Have you heard of the term gizmoholic? It is the addiction to electronic devices, a kind of gadget fever. Gadgets or gizmos like mobiles, computers with internet access and electronic games can lead to psychological problems, affect study time and get in the way of being with friends. The Internet is resourceful and fun — but this freedom comes with the possibilities of abuse and addiction.
Remember, use of gadgets is facilitated by today’s easy access via broadband leading to cyber addiction — this encompasses compulsive internet surfing, gaming, getting hooked to computer games, chat rooms and social networking sites. Hence, many of us who spend long hours working on the computer are at risk.
How do you know you are hooked to gizmos?
“Gosh! I missed my class or deadline for submission!” Or “I got late to catch the bus”. All this happens when we are lost surfing the Internet or talking on the cell phone. You really curse yourself when you find you left your gizmo back home. Do you find that you cannot relax without constantly glancing at your mobile screen for text messages? Or do you snap back when your pal or family member asks you to stop fidgeting with your device. Many may stay hooked even after meeting with an accident while chatting on the mobile.
“Talking to a real person is boring! I’d rather text” is a frequent feeling. Do you feel that you spend less time participating in activities with buddies and family — instead attending to your e-mail or returning ‘missed’ calls? Many may send emails or text messages to parents, friends who are in the same house.
Symptoms of gizmo addiction: disturbed sleep, poor eating habits (eating junk food or having little time to eat), poor sitting postures, joint problems or lack of exercise and sunlight are common. Waking up frequently, sweating or anxious to check mobiles or laptops is common; fear of devices failing to work could affect well being. Many may lack awareness about the addictive nature of gadgets.
How do we manage this fever?
* Setting limits: We can learn to healthily enjoy gadgets and use increasing technological advances by setting limits, making self-rules and keeping aside time for relationships (real, non-virtual entities). You can control the urge to respond and choose to ignore unimportant messages on mobiles and emails.
* Healthy diversions: Include physical exercise and activities outside our homes — gym, learn new languages, walks, treks, hobby clubs, time for music, including community work as volunteers.
* Set goals: Fix goals for school work and personal life and go for it! Use reminder cards to keep track.
* Support groups: Group discussions, posters and skits can have themes related to gizmo addiction.
* Gadget holiday: You can make a choice to stay away from chatting via applications. Take a break from the gadget by not carrying it with you for at least a day and realise that life goes on!
* Talk: You could talk to your pal, teacher, family member or school counsellor to help you address the addictive nature of gizmos in your daily life.