In the United States and throughout the world, screen time has become an integral part of our daily lives. From scrolling through TikTok to playing video games, many people spend hours per day on various digital activities. However, excessive engagement with digital devices can quickly become harmful, particularly for those struggling with problem gambling.
One way to mitigate these negative effects is to consider a “technology detox”: a deliberate period of time spent away from smartphones, computers, video game consoles, and other electronics. Let’s take a closer look at the intersection of problem gambling and technology — and how a tech detox might help you clear your mind!
A Double-Edged Sword
While technology has revolutionized the way we connect with others, work, and have fun, it can also negatively affect us in various ways. For instance, research has shown that excessive screen time can lead to poor sleep and exacerbate mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. This is especially true for people grappling with problem gambling.
Beyond the adverse physical effects of technology, what’s actually on the screen matters, too. You don’t need to be a professional gambler to notice that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become hotbeds for online gambling advertisements, constantly encouraging users to participate. Social media platforms can also serve as a gateway to online betting sites — with just one click, smartphone users can be transported from their social feed to a virtual casino or sports betting website (see also: What are touts?). This ease of access can be particularly detrimental to problem gamblers, as it fuels the cycle of excessive gambling.
Video games, while traditionally viewed as a harmless pastime, have also been implicated in problem gambling. Many popular games now include elements of gambling, such as loot boxes or in-game purchases, blurring the lines between gaming and betting. This convergence of video gaming and gambling can be particularly dangerous for younger individuals, who may not fully understand the risks involved.
The Power of a Tech Detox
A tech detox or digital detox refers to a period of time during which a person refrains from using tech devices like smartphones or computers. It’s an opportunity to reduce screen time, disconnect