A research psychologist argues that our overuse of technology and media is producing symptoms of serious psychological disorders.
An early student of how the Internet, mobile devices and other technologies affect human behavior, Rosen (Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn, 2010, etc.) notes that many individuals now interact obsessively with technology, cannot be without their mobile devices and must use them during meals, for fear that they will miss something. This overreliance on gadgets and websites can lead to significant psychological problems, which the author calls an iDisorder. The new disorder combines elements of many psychiatric maladies and centers on our relationship technology. Much of his book consists of a discussion of common psychiatric disorders—e.g., communication disorders, ADHD, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, hypochondriasis, schizoaffective and schizotypal disorders, body dysmorphia, voyeurism and addiction) and the ways in which technology use either produces symptoms that match those of certain disorders or exacerbates already existing signs of a disorder. Often, the possible link between behavior and disorder is apparent: “all about me” rants on Facebook and narcissism, constant message-checking and obsessive-compulsive behavior, etc. Rosen draws on research, including his 2011 study of more than 750 individuals examining the level of a person’s psychological health and use of technology. The study found younger people were often “very anxious” in checking text messages, while few older people became anxious about their technologies. While aspects of iDisorder may affect any technology user, Rosen shows it is those who make compulsive, unusually frequent use of mobile and other devices who are most prone to adverse effects. He offers checklists to determine how technology is affecting you, and suggests balance and moderation in using gadgets.
A bit overstated, but a clear warning against becoming someone who brings a smartphone to the dinner table.