2016: The Rise of the Tech Addict

Move over fad dieting, 2016 may see cyber self-control programs become the next big craze.

The term “tech addict” is nothing new. As our technology has advanced, so has our dependency on its delicious fruits.

At the 2007 Lift conference in Geneva, Professor Nada Kakabadse stated, “when we over adopt new technologies to the exclusion of other things, we become an addict.”

Technology’s ubiquitous presence in today’s society has brought with it a range of advantages. People have the ability to be connected almost anywhere in the world and at his or her discretion. But with great power comes great responsibility.

Our social interaction has also drastically evolved. One only has to take a step outside to see the affliction in practice; friends sharing a few drinks in silence as the glow of mobile devices illuminate furrows of concentration.

Heck, it only takes a quick glimpse either side of you while driving to work to see a fellow driver commandeering both a steering wheel and a mobile device.

Work no longer ends at the office or even the home office, with the accessibility of the internet and mobile technology transforming the humble bed into a place of toil.

Sure, the mobility of the office has freed office-dwellers from their chains and allowed for a more flexible work-life balance, but it has come at a cost. Where the nine-to-five hours once permitted a certain level of work-life separation, the rise of technological access has blurred those lines.

According to the Havas PR Trends Report, 11 Trends For 2016 “Expect to see programs of cyber self-control becoming as common as diets and exercise programs. And expect them to have about as much—or as little—effect on the problem.”

Already, many applications exist to curb internet usage. A free, Mac only application called Self-Control helps with blocking out distracting websites and email servers, aimed at boosting productivity. The application allows users to set parameters on which websites to blacklist for a specified time frame.

But this is where things get interesting – even if the application is deleted, the program will still follow through with its instructions. Even a reboot won’t cure the wizardry you’ve cast.

At least with a gym membership, all you have to lose is your hard earned dough; Self-Control will hold a gun to your head on a Sunday morning and march you to the leg-press.

Be like the dog

If Havas’ predictions are correct, the rise of the cyber equivalent to The Biggest Loser’s Commando begs the question, if short-term fixers like cyber self-control are so duly needed, what is the long-term fix?

Psychologist Jocelyn Brewer is in the process of conducting research on a concept that she calls Digital Nutrition.

“Imagine that activities we use technology for (apps, games, social media platforms) came with nutritional labels to help us understand their impacts. Imagine we considered the way we consume digital content the way we have learnt to consider food and its impacts on our wellbeing,” she says.

Brewer’s website laments notions of developing safe practices in conjunction with online technology. Her intent lies with developing ways to work with technology in mind; after all, it isn’t going anywhere soon.

In the wise words of Headspace’s Andy Puddicombe, “We will never look back and wish we had posted more photos, sent more tweets or more texts. But we will almost certainly look back and wish we had taken the time to find some peace of mind and be more interested in those around us.”