For experts, addiction gives the same pleasure as alcohol and drugs. Technology addiction is 'cousin' to disorders like kleptomania and pyromania.
A study by Yahoo consulting firm Flurry found that there are 280 million mobile app "addicts" in the world, but it has no medical base. However, many Brazilians, 10% of the total of Internet users according to specialists from Hospital das Clínicas (SP), have already been diagnosed with a real addiction: it is technology addiction, which makes their victims spend up to 12 hours connected and, when they are off -line, tremble, sweat, have tachycardia and, in extreme cases, even attempt suicide.
"I've been having a lot of panic attacks at various times: sleeping, driving, riding a motorcycle and even diving, man," says 42-year-old MA * dispatcher, who spent ten years treating himself sporadically with anxiolytics. ) until I discovered in December last year that one of the triggers for the attacks was anxiety about not being connected. “I saw that one of the great vectors of my anxiety was technology.”
The 29-year-old architect B.R. began addressing technology dependency in 2014.
Confuse dependency with connection time. It's not the time you spend connected, but the loss of control over technology that defines a dependent. ”
Eduardo Guedes, researcher and director of the Delete Institute, UFRJ
He got in touch with technology at age 16, in the 1980s. From then on, retired news like Orkut and other active things like Instagram came into his life as soon as they were released and soon became an addiction.
“People confuse dependency with connection time. It's not the time you spend connected, but the level of loss of control over technology that defines a dependent, ”explains Eduardo Guedes, researcher and director of the Delete Institute, an organization that treats technology dependents and is from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. January (UFRJ). In Flurry's study, for example, "addicted" is one who opens an app more than 60 times a day.
“I stayed after hours to use the internet. I got stuck in the office because of that, ”he said. Passionate about photos, M.A. has an Instagram account with over 2,500 posts, averaging over three images per day. The fissure was so great that when I traveled to his place, he spent up to three hours editing photos. As the place is outside the coverage area of the cellular network, M.A abandoned her wife and walked to the top of a hill to get a connection and publish the images.
“One does not realize that the need to be connected is increasing, and to get the same pleasure, one has to use it more and more. It's like a drug, ”explains psychologist Sylvia von Enck, from the technology-dependent nucleus of Hospital das Clínicas. “To the extent that one cannot control these impulses in pursuit of pleasure, one will increase these stimuli.”
For this reason, he explains, technological dependence is considered one of the impulse control disorders, as are kleptomania (compulsive shoplifting), pyromania (pleasure in setting fire) and trichotillomania (plucking hair).
For M.A., the lack of control also extended to apps and games. So much so that he has downloaded over 340 mobile programs already and the battles of "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" at dawn were the terror of his wife's nights. "I would tell her, 'Would you rather I have a drink at the bar?'" Alcoholism, as well as drug addiction, and technological dependence produce similar effects of brain satisfaction, Guedes explains.
“In the case of a chemical, there are elements that interfere with neurological functioning. But in the case of the internet, the person releases hormones that generate pleasure and, thus, is somewhat relieved when spending a lot of time connected, playing or in some activity that takes away from a moment of displeasure, anguish and depression, ”says van Enck.
The psychologist says that internet deprivation works as a forced abstinence and can lead to violence. “We've already dealt with some cases of parents coming for help because the high point that their 15-year-old son arrived after throwing objects out of the apartment window was threatening to throw himself. In another case, a 17-year-old boy took a knife and tried to hurt his mother. ”
Without leading to cases of violence, M. lived with the addiction unknowingly for ten years and only began to be treated at the Delete Institute after being advised by a friend. The 29-year-old architect B.R. came to “the center with no idea what was going on” in 2014, right after having an anxiety attack while watching TV with his family.
Without stripping from his phone or PC, he was always waiting for work information and alerting to the slightest sign of application notifications. “If the smartphone vibrated, I was already looking.” After passing the institute, both M.A. and B.R. They say they can handle the disorder. The architect jokes that he became a “copsychologist” of friends and has even indicated the treatment to two acquaintances.
The HC psychologist says, however, that patients with this condition will always have to be alert. “It's a 'high',” he says, even so, in quotation marks, because “sometimes there are situations in which the person recurs, re-introduces compulsive behaviors.”
* The names of technology dependents have been suppressed by the report at their request to preserve the privacy of respondents.
For the doctor Ana Escobar, consultant of the Wellness program, we should be alert when the person stops having a social life and just wants to be connected.
“People stay inside themselves, without friends, without sharing moments. This can be a problem. ”