Digital Dependence

How addiction to our connected devices affects the workplace

We’ve all seen it. Or done it. And sometimes it seems as if we just can’t help it.

You’re sitting at your desk going over the most recent shipping orders and an alert pops up on you cell phone. A Facebook friend has commented on your most recent post about your cat’s health issues.

So you drop the files and look at the post. Forget the shipping orders – we’re talking about Fluffy’s health here.

There’s a name for an unnatural dependence on our connected devices and inability to put the phone or game console away – it’s called digital addiction.

Technology has evolved to a point that it recognizes what will appeal to us in terms of a sense of belonging or connection with others via social media and will alert us when someone comments on or shares a post you have created or one you have commented on, according to an article in The Conversation.

Instead of ignoring the notification – and succumbing to the fear of missing out – you sneak a peek at the screen.

Or more.

Workforce notes that digital addiction can be broken into three categories:

  • Internet addiction disorder: Excessive, habit-forming internet use that interferes with daily life.
  • Gaming disorder: Uncontrollable and persistent playing of video and digital games, that is harmful to an individual’s well-being at the cost of fulfilling daily responsibilities and pursuing other interests, and without regard for negative consequence.
  • Smartphone addiction: An unstoppable and uncontrollable desire to use one’s smartphone, which interferes with one’s daily life.

It was difficult for someone to feign working while really performing recreational activity before the advent of cell phones. Today, with the constant use of technology and cell phones in the workplace, it’s easier for someone to scroll through Twitter and Facebook without raising suspicion, according to Avocor, a firm that provides interactive screens for business and education.

Jessica Wong, a prevention professional at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Minnesota, says that people can be addicted to technology the same way they are addicted to online porn and video games.

That can cause problems with productiveness and attention to detail in the workplace. Which, in turn, can result in a reprimand or even loss of a job.

Some companies are helping employees with digital dependence. Rewire, an online publication, lists methods being used to limit personal online use while at work. Some examples are:

  • Work with your manager to set healthy limits around work: Some human resources departments have employee assistance programs to help workers deal with digital addiction.
  • Another strategy for reducing digital dependence in the workplace is initiating phone calls and in-person contacts rather than sending emails or messages.
  • HR departments could include restrictions on using cellphones for personal purposes in their employee handbooks, requiring employees to sign documentation that they received the handbook and are aware of the restrictions.





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