Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Boredom and technology addiction

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Boredom and technology addiction:
What is the relationship between boredom and technology addiction and what can be done about it?

Overview[edit | edit source]

In the current innovative society, a steady increase of advancements in technology is prevalent, now more than ever modern technology is easily accessible to everyone[grammar?]. This allow[grammar?] individuals who suffer from boredom to be able to use computer PCs, tablets, mobile phones, smart televisions [grammar?] all compatible with internet connection to have access to content and communication can be done via the touch of your fingers. With technology being so readily available, addiction in usage are [grammar?] also an arising issue amongst users of such technology, [grammar?] internet addiction is a dominant type of technology addiction seen today in all ages.

This chapter explores the relationship between boredom and technology addiction and discuss [grammar?] what are some of the solutions available to combat these issues. Through the exploration of emotion theories [grammar?] this chapter outlines how and why boredom is linked to technology addiction and the psychological problems that result from it. The chapter begins by outlining what boredom and technology addiction is, involving descriptives of key characteristics and theories. Next, the exploration of the relationship and technology addiction is discussed in consideration of theories and research found[awkward expression?]. Finally, techniques and interventions of how technology/internet addiction can treated and remedied is explored[grammar?].

Focus questions:

  • What is boredom and technology addiction?
  • Why do bored individuals suffer from technology addiction?
  • What psychological problems are correlated with technology addiction?
  • What can be implemented to help technology addiction?

Definitions[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

What is boredom?[edit | edit source]

Boredom is the feeling of disinterest in a current state of mind or situation and is described as "an affective indicator of unsuccessful attentional engagement in valued goal-congruent activity" (Westgate & Wilson, 2020). We frequently experience boredom, this may include waiting in a long line at the post office, watching an uninteresting documentary that you have been convinced to view or even just daily chores such as filling up the dishwasher. "Whether we are able to focus on or be engaging in a task determines our level of correlation to boredom, indicating our interests or lack thereof" (Westgate & Wilson, 2020).

Figure 1. Disinterested girl who is bored, depicts boredom by looking out the window. People who experience boredom tend to portray a monotony attitude.

What is technology addiction?[edit | edit source]

"The prevalence of technology is on the rise, children and adults are constantly staring down at their devices, or working on their tablets of laptops, instead of using communication methods though face to face (, 2017)". In present day it is a common occurrence to see several people of all ages including children, teenagers, adults and even the elderly glues[grammar?] to their smartphones or other technological devices out in public instead of making conversation in person. "With technology constantly evolving and becoming readily accessible it makes sense in our world that it is a necessity in our lifestyle, but it may also lead to negative consequences (, 2017)".

Frequent usage and a strong dependence on technology can influence people's lives in a negative aspect significantly[awkward expression?], "obsessive behaviour and extremely frequent use of technology can be defined as technology addiction (Hawi & Samaha, 2018)". The results of addiction to technology can be quite devastating leading to consequences "that span from mild annoyance when away from technology to feelings of isolation, extreme anxiety, and depression (Koerth-Baker, 2016)".

Causation of addiction towards technology[edit | edit source]

The natural human need for interaction, stimulation and excitement with a desire for instantaneous change can be remedied by technology, with it being so easily accessible and prompt, [grammar?] people can conveniently turn to technology for an easy and quick way to patch up what they're lacking in their life. This may be in the field of romance where dating apps and online dating websites are much more prevalent, catering for those whom are not able to have that romantic interaction in person. With such applications being so available on the internet, you can see how it can become a very easy way to fulfil a basic human need and therefore pose a risk at[grammar?] being addictive.

Video and computer games, smartphones and tablets, social media and the Internet provide a variety of access points that can promote dependence on technology and negative consequences for youth:

