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Over the past two decades or so, industries have sprung up to treat ‘addictions’ to everything from excessive eating or sex to video games. And colloquially, use of the word ‘addictive’ seems to have reached a peak, used in headlines and casual conversations to describe everything from Nutella to the latest streaming series. In this short video from BBC Ideas, Andrew Przybylski, a professor of experimental psychology at the Oxford Internet Institute, examines the phrase ‘technology addiction’, offering a brief history of the term, and ultimately arguing that, unlike research on addictions to gambling, drugs or alcohol, the research on technology addictions is inconclusive. For Przybylski, it’s more than a matter of semantics: given the lack of conclusive research, new ‘addiction’ treatment markets have become fertile ground for opportunists looking to make a quick buck. Also, like conflating sadness with clinical depression, pairing ‘tech addiction’ with medically proven conditions risks minimising very serious brain disorders.
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