/ Technology

Ditching your tech can feel like going “cold turkey”

Distressed girl with head in hands

Discarding your mobile phone or turning off your laptop can apparently create withdrawal symptoms similar to those suffered by drug addicts. Do you feel like you’re going “cold turkey” when you’ve cast off your tech?

I’ve already written about those of us who check Facebook before we go to bed. We just can’t help nodding off with our mobile phone or laptop in hand.

Which? Convo commenter Gareth is a Facebook addict, ‘I have to check [Facebook] before I turn in and before I get out of bed. Scarily now a set part of my day.’

Naomi joined the chorus, ‘I’m afraid I’m the same as Gareth above […] and I happen to have trouble getting to sleep, and also wake up often in the night… hmmm.’

As Naomi implies, maybe they’re related. So it might be a good idea to prize your hands off your gadgets and spend more time on your own. But if that ever happened, how would it make you feel?

Unplugging brings withdrawal symptoms

An experiment dubbed “Unplugged” endeavoured to find out. Volunteers from 12 of the world’s universities spent 24 hours without access to mobiles, computers, TVs, radios etc. Personally, I don’t think 24 hours is very long – I think I could achieve that without adverse effects. Still, the results were somewhat revealing.

Participants are said to have developed symptoms similar to those suffered by smokers trying to give up. Students said they felt anxious, fidgety and isolated, often reaching for their mobile phone even when it wasn’t there.

Some described getting over their dependence as like going on a diet, or trying to break a hard drug habit. We won’t ask how these students knew what going “cold turkey” actually felt like…

Do you suffer from Information Deprivation Disorder?

So breaking yourself away from your many gadgets not only comes with psychological symptoms, but also physical ones. This has earned the condition a name – Information Deprivation Disorder.

Of course, participants also enjoyed positive effects as they began to cope with their technological abstinence – going out for walks instead of fidgeting on their PC.

It was actually a lack of music that hit participants the hardest – the silence was just unbearable for many. And that’s something I can relate too, I love my music and will often be heard listening to the same track on repeat.

Do you suffer from a technological addiction? And if you’ve ever given it all up have you suffered any withdrawal symptoms? Because I’ll put my hand up and admit that I too suffer from Information Deprivation Disorder – though I doubt I’d compare it to going cold turkey.

Phil says:
5 January 2011

What a bunch of nancys.

I never take my laptop away with me on holiday and the mobile is generally switched off, I usually just check it once or twice a day for any important messages. That’s two whole weeks. Miss it? Not really, it’s good to get away from it all for a bit.

Completely agree – I don’t miss them at all

I miss them – if I remain in the environment in which I am used to using them.
eg. If I am on holiday but at home & the internet were to go down, I’d no doubt get a bit fidgety!

However, if I am in an unfamiliar environment, the absence of phone / internet causes me little to no qualms whatsoever.

I enjoy accessing the internet but also use my iPhone 4 extensively to listen to music and take photographs. If i didn’t have the phone with me to capture an image I suspect I’d feel that loss greater than the loss of internet connection.

Christopher says:
6 January 2011

I find myself up at night, not being able to sleep, with multiple windows open reading different articles and websites at the same time till 2 or 3 in the morning. I think I may have a dependency on technology, but sometimes I can’t stand to be around my computer. I will not go near it all day because the screen either hurts my eyes or just annoys me. Thankfully I stay productive as well and do digital art a lot.

I’m rarely far away from a computer or laptop. Mobile broadband is great for for checking email and keeping up to date when on holiday. I don’t think I spend more time with the computer than most people do watching TV (which I rarely watch). Whether I’m addicted or not, I don’t know and I don’t intend to find out.

I could easily live without a mobile phone, though they are extremely useful when on holiday.