  1. The Internet: The Web can be extremely addictive, with the amount of sources and entertainment readily available online for anyone to access, it is an endless world[grammar?]. There are subsequent findings to support the notion "that excessive use of the Internet is a product of gratification of individuals with certain characteristics, such as high level of loneliness, low self-esteem and certain cognitive factors (Lee & Lim, 2020) whom[grammar?] are more prone to the risk of being addicted to internet usage.
  2. Video and Computer games: In this current generation, video and computer games are extremely popular and high in demand[factual?]. Ways people connect or socialise with their friends now are through their playstation or x-box[factual?]. Being immersed in an[grammar?] gaming environment allows the time to pass so quickly, and the realistic feeling of being in another dimension or world makes it even more addicting, as the real life world may just seem too mundane to gamers which creates that attachment of themselves to gaming world[factual?]. "In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) included Internet Gaming Disorder in an appendix as a preliminary disorder requiring more research, and the World Health Organisation recently added it as an official diagnosis, highlighting an increased interest in Internet-related addictions (Acuff, MacKillop & Murphy, 2020)."
  3. Smartphones, tablets, and lifestyle technologies: Smartphones, tablets and smartwatches are highly versatile technology that allows to be very mobile and conveniently carried to be accessible[grammar?]. These devices have the power to allow you to constantly stay informed and connected to the world, bringing and retrieving information to you at a speed of instance[awkward expression?]. Excessive use of smartphones all day, may lead to some users to experience mental problems due to the considerable amount of usage[grammar?]. In particular, "as users 'socialise' via smartphones, they gravitate toward a virtual social life, becoming introverted and lonely in their real lives (Serin, Durmaz & Polat, 2019)". Consequently, smartphone addiction may lead to mental problems in such individuals[factual?].
  4. Social media: Social media presents individually-relevant information in the easiest ways, personalised portals, like a Facebook newsfeed, YouTube subscription, or Instagram follower-ship allows us to be the first to access the latest update or news[grammar?]. Whether it's a Skype conversation with our grandmother overseas or a Twitter reply to the Prime Minister, social media feeds our need for human connection by allowing us to share feedback with those who are far from us in time, geography, or social status. As highly social animals, "we need human contact for emotional and psychological health, the appeal of social media is that it aids us to fulfil our social requirements without the needs of face to face socialisation (Anspach & Carlson, 2018)".

Relationship between Boredom and Risk in Technology Addiction[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Risks in technology use[edit | edit source]

Anything is excessive of overuse can pose certain key risks especially in technology. The online world of technology can give individuals a false sense of security as they are able to establish a communicative relationship with anonymous individuals anywhere geographically. "The speed with which technology moves makes everything a person might be looking for, readily available within seconds, which encourages an unhealthy desire for instant gratification (, 2017)".

Sleep disorders such as insomnia can develop as individuals stay up all night addicted to the use of technology, and "as a result, academic, athletic, work and social performance can suffer (, 2017)". In a snow-ball effect, weight gain and other complications of a poor diet, terrible sleeping pattern and sedentary lifestyle, may lead to higher risks of diseases. "In-person social skills and face to face communicative skills may also deteriorate (Chang et al., 2016)".

Boredom proneness and internet addiction among individuals with ADHD[edit | edit source]

"Internet addiction has substantial adverse effects on physical and mental health and interpersonal relationships; it also diminishes the academic performance of adolescents (Young, 1996)". "Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common psychiatric disorder among adolescents with Internet addiction (Bozkurt et al., 2013)". "The risk of Internet addiction was significantly associated with the severity of ADHD symptoms among adolescents in community (Yen et al., 2007)". "A prospective community study also indicated that ADHD predicts the occurrence of Internet addiction in adolescents during a 2-year follow-up period (Ko et al., 2009)". The results of previous studies support the observation that Internet addiction warrants early prevention in adolescents with ADHD [factual?].

High boredom proneness has been considered one of the core symptoms in individuals with ADHD, which usually results in impaired academic function and difficulties in interpersonal relationships[factual?]. Adults with high boredom proneness performed poorly on measures of sustained attention and exhibited increased symptoms of ADHD (Malkovsky, Merrifield, Goldberg & Danckert, 2012). Given that Internet use can provide rapid responses, immediate rewards, and multiple windows with different activities, which may reduce the feeling of boredom, the hypothesis that high boredom proneness is significantly associated with the risk of Internet addiction among adolescents with ADHD is reasonable (Ko et al., 2009).

"This study examined the associations between boredom proneness and Internet addiction and activities as well as the moderating effects of demographic, parental, and ADHD characteristics on these associations in adolescents with ADHD (Chou, Chang & Yen, 2018)". We have three hypotheses. First, the scores for the lack of internal stimulation and external stimulation on the BPS-SF measuring boredom proneness are significantly associated with the risk of Internet addiction in adolescents with ADHD. Second, "boredom proneness has various relationships with different types of Internet activities (Chou, Chang & Yen, 2018)". Third, due to the scarcity of previous studies, we hypothesised that the demographic, parental, and ADHD characteristics moderate the association between boredom proneness and Internet addiction and activities in adolescents with ADHD. The participants’ demographic, parental, and ADHD characteristics, Internet addiction and activities, and boredom proneness are presented in Table 1.

