Tag: well-being

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BlogYAct Committee

The Struggle is Real – Overcoming Digital Dopamine Addiction

 

Overcoming digital dopamine addiction requires mindfulness, healthier habits, and internal change for Gen Z’s balanced well-being in the digital age. Gen Z is the most connected generation in history. Smartphones and devices enable constant browsing and scrolling, leading to repeated dopamine hits with each new notification. Is digital dopamine addiction actually harmful? Study conducted by the University of Cambridge shows that almost half of British teenagers feel as if they are addicted to social media. So, how can we combat this growing concern? 

What is Digital Dopamine Addiction?

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in our brains that controls the pleasure and reward centres. When we get likes and messages, reach a new level in a game, or find something new online, our brains release dopamine, which makes us feel good. Over time, we can become addicted to seeking dopamine hits from our digital devices, constantly checking for new content and stimulation. 

Moreover, excessive digital media consumption has been associated with decreased attention span, poor sleep, anxiety, depression, and strained relationships with family and friends. This is primarily due to the  fear of missing out and constant distraction and stimulation, which can overload our brains. A study published by the Lancet shows that for girls across the range of daily social media use, from  5 or more hours, a strong depressive symptoms score is seen; for boys, higher depressive symptom scores were seen among those 3 or more hours daily use.

What can be done about it? 

Many of us need to recognise that there is a shared responsibility. Addressing this growing issue requires a comprehensive approach involving families, schools, technology companies, and, most importantly, young people. Families can set boundaries, such as no device usage during mealtimes or after a particular hour at night. They can also engage in device-free activities and spend quality time together. 96% of parents set limits on their child’s digital habits.

When it comes to schools, the government and school governors have considered implementing smartphone bans during the day. While this may prevent distractions, it’s crucial to address the root issues. Educating students on healthy device usage and digital wellness is not just a suggestion, but a key to their success in the digital age.

Students also need to be self-aware about their digital habits. They can use app limits and website blockers, turn off notifications, and schedule device breaks. They can also replace endless scrolling with other enjoyable activities. 

What do my friends think?

I surveyed 20 friends aged 16-22, and 75% acknowledged some degree of digital addiction tendencies. A few have deleted distracting apps but admitted it’s an ongoing struggle, apps like TikTok Snapchat and Instagram. 80% agree that schools should provide more education on this issue.

Lastly, ultimately, overcoming digital dopamine addiction is about being mindful and developing healthier habits. External limits can provide a necessary structure, but true change comes from within. By recognising the shared responsibility and taking proactive steps, we can help Gen Z navigate the digital age with balance and well-being. The struggle is real, but with concerted effort, it is one we can overcome. Don’t let devices rule your dopamine-take back control of your time and attention. 

BY AZRA OZCAN 

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