Inquiry Question

Hi everybody! Sorry for the late start, as I had a few things to sort out first.

My topic is on technology, specifically Ultraviolet-emitting diodes such as computers, Iphones, TV's, Walkman's, etc. (okay, maybe not Walkman's). I want to figure out their effects on the brain, and why they are so addicting to nearly everyone that uses them. Whether it's social media, or video games, or instant messaging, these technologies have transformed the way we interact with and view the world around us,

I chose this topic because it centres around an issue that has impacted me in ways that were detrimental to my well-being and happiness.     I had always enjoyed playing games on my computer and watching YouTube videos, but about a year ago, the frequency of this began to increase. I started to procrastinate more, putting off more important things like homework and friends. I made excuses, like, "It's been a long day at school, so I deserve a break", or, "I need to balance out entertainment with work", even as the entertainment side was far outbalancing the work side. In short, I was addicted, and it took me far too long to realize it.

This case is by no means exceptional. Millions of people of worldwide face the same plight, yet many are not aware of it. You, reading this post right now, are probably one of them. "But wait", you might be saying,"I don't cruise Facebook or play video games for six hours a day, so I should be fine, right?" Well, let me answer your imaginary question with this: one doesn't smoke a cigarette for six hours a day, do they? Addiction is not measured by the amount of time spent smoking or playing, but rather by the extent it subsumes the willpower, tricking the brain into becoming a psychological dependence as necessary as water or air.

I'm going to start with the neuroscience behind it; looking at the effects of staring at a screen for extended amounts of time compared to not, the areas of our brain that get affected and in what ways, and the reason why we just can't stop checking our damn phones. Then, I'm going to extend it into our behaviour and how it alters our health. Finally, I am going to figure out a set of steps to help us break free of technology's control, as individuals and then hopefully as a society. I may even go without it for a week to test it.

If you have anything to add or question, please let me know as I really welcome your insights!  But first, I have a question of my own. If a catastrophic event occurred that somehow knocked out all our cell towers, how would you fare? Could you adapt to the loss of the giant physiological crutch that is the internet?

Potential resources:

1. Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide for Evaluation and Treatment by Kimberly S. Young

2. The psychology and neurobiology of addiction: an incentive-senstized view (google scholar) T.E. Robinson & K.C. Berridge
3. Mind and Media: The Effects of television, video games, and computers by Patricia M. Greenfield
4. Your Brain on Video Games: A Ted Talk by Daphne Bavelier



Original Post

Interesting project idea, Evan. It's great that you mentioned how addictions cannot be measured by the investment. There are so many overlooked factors to consider. Here are a few interesting journals to consider in perhaps the later section of your project: 

Families’ experiences of caring for technology-dependent children: a temporal perspective

The technologisation of childhood? Young children and technology in the home

Does Home Internet Use Influence the Academic Performance of Low-Income Children?


Hi Evan!

I think that's a really interesting topic to research about as so many people in our world are addicted to technology and would "die" without it. In my opinion, the best way not to get addicted to technology is to never be introduced to it. I remember when I simply had a Nokia cellphone, I never checked it and it never distracted me, but once I got a smartphone and got Instagram I feel like I'm constantly checking my phone. However, in our world, technology is kind of a necessity for us. We need it to do our homework, to text and call, but with so many possibilities, we become addicted to all the entertainment features it also has. 

Here's a couple of articles that talk about the neuroscience behind internet addiction:

As for your question: I, personally, am not super addicted to the internet as some people are, so while it would be an extreme disappointment for me, I think I would adapt by finding other things I enjoy doing, like piano and art.

Hey Evan,

I like where you're going with this. It truly is an major, albeit very first world, problem that has a seemingly unprecedented amount of influence in the lives of many. I thought it was great that you touched on the notion of addiction being measured not by time spent doing something, but rather on the extent which something consumes you. I think that you should, if time allows, do an "expand your thinking section" on how addiction to technology in our consumerist society affects people living in third world countries, whether they have technology or not, and if it makes them think of phones and computers as more of a necessity than they should be thought of. There are some interesting statistics  (Chiefly in the US if I remember correctly) that show how many people living in wont of basic needs put these pleasures high on their survival agenda. Great to see you choosing a topic in which you have some empathy, I find that can greatly enrich the research.

Good luck!


Hey, Evan

 I think your topic is something meaningful. I was addicted to video game and like you said, back at that time video games were like water and air to me. But after I find another hobby ------ play badminton I found out life is not only about video games.  

Here is a link about how to overcome addictions

good luck

Hey Evan,

I think that this is an incredibly interesting topic that could produce very interesting results.  I think you should look into the way a brain behaves or looks, when addicted to a typical drug, or other addictive substance, and then compare it to how a brain behaves when addicted to technology.  Another thing that would be interesting is if you compared different parts of the light spectrum and how addictive they are or impacts their on the brain.  Good luck and i look forward to your research.


Ah yes technology. I'm actually really happy that you are doing this topic because it has a been an increasing concern of mine over the past months. The companies selling these products only advertise the good qualities of these devices, while failing to talk about some of the negative aspects. A very scary thing considering technology is an un-charted area for many people. I myself find myself struggling to detach myself from my devices, and it is surprisingly difficult. Even if I know I need to do homework or sleep I find myself glued to my screens. Now that might be a slight exaggeration, however it is getting rather serious, so I am very keen to learn more about this topic as your project unfolds. Good luck!

Hi Evan,

I think your topic is going to be really interesting to read throughout the cycle. Personally, when I ask myself whether or not I'm addicted to my phone, my answer would be no, because I know that I don't use it as much as some people. However, if I'm bored, it's my go-to distraction and I sometimes even put off homework just because I let myself think that I deserve a break, even though it'd be more logical to just get it done. So I think that the "addiction" would differentiate between people but I also think that it's a relevant topic that's growing more and more serious, because technology has made things so easy that it's not hard to grow lazy nowadays. I'm wondering what the impact will be on the future?

So cool Evan! Never thought about our addiction to technology as being something greater than just the time we spend on it. In that case I would say I'm definitely addicted, I don't spend much time on it as I am very busy and not overly interested in it but I do rely on it a lot for work, communication and socializing. I find it very intriguing how our society does almost nothing to help raise awareness about this addiction, especially in school. You would assume teachers knowing the affects would want to raise awareness but they are probably addicted too! Anyways interested to hear more.

Add Reply