How is Tech Addiction Changing Your Behavior?

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How is Tech Addiction Changing Your Behavior?

“Back in my day….” Everyone has heard someone a bit older use a phrase like this. But even young and middle-aged adults have the right to reminisce on a simpler time, since technology has completely changed the way they live in the course of a decade or two.

This is especially true for those who suffer from tech addiction. As the term implies, it’s a step more intense than simply using a smartphone or tablet: tech addiction means that your consumption of digital media has overtaken your real life.

Clearly, this alone is a change in behavior that’s developed alongside technology. But your connected devices are doing more than creating a technological niche—they’re changing the way you live other parts of your life, too. Here are four examples of how your tech might be changing your behavior.

1. You Drive Differently

What do you do at a red light? Pre-tech addiction, you would probably adjust the temperature, check yourself out in the mirror, change the song, hum along… Now, it’s likely that you reach for your phone as soon as you come to a complete stop.

This is one of the worst examples of how tech has changed our behavior because it’s unsafe. You might wait until you’re stopped to look at your phone, but others glance at their devices while they’re actually driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection predict that eight people are killed and 1,161 are injured every single day because of distracted driving. No phone call, text or social media post is worth that.

2. You Have Less Patience

Remember when you used to go to the movies, sit down and watch an entire two-hour film? You did it without scrolling through your feeds during lulls or foregoing the flick to just watch the highlight reels or read reviews online. You had the patience to watch an entire, full-length movie.

Technology has made so many of us so much less patient in more ways than one. With the world at your fingertips, you want to know answers right away and you don’t want to wait around for a conclusion that you can find out with a few taps and a swipe.

3. You Focus Less

To that end, you might find it a lot harder to sit down and focus on something that’s important like, say, work. If your phone is buzzing or you see notifications popping up on your desktop, you will find it very hard to get a single task done.

Many tech addicts end up becoming serial multi-taskers for this reason. And, while it sounds as though multi-tasking would lead you to get more accomplished in less time, it’s actually a less productive work style than sitting down and powering through one to-do at a time.

There are many reasons for that, but one major one is the fact that you have to re-situate yourself every single time you revisit a task and, well, your tech addicted mind will get bored and start on something else, and…you can see how the cycle gets vicious.

4. You Might Be Blatantly Stealing

You’re an honest person, we’re sure. But the digital world begs users to throw their scot-free records to the wind and begin a dishonest life—at least, as far as online content is concerned. With the internet at your fingertips, you can download just about any song, movie, TV show, book, computer game—you name it—that you want. You can often do so for free, thanks to other internet users who put their files online for free download.

It’s a great convenience to you and your wallet, but it means big losses for artists, authors and engineers who create what you’re getting for free. They only get paid if you do, and you probably wouldn’t skip out on a bill if you picked up something in person. Keep that in mind as you surf the web for a movie to watch tonight.

Has Tech Changed You?

Do the above activities and sentiments resonate with you? If so, you might be overly attached to your devices—a “back in my day” refresh sans smartphone might be in order. And, if you want one, you’re in the right place: Unplugged will show you the way to reduce your dependence on your digital devices, no matter how tempting they can be.

Photo: Yacine Petitprez, CC-BY

Anum Yoon is Paste’s Unplugged columnist and a Philly-based blogger who founded Current On Currency.