Quick question: how long can you go without looking or checking your phone for email, chat messages or the latest viral video or meme on social media? It’s not an exact science but if you keep reaching for your phone every 15 minutes or it seems to interrupt your day a lot, it might be a pointer to technology addiction.

Over the years, it has become harder to remember what life was like before we were surrounded by technology. You may think the transition has been smooth but our brains are having a hard time adapting to all the tech we have around us today.

Studies have found that our relationship with technology has not only impacted our lives, but it has also changed the way we read and comprehend things, shortened our attention spans (8 seconds, one less than a goldfish’s), our patience and impaired our ability to remember things without checking Google.

And that’s not all; cognitive neuroscientists have identified five brain disorders caused by technology addiction. Read on to see if you’re affected by any.

1. Nomophobia

This became a thing in 2012 and is defined as “the fear of losing or forgetting one’s mobile phone, or of being outside of the phone’s signal area.” No-Mobile + Phobia = Nomophobia.

In one UK survey, 73% of respondents felt some form of panic when they misplaced their phone. For another 14%, that panic spiralled into desperation. Research into this fear is new so it’s possible it’s not entirely bad for our long-term health.

Still, does the feeling of sudden fear over the ‘possible’ loss of a phone sound healthy to you?

2. Technoference

Everyone experiences this. Our devices are an increasing source of interruption during our work, leisure time, conversations, and meals with loved ones. Researchers have dubbed these interruptions “technoference.” Higher technoference correlated directly with lower relationship and life satisfaction according to a 2014 study.

Another study found that smartphones are even interfering with our sex lives. Some participants admitted to rushing sex to answer a phone call or check a notification (God abeg).

3. The Phantom Ring

This is pretty straightforward, it refers to the perception that one’s mobile device is ringing or buzzing when it’s not.

The phantom ring is such a problem that one man studied it for his dissertation. Of the 320 adults he polled, two-thirds reported experiencing the phenomenon. Several other studies had similar findings.

4. Cyberchondria

You may have heard of hypochondria (a condition in which a person is excessively and unduly worried about having a serious illness) but how about cyberchondria? Think of it as the tech-savvy cousin of hypochondria – it specifically refers to people who research and diagnose their own illnesses online.

Almost everyone has looked up an occasional illness, but it becomes a potential psychological issue if the person is already prone to hypochondria. It’s easy to obsess when information on every disease and disorder under the sun is at your fingertips.

For a number of reasons, most medical professionals aren’t too happy about the self-diagnosis trend. It isn’t simply a matter of loss of control or an undermining of their authority through online medical searches. This practice messes with the diagnostic process for real. This is because the results can suggest rare or morbid conditions in patients, which in turn can prompt the appearance of new symptoms. People will have constipation and when they check Web MD, it may be listed as a symptom of kidney failure.

Please, see a doctor instead.

5. Truman Show Delusion

If you’re familiar with movies, the 1998 film ‘The Truman Show’ was about a character (played by Jim Carrey) whose entire life was being broadcast on TV without his knowledge. Truman eventually discovers that his world is not real and decides to escape. The Truman Show Delusion is a false perception that one’s entire life is being broadcast.

Joel Gold, a professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, was the first to identify the syndrome in 2003. Professor Gold believes that the Truman Show Delusion is a direct result of an overly connected, entertainment-obsessed, social media-driven culture that feeds the most narcissistic aspects of our character.

Relax, your entire life isn’t on social media if you don’t put it there

So, again, where do you stand on the technology addiction scale?

Whatever your answer might be, the message here is that of mindfulness. Technology is wonderful but we should be mindful of how we use it and how we let it influence our lives. Always remember that there’s a real-life out there and you’re dealing with real people.

Above all, ensure that your desire to live your best life isn’t impeded by an unhealthy attachment to technology or social media. Your family and friends are important and tech should enhance your relationships, not damage them.

Read more: 5 Fun Activities To Keep Your Brain Healthy

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