Tuesday August 20, 2019

A Rehab For Tech Addicts

They commit to eating well and regular sleep and exercise. They find jobs, and many eventually return to college.

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Technology, addiction
A young men gather to talk after a 12-step meeting for Internet & Tech Addiction Anonymous in Bellevue, Wash., Dec. 8, 2018. VOA

We like to say we’re addicted to our phones or an app or some new show on a streaming video service.

But for some people, tech gets in the way of daily functioning and self-care. We’re talking flunk-your-classes, can’t-find-a-job, live-in-a-dark-hole kinds of problems, with depression, anxiety and sometimes suicidal thoughts part of the mix.

Suburban Seattle, a major tech center, has become a hub for help for so-called “tech addicts,” with residential rehab, psychologists who specialize in such treatment and 12-step meetings.

“The drugs of old are now repackaged. We have a new foe,” Cosette Rae says of the barrage of tech. A former developer in the tech world, she heads a Seattle area rehab center called reSTART Life, one of the few residential programs in the nation specializing in tech addiction.

Smart Compose, Google, tech
Help is found at facilities like reSTART. Clients “detox” from tech at a secluded ranch and move on to a group home. Pixabay

Use of that word — addiction — when it comes to devices, online content and the like is still debated in the mental health world. But many practitioners agree that tech use is increasingly intertwined with the problems of those seeking help.

An American Academy of Pediatrics review of worldwide research found that excessive use of video games alone is a serious problem for as many as 9 percent of young people. This summer, the World Health Organization also added “gaming disorder” to its list of afflictions. A similar diagnosis is being considered in the United States.

It can be a taboo subject in an industry that frequently faces criticism for using “persuasive design,” intentionally harnessing psychological concepts to make tech all the more enticing.

One addict’s story

One 27-year-old man, found through a 12-step program for tech addicts, works in the very industry that peddles the games, videos and other online content that has long been his vice. He does cloud maintenance for a suburban Seattle tech company and constantly finds himself fending off temptation.

“I’m like an alcoholic working at a bar,” he laments. He spoke on the condition that he not be identified, fearing he might harm his career in an industry he’s long loved.

Technology, Addiction, tech
A 27-year-old self-described tech addict poses for a portrait in front of a video game store at a mall in Everett, Wash., Dec. 9, 2018. VOA

As a toddler, he sat on his dad’s lap in their Seattle area home as they played simple video games on a Mac Classic II computer. By early elementary school, he got his first Super Nintendo system and spent hours playing Yoshi’s Story, a game where the main character searched for “lucky fruit.”

As he grew, so did one of the world’s major tech hubs. Led by Microsoft, it rose from the nondescript suburban landscape and farm fields here, just a short drive from the home he still shares with his mom, who split from her husband when their only child was 11.

As a teen, he took an interest in music and acting but recalls how playing games increasingly became a way to escape life. “I go online instead of dealing with my feelings,” he says.

He’d been seeing a therapist for depression and severe social anxiety. But attending college out of state allowed more freedom and less structure, so he spent even more time online. His grades plummeted, forcing him to change majors, from engineering to business.

After graduating in 2016 and moving home, he’d go to a nearby restaurant or the library to use the Wi-Fi, claiming he was looking for a job but having no luck.

Technology, addiction
Robel, an 18-year-old tech addict from California, leaves a barn after helping feed animals at the Rise Up Ranch outside rural Carnation, Wash., Dec. 10, 2018. VOA

Instead, he was spending hours on Reddit, an online forum where people share news and comments, or viewing YouTube videos. Sometimes, he watched online porn.

‘Detox’

Others who attend a 12-step meeting of the Internet & Tech Addiction Anonymous know the struggle.

“I had to be convinced that this was a ‘thing,”‘ says Walker, a 19-year-old from Washington whose parents insisted he get help after video gaming trashed his first semester of college. He agreed to speak only if identified by first name, as required by the 12-step tenets.

Help is found at facilities like reSTART. Clients “detox” from tech at a secluded ranch and move on to a group home.

They commit to eating well and regular sleep and exercise. They find jobs, and many eventually return to college. They also make “bottom line” promises to give up video games or any other problem content, as well as drugs and alcohol, if those are issues. They use monitored smartphones with limited function — calls, texts and emails and access to maps.

interactive, digital, tech
Some commonly known digital media formats include social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube

The young tech worker didn’t go to reSTART. But he, too, has apps on his phone that send reports about what he’s viewing to his 12-step sponsor, a fellow tech addict named Charlie, a 30-year-old reSTART graduate.

At home, the young man also persuaded his mom to get rid of Wi-Fi to lessen the temptation.

Also Read: Social Media addiction Linked to Binge Drinking in Students

He still relapses every couple months, often when he’s tired or upset or very bored. He tells himself that his problem isn’t as bad as other tech addicts.

“Then,” the young man says, “I discover very quickly that I am actually an addict, and I do need to do this.”

Having Charlie to lean on helps. “He’s a role model,” he says.

“He has a place of his own. He has a dog. He has friends.”

That’s what he wants for himself. (VOA)

Next Story

42% of Organizations Struggling with Sourcing Quality Tech Talent Globally

Lack of budget came a close second for nearly a quarter of the respondents (24 per cent), said the survey titled 'Tech Hiring & Technology Adoption Trends 2019'

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Organizations, Tech, Talent
The survey by talent assessment company Mercer|Mettl found that more than 32 per cent of organizations lacked sufficient knowledge about the tools for conducting effective assessment methodologies across all the stages of the hiring process. Pixabay

Nearly 42 per cent of organizations globally are struggling with sourcing quality tech talent globally, while 20 per cent cited the time taken to close a tech position as the primary challenge, a survey said on Monday.

The survey by talent assessment company Mercer|Mettl found that more than 32 per cent of organizations lacked sufficient knowledge about the tools for conducting effective assessment methodologies across all the stages of the hiring process.

Lack of budget came a close second for nearly a quarter of the respondents (24 per cent), said the survey titled ‘Tech Hiring & Technology Adoption Trends 2019’.

“As everybody is onboarding the automation bandwagon, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain quality tech talent. This is mostly on account of inadequate knowledge regarding tech-driven best practices and widening demand-supply gap,” said Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, Mercer|Mettl.

Organizations, Tech, Talent
Nearly 42 per cent of organizations globally are struggling with sourcing quality tech talent globally, while 20 per cent cited the time taken to close a tech position as the primary challenge, a survey said on Monday. Pixabay

Moreover, 12 per cent of companies did not have a competency framework in place and nearly one-fifth (21 per cent) depended on face-to-face interviews to screen candidates.

Except for the 18 per cent of companies that leveraged smart AI-based technologies to filter resumes, the rest relied on lengthy ways for pre-screening the applications.

This not only caused the lead time to stretch unnecessarily but also lowered the success rate of the entire hiring process.

While evaluating candidates, proficiency in the required tech skills comprised the top criterion for 20 per cent of the organizations.

Also Read- Popular Kenyan Musician John Ng’ang’a aka John De’Mathew, Dies Through a Tragic Accident

On the other hand, 18 per cent of them tested the candidates with the view of up-skilling them as and when necessary. In this case, cognitive ability and learning agility formed the basis for evaluation.

Mercer|Mettl is currently partnering with over 2,000 global companies, 31 sector skill councils and more than 15 educational institutes across over 80 countries.

Mettl was acquired by Mercer in 2018, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth, and career. (IANS)