Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Some would have us think we are all mentally ill...

It has been observed recently that the list of mental illnesses cataloged by the American Psychiatric Association has been increasing in step with the number of new pharmaceuticals that have been coming on the market.  But now here comes the claim that we are becoming addicted to technology.

Reuter's New Service posted a report Wednesday, Jan. 23,  quoting John O'Neill, the director of addictions services at the Menninger Clinic in Houston, that the public's use of cell phones and email is approaching "addiction-like behavior."

"We can become overloaded by technology and suffer consequences in our relationships," [O'Neill] added.

O'Neill's observations are backed up by psychologists who have classified technology addiction as an impulse disorder that can be as socially damaging as alcoholism, gambling and drug addiction.

The Internet/Computer Addiction Services in Redmond, Washington, which runs treatment programs and provides therapy, estimate that 6 to 10 percent of the approximately 189 million Internet users in the United States have a dependency on technology.

O'Neill said it's all about teaching people how to manage their behavior in a healthy way.

O'Neill claims that warning signs of  "an unhealthy relationship with technology" are:

  • using text messages, email and voice mail (presumably the writer meant telephone) rather than face-to-face interaction
  • limiting time with friends and family to tend to email, return telephone calls or surf the internet
  • An inability to leave home without a cellphone

Anyone who reads my blog (and I thank all two of you, especially you mom!) knows that I have a love/hate relationship with technology in learning, but even I see a high-priced cure looking for a problem.

First off I think O'Neill is demonstrating his lack of understanding of technology by using the  term to define only electronic communications devices. Technology is broadly defined as the usage and knowledge of tools and crafts [by a speceies] to control and adapt to its environment.   Our automobiles that we use to get around are technology, as are the appliances in our kitchen that we use to store and prepare our meals, and the televisions, radios and books we read to keep us entertained when we are not driving or eating, or using communication devices.

We depend on all of this technology to survive. According to O'Neill we must all be heavily overloaded causing a ripple effect through our relationships. I think Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds gets it right when he says: I think that yammering on about addictions is the habit that some people need to kick...

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