Washington, January 26 : An expert at The Menninger Clinic in Houston has come up with warning signs that may indicate whether gizmo obsession is taking over an individual's life or hurting one's relationships.
"We have become so accustomed to the luxuries of technology that we may be forgetting how to play, have personal connections and use coping skills in face-to-face interactions. We can become overloaded by technology and suffer consequences in our relationships," says John O'Neill, director of addictions services for The Menninger Clinic.
O'Neill considers the overuse of technology to be similar to dependency on substances such as alcohol or drugs.
He highlights that a person may be in need to re-evaluate his use of technological devices if he spends less time participating in personal activities, or limits his time with friends and family to attend to his e-mail or return phone calls. Sending SMSes instead of talking face-to-face, and frequently missing appointments because of the use of such devices, also indicates that it's time to review one's use of such technologies.
Not being able to leave home without a gadget, being unable to take a vacation with without bringing four different charging devices for your devices, and being unable to resist constantly checking your e-mail, text messages or using your cell phone are also indications that you need to review your technology use habit.
"When your cell phone ear piece becomes a permanent part of your wardrobe, that's a problem," O'Neill says.
Another set of signs includes difficulty in stopping using such devices despite one's family or friends asking for the same, and becoming irritated when others complain about your use of technology. The problem can also be detected by noticing that you have started to pay more attention to the gadgets than what is happening in real life.
"Take the example of a father and son at a baseball game. A homerun ball heads toward the stands and the father, talking on the cell phone, makes a half-hearted attempt at catching the ball. He does not catch the ball and the son appears dejected. The father never stops his phone call. What could have been a significant bonding moment was derailed by the father's inability to disconnect from technology," O'Neill says.
Continuing your behaviour even after experiencing its consequences, and despite meeting with a car accident while on the cell phone or family members complaining about the lack of attention also point towards the need to review your technology habit.
"Observing people on a daily basis, it is easy to recognize how lost we have become in our own worlds. We can learn to healthily use increasing technological advances if we set limits, develop rules and attend to our relationships. Ultimately, being present in relationships with family and friends should include both body and mind," O'Neill says.