appropriateness that come with media. One never sees a warning: Too much viewing of television can be dangerous to your health. Caution: more than two hours a day of playing video games can change the way your brain functions. Caution: Too many forms of internet communication may affect your ability to communicate face to face with anyone. And finally and maybe most sadly: The excessive use of pornography may greatly inhibit your ability to be intimate with your partner. Instead we are bombarded with messages that encourage us to to consume more and more and more. In other countries, such as China, they are making strides to deal with media addiction. In the United States we have not even begun to address the situation.
How to I change my Media Habits?
- For a week, change nothing, keep a log of how much time you spend on media. This may seem easy but I suggest that you expect it to be very uncomfortable.
- Set a goal that includes cutting back a minimal amount of time per day. For example if you average 4 hours a day of television, cut it back to 3 1/2 hours. I strongly suggest that you the timer on your smartphone, to measure usage. If you cut back only 15 minutes a day, praise yourself anyway.
- Find at least one activity that would give you satisfaction if accomplished. This can be some kind of interactive play with someone else.
- Find a buddy, someone who you can lean on to help you make progress and meet your goals.
- Educate yourself about the effects of electronic media. How much time does it take away from family, friends, creative endeavors.
- Consider seeing a therapist who is specializes in this behavior. Consider therapy that includes a neuropsychology, such as Brainspotting