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How Can You Be Addicted to the Internet and Digital Media?

The concept of being addicted to a digital media device is relatively new but there is little question as to whether Internet use can be addictive. A study conducted by Dr. Kimberly Young in 1997 found that excessive use of the Internet for non-academic and non-professional reasons was associated with detrimental effects to academic and professional performance. My own original study, conducted in cooperation with ABC News in 1999, found that approximately 6% of those who use the Internet seem to do so compulsively, often to a point of serious negative consequences.   We found that there were several key factors that seem to contribute to becoming addicted to these technologies. They are: accessibility, affordability, time distortion, interactivity, anonymity and pleasurable stimulation. This is in addition to the potent presence of a variable ratio reinforcement schedule.

Most pleasurable activities and certain substances that produce pleasure effects, e.g. elevations in the neurotransmitter dopamine, tend to be repeated. The repetition of pleasurable behaviors exists despite any potential negative consequences, and is well established in the literature. What we find with Internet addiction particularly, is that it seems to mimic the same phenomenon that occurs with addiction to gambling. All Internet addictions seem to follow […]

By |April 19th, 2013|Dr. Dave's Blog|1 Comment

Violent Video Games: The Cultural Ethic of Violence

Violent Reaction
We seem to love violence in our culture. We entertain with it. We advertise with it on the news. We act almost as if violence is desirable—but of course it isn’t. We play video games that teach us how to improve our killing skills. In a digital world clamoring to obtain our moment of focused attention, it seems that only the extreme rises to the top of our consciousness. What of the fact that Americans seem to have a love/hate affair with violence? After all, our country was founded on violent political overthrow and our constitution (as we are hearing all too often these days) guarantees the right for all of us to bear arms. It’s downright American to be a little violent…so it seems.

Violence as Part of Who We Are
There are undoubtedly primitive psychobiological and genetic roots to our attraction to violence. Violence and survival are most certainly linked in our brief rise to modern civilization. What must be asked now is whether we have outgrown our animalistic affinity and attraction to the aggressive part of our humanity. But more recently, violence has been become socially normalized. It has become acceptable, and even commonplace. We have so habituated […]

By |April 17th, 2013|Dr. Dave's Blog|Comments Off on Violent Video Games: The Cultural Ethic of Violence

Smartphones, Not So Smart People

We all love our Smartphones. The problem is that we are not so smart when we use them. They condition us unconsciously to respond to all the bells and beeps with never ending attention; all this leads to overuse, elevated levels of stress hormones, and leaves us near-addicted and tied to our phones like a virtual ball and chain. Consider putting your phone down for a few hours, leave it home when you go out for dinner, and really try not sleep with it under your pillow! The Idea is to recover some tech down time and to rediscover the world without being so virtually connected. Plug Back into Life!

By |April 17th, 2013|Dr. Dave's Blog|1 Comment

Technology and Reality. Movie Review: “Reality Show”,

I recently had the opportunity to preview Adam Rifkin’s new film that will be   premiering at the SXSW Film Festival on March 8, 2013. I’m not starting this commentary by stating that I had the pleasure of viewing this movie, as  pleasure is not quite the right word. Rather, I liken what Rifkin has so cleverly done with this film to movies by David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino in that that it packs a lot of message into a powerful, albeit disturbing, visually-injected package. Indeed, like all medicines that have a potential positive effect, the message Rifkin delivers here is the allure and potential destructive force of  unbridled media technology; and how the promise of ratings and success distort the judgment Rifkin’s character (Mickey Wagner) played ably by himself.

We painfully watch Wagner loose his tenuous grasp on any moral compass in order to satisfy the shadowy Network’s’ quest for more stimulating content. Like in “Natural Born Killers”, the film is just plausible enough to cross into the realm of possibility.  Although in essence it is a satire, it kind of grabs you with the feeling “Oh no, that couldn’t really happen, could it?”

The intrusion, accessibility, and moral-bending power of digital media technology […]

By |March 5th, 2013|Dr. Dave's Blog|Comments Off on Technology and Reality. Movie Review: “Reality Show”,

Does all this technology make us more productive?

The problem with all forms of digital technology, including Internet,  smartphones,  texting, email, and all forms of digital media communication, is that they eat and waste a lot of time. There are productivity loss estimates as high as 3 hours spent every work day on non-work related online activities. Add this to glitches and technical problems associated with using our technology and one can see how easy it is to waste time. As well, we all experience a sense of time distortion or dissociation when online–we loose track of time and space. We are incapable of not spending more time online than we think we are spending.

By |June 22nd, 2012|Dr. Dave's Blog|1 Comment

Smartphones are the world’s smallest slot machines…

Internet technology, including Smartphones, operate on a variable ratio reinforcement schedule-just like a slot machine used in gambling.  All aspects of information sought after and found on the Internet occur within this variable ratio reinforcement environment. The Internet  operates with a high degree of unpredictability and novelty and it is this unpredictability that facilitates the compelling nature of the Internet’s attractiveness.  The reinforcement/reward factor seem to be the most significant element in contributing to the addictive nature of the Internet and other digital media technologies. The Internet functions on a variable ratio reinforcement schedule (VRRS). Whether it’s gaming, sexual content, e-mail,  texting,  facebook, shopping or general information surfing, they all support unpredictable and variable reward structures.

By |June 20th, 2012|Dr. Dave's Blog|2 Comments