Can You Use the 12-Step Program to Break Your Addiction to Technology?


Are you concerned that you’re becoming addicted to technology? Studies show millions of Americans feel the same way. 27% of parents and 50% of teens feel they are addicted to their mobile devices.

We may not think of technology addiction in the same way as we do alcoholism or drug abuse, but they might have more in common than we think. Alcoholism is listed as a chronic disease characterized by an uncontrolled preoccupation with alcohol. While that may be true of your relationship to technology, yet technology addiction is absent from the International Classification of Diseases and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

But that does not mean technology addiction doesn’t exist. You may feel powerless against your addiction to technology, like your smartphone, social media, video games, and even Netflix, and you may feel that you need help.

While more research is needed to trace the similarities between alcoholism and technology addiction, our relationships with digital devices may not be entirely healthy.

What Does Technology Addiction Look Like?

With so many people using their phones, spotting the signs of technology addiction can difficult. One person may use their smartphone continuously without feeling addicted to technology, while another person may do the same and have trouble getting through the day.

The signs of tech addiction typically include:

  • Internet or technology usage is interfering with your personal relationships
  • You access the internet or digital devices in secret
  • Your loved ones are concerned with your addiction to technology
  • You have a hard time setting down digital devices or leaving the house

If you’re forced to give up your digital device, whether it’s going to a movie, spending time with friends, or going off the grid, you might experience symptoms of withdrawal, including restlessness, irritability, lack of concentration, dyssomnia, or anger and aggression.

A recent study shows that individuals that gave up their digital devices experienced higher rates of anxiety and struggled with cognitive tasks. Participants also experienced increased heart and blood pressure rates, which can be a sign of withdrawal.

If this sounds familiar, you might be suffering from an addiction to technology.

Internet and Technology Addiction Anonymous (ITAA) and Other Support Groups

If you feel that you need help your addiction to technology, you’re not alone. While using the 12-step program to break your addiction to technology may sound strange, the ITAA is using the same philosophy to help people ween themselves off of their digital devices.

You can visit their website to learn more about this innovative organization. They offer support groups and ITAA meetings across the country. You can also use their online resources to start a new ITAA group in your local community.

A technology treatment center in Seattle is considered the first facility devoted to technology addiction. Members regularly meet up to discuss their addiction to technology in a group-setting, using the 12-step program for advice and support.

You can also reach out to the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction or NetAddiction for consultation and counseling services.

Technology addiction is real and able to be combated.

What Are the 12 Steps of Technology Addiction?

The 12-step program for ITAA is listed as:

  1. HONESTY. Admit that you, or yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.
  2. HOPE. Come to believe that the power greater than ourselves can restore you to health.
  3. TRUST: Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of your higher power as you understand it.
  4. TRUTH: Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.
  5. INTEGRITY: Admit to yourself, to your higher power, and another human being the exact nature of your wrongs.
  6. CHANGE OF HEART: Become entirely ready to have your higher power remove all your character defects.
  7. HUMILITY: Humbly ask your higher power to remove your shortcomings.
  8. BROTHERLY LOVE: Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.
  9. RESTITUTION AND RECONCILIATION: Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. ACCOUNTABILITY: Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.
  11. PERSEVERANCE: Continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, promptly admit it.
  12. SERVICE AND SPIRITUALITY: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, share this message with others who excessively use technology and practice these principles in all you do.

Based on the steps listed above, this program is about admitting your have a problem and practicing mindfulness as you try to break your addiction to technology. If your addiction has led to the pain and suffering of others, you can use this opportunity to redeem yourself and amend those relationships.

While the 12 steps of ITAA may not be for everyone, practicing these ideas can help you become more aware of your relationship to technology. If you feel that your relationship with technology is getting in the way of your ability to accomplish certain tasks or your personal relationships, you can always take steps to improve your relationship to technology.

Reach out to these communities for advice and support if you need help with your addiction to technology.

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