The Capio Nightingale Hospital in London houses England’s first technology-addiction centre. Addicts are contracting the computer bug early: according to research published by Cranfield University School of Management in Northampton, of 260 secondary school pupils surveyed, 26 per cent spent more than six hours a day on the internet. The tech-kids admitted to comprising 63 per cent who felt they were addicted to the web, 53 per cent who had a compulsive attachment to their mobile phones and 62 per cent who were bought their first computer the age of eight.

Teenagers are the highest risk group, along with those who’ve had a bereavement, separation or redundancy. We’ve heard about the Texan 13-year-old who developed RSI from texting, and the Korean couple who were building a “cyber-baby” on the internet but neglected to look after their real-life child. Scientists have claimed that juggling email, phone calls and other incoming information changes how we think and behave. It undermines our ability to focus. Having Twitter, RSS, Facebook, Digg and email feeds open at the same time capitalises on a physiological response to opportunities or threats. This stimulation provokes excitement, in the form of dopamine addiction.

The Thingness Of Things

It’s not extending to books very much, though. My friend Mike Cane, longtime vociferous exponent of all things electronic, has been having a rethink about our gadget addiction and finds that the thing standing in the way of our reading enjoyment is not the internet but the eReaders themselves. He’s bravely switched positions (and the guy knows his tech) and is now presenting a very different case. He points out that ‘The thingness of things is going away. Although music via CD, movies via DVD, and books via print still predominate, the inevitable and inescapable trend is downward.’ You can read his thoughts on electronic books here.

2 comments on “iAddiction”

  1. Anne Hill Fernie says:

    I think in the ‘Thingness of Things’ debate, Heidegger was discussing what constitutes a work of art. Is an i-pad a piece of equipment or a ‘work of art’? Re. The latter, he also stated that: ‘In a work of art, the material does not disappear but “shines forth [as if?] for the first time”. The material becomes present in a dramatic way’. So is the gadget the ‘thing’ or the material stored within it? Is a photo online ‘art’ or ‘data’ ……..hmmmm.

  2. CatnEldridg says:

    I don’t really see that there is a meaningful difference between a physical object, say a printed book, and a digital artifact, the same text rendered in digital form. The content’s the same with the only difference being how the data is stored. I love physical and read all of the Bryant and may series in UK hardcovers, but I also listened to some of them as audiobooks. And sampled them as Epubs. Reach worked equally well.

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