Table 1.

Demographic characteristics, ADHD and Internet usage characteristics, and the levels of boredom proneness (adapted findings from Chou et al., 2018)

n (%) Mean (SD) Range
Girls 41 (13.7)
Boys 259 (86.3)
Age (years) 12.8 (1.8) 10-18
ADHD symptoms on the SNAP-IV
Inattention 12.7 (5.8) 0-27
Hyperactivity/impulsivity 8.8 (6.0) 0-27
Receiving medication for ADHD 254 (84.7)
Having Internet addiction 42 (14.0)
Internet activities
Online gaming 264 (88.0)
Online chatting 212 (70.7)
Online watching movie 248 (82.7
Online studying 100 (33.3)
Boredom proneness on the BPS-SF
Lack of internal stimulation 24.6 (7.0) 6-42
Lack of external stimulation 18.3 (7.5) 6-42

ADHD: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; BPS-SF: Boredom Proneness Scale-Short Form; SNAP-IV: Swanson, Nolan, and Pelham, Version IV Scale.

Co-morbid psychiatric symptoms and internet addiction[edit | edit source]

Results from a study conducted by Chou et al., (2007) demonstrated that adolescents with Internet addiction had higher ADHD symptoms, depression, social phobia, and hostility. "Higher ADHD symptoms, depression, and hostility are associated with Internet addiction in male adolescents, and only higher ADHD symptoms and depression are associated with Internet addiction in female students (Yen et al., 2007)". Several factors have been associated with excessive internet use; psychopathological, social, personality traits.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)[edit | edit source]

ADHD has been repeatedly linked to addiction. ADHD is a behavioural disorder defined by either an attentional dysfunction, hyperactive/impulsive behaviour or both (DSM-5). It is the most common neuro-developmental disorder and its worldwide prevalence in children and adolescence is 3.4% (Panagiotidi & Overton, 2018). The symptoms persist into adulthood in roughly half of the children diagnosed with ADHD. Therefore, ADHD has also been validated as an adulthood disorder, with remaining symptoms in adults including distractibility and difficulties with maintaining goal-directed behaviour rather than hyperactivity (Panagiotidi & Overton, 2018). In addition to this, ADHD psychopathology can be viewed dimensionally, with inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms distributed continuously in the general population.

"Certain traits found in those with ADHD (e.g. impulsivity, boredom, restlessness) have been shown to play a key role in addiction (Panagiotidi & Overton, 2018)". In particular, being diagnosed with "ADHD has been linked to illegal substance use at a younger age, when not treated with medication and stimulant therapy (Panagiotidi & Overton, 2018)". Individuals with ADHD also demonstrate addictive behaviour with forms of interactive media[factual?]. In addition to this, problematic use of technology has been found in individuals with high level of ADHD symptoms but without a diagnosis. "Previous research suggests that there is a positive relationship between ADHD and Internet Addiction (IA) in adolescents and young adults (Panagiotidi & Overton, 2018)". Ko et al. (2009), found that students with IA are more likely to have adult ADHD. "A 2-year prospective study found that adolescents diagnosed as ADHD were the most likely to be addicted to the Internet than other psychiatric symptoms such as hostility and social phobia (Ko et al., 2009)". The bio-psychosocial model of ADHD proposes that “being easily bored” and “having an aversion for delayed rewards” are two key symptoms in ADHD (Yen et al., 2007). Both symptoms can be related to excessive internet use; being online can decrease the feeling of boredom and provide immediate rewards. Thus, ADHD could be a possible risk factor that may lead to IA.

Depression[edit | edit source]

Adolescents and children are more vulnerable to pathologic Internet use as they have less ability to control their enthusiasm for something that awakens their interests, like Internet or computer games. Continuously escaping from real life into cyberspace is often associated with serious problems in daily life for adolescents. In a study conducted by Ha et al. (2007), internet addiction was significantly associated with depressive symptoms and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Regarding biogenetic temperament and character patterns, high harm avoidance, low directness, low cooperativeness and high self-transcendence were correlated with Internet addiction. "In a multivariate analysis, among clinical symptoms depression was most closely related to Internet addiction, even after controlling for differences in biogenetic temperament (Ha et al., 2007)". This study reveals a significant association between Internet addiction and depressive symptoms in adolescents. This association is supported by temperament profiles of the Internet addiction group.

In another study by Dieres-Hirch et al. (2017), depressive patients with and without Internet addiction were compared regarding depression severity and psychological stress. In addition, predictors of Internet addiction in depressive patients were investigated. The results presented significantly higher tendencies for Internet addiction in the group of depressive patients. The prevalence of Internet addiction in this group was considerably high (36%). "In addition, depressive patients with Internet addiction showed consistently but insignificantly higher symptom severity and psychological stress compared with patients without Internet addiction (Dieris-Hirche et al., 2017)". Both groups of depressive patients were significantly higher burdened with depressive symptoms and psychological stress than the healthy controls. Low age and male sex were particularly important predictors of Internet addiction in the group of depressive patients. The results are in accordance with previously published findings in other fields of addiction disorders[factual?].

Social phobia[edit | edit source]

Social phobia is defined as being afraid of being evaluated by others and a state of experiencing abasement, embarrassment, or fear of becoming a laughing stock due to behaviours (Koyuncu, Alkin & Tükel, 2016). This negative psychological condition restrains individuals from entering into a social surrounding and establishing interpersonal relations, and impairs their quality of life. Social phobia observed especially during adolescence period affects adversely the social life of adolescents and prompts them to use the Internet as an alternative (Chen et al., 2011). Consequently, it causes social isolation as it is reported that individuals prefer to use the Internet to cope with stress caused by social phobia. In a study by Yayan et al. (2016), there was a positive correlation between Internet addiction and social phobia. The form of time spent on Internet was examined in terms of addiction and social phobia; although Internet addiction was related to games, dating sites, and web surfing, social phobia was related to homework, games, and web surfing. "The hypothesis was that adolescents with social phobia were Internet addicts, and the participants used the Internet to spend time rather than socialise due to their existing or development of social phobia was valid (Yayan et al., 2016)".

  1. ADHD, Depression and Social Phobia all correlated with Internet Addiction.
  2. Individuals diagnosed with either ADHD, Depression or Social Phobia are highly likely to suffer from Internet Addiction.
  3. Having an Internet Addiction also puts you at risk of developing symptoms of ADHD, Depression or Social Phobia.

Theoretical frameworks[edit | edit source]

A genetic study reported a genetic predisposition for chemical and behavioural addictions[factual?]. In ‘reward deficiency syndrome’ theory, the lack of D2[explain?] receptors causes individuals to have a high risk for addictive, impulsive and compulsive behaviours, such as alcohol or nicotine dependence, technology addiction, pathologic gambling and conduct disorders[factual?]. Sometimes this is framed as a pre-existing trait; sometimes it is framed as an acquired condition.

Reward deficiency syndrome theory[edit | edit source]

The dopaminergic system, and in particular the dopamine D2 receptor, has been implicated in reward mechanisms. The net effect of neurotransmitter interaction at the mesolimbic brain region induces "reward" when dopamine (DA) is released from the neuron at the nucleus accumbens and interacts with a dopamine D2 receptor. "The reward cascade" involves the release of serotonin, which in turn at the hypothalamus stimulates enkephalin, which inhibits GABA at the substania nigra, which in turn fine tunes the amount of DA released at the nucleus accumbens or "reward site" (Blum et al., 2000). It is well known that under normal conditions in the reward site DA works to maintain our normal drives. In fact, DA has become to be known as the "pleasure molecule" and/or the "anti-stress molecule."

When DA is released into the synapse, it stimulates a number a DA receptors (D1-D5) which results in increased feelings of well-being and stress reduction. A consensus of the literature suggests that when there is a dysfunction in the brain reward cascade, which could be caused by certain genetic variants (polygenic), especially in the DA system causing a hypo-dopaminergic trait, the brain of that person requires a DA fix to feel good. "This trait leads to multiple drug-seeking behaviour because alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, nicotine, and glucose all cause activation and neuronal release of brain DA, which could heal the abnormal cravings (Blum et al., 2000)". Certainly after ten years of study we could say with confidence that carriers of the DAD2 receptor A1 allele have compromised D2 receptors[factual?]. Therefore lack of D2 receptors causes individuals to have a high risk for multiple addictive, impulsive and compulsive behavioural propensities, such as severe alcoholism, cocaine, heroin, marijuana and nicotine use, glucose bingeing, pathological gambling, sex addiction, ADHD, Tourette's Syndrome, autism, chronic violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizoid/avoidant cluster, conduct disorder and antisocial behaviour. "In order to explain the breakdown of the reward cascade due to both multiple genes and environmental stimuli (pleiotropism) and resultant aberrant behaviours, Blum united this hypo-dopaminergic trait under the rubric of a reward deficiency syndrome (Blum et al., 2000)".

Control-value theory[edit | edit source]

The theory provides an integrative framework for analysing the antecedents and effects of emotions experienced in achievement and academic settings. It is based on the premise that appraisals of control and values are central to the arousal of achievement emotions, including activity-related emotions such as enjoyment, frustration, and boredom experienced at learning, as well as outcome emotions such as joy, hope, pride, anxiety, hopelessness, shame, and anger relating to success or failure.

One important feature of the control-value theory in a study by Blum et al. (2000), "is not only the assumption of a linear relation between control and the emerging negative emotion boredom, but rather assuming that control and value appraisals determine achievement emotions in a complex non-linear pattern (Pekrun, 2006)". It concluded that students’ boredom is not only influenced by value and control in an additive way but that they interact in a rather dynamical manner. More explicitly, "the control-value theory postulates a non-compensatory relation of value and control in predicting boredom, so that the lowest degree of boredom implies increased value and control (Kögler & Göllner, 2018)". "Corollaries of the theory pertain to the multiplicity and domain specificity of achievement emotions; to their more distal individual and social antecedents, their effects on engagement and achievement, and the reciprocal linkages between emotions, antecedents and effects; to the regulation and development of these emotions; and to their relative universality across genders and cultures (Pekrun, 2006)".

Quiz questions[edit | edit source]

1 "The reward cascade" involves the release of?

anti-stress molecule
pleasure molecule

2 The Control-value theory is based on the premise that appraisals of control and values are central to the arousal of achievement emotions.


Interventions and ways to treat internet addiction[edit | edit source]

A growing number of therapists and inpatient rehabilitation centres are often treating Web addicts with the same approaches, including 12-step programs, used to treat chemical addictions. Because the condition is not recognised in psychiatry as a disorder, insurance companies do not reimburse for treatment. So patients either pay out of pocket, or therapists and treatment centres bill for other afflictions, including the nonspecific impulse control disorder. "There is at least one inpatient program, at Proctor Hospital in Peoria, Ill., which admits patients to recover from obsessive computer use (Kershaw, 2005)". Experts there said they see similar signs of withdrawal in those patients as in alcoholics or drug addicts, including profuse sweating, severe anxiety and paranoid symptoms.

Psychotherapy[edit | edit source]

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behaviour that are behind people's difficulties, and so change the way they feel.

Treatment programs developed by counsellors to understand what the attraction of internet is to the client is useful. "Cognitive-based approaches are encouraged when dealing with individuals suffering from internet/technology addiction (Nichter & Edmonson, 2005)". Such approach is recommended as they are proven to be particularly successful at treating internet addictions due to their direct focus of problem reduction and relapse prevention[grammar?].

Pharmacotherapy[edit | edit source]

Escitalopram is used to treat depression and anxiety. It works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain. Escitalopram belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI). In a study by Shaw & Black (2008), it was reported that escitalopram reduced the subject's urges for online gaming, which is an issue of a sub-category that falls under technology/online addictions (Shaw & Black, 2008).

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The relationship between boredom and technology addiction and displays the many risks involved[grammar?]. A large focus on individuals with ADHD explained the relation of boredom and technology/internet addiction. Individuals suffering from ADHD possess restlessness, impulsivity and ultimately boredom which leads to a high risk of addiction and conveniently indefinitely internet addiction. As the internet is easily accessible, extremely convenient and immediately able to entertain or feed a high psychologically especially to those who have ADHD as they constantly need that[grammar?]. Interventions can be implemented to help and support individuals with IA from counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrist. In regards to previous studies, either CBT which is a form of psychotherapy or escitalopram which is a form of pharmacotherapy may be used to treat those who possess an IA.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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External links[edit | edit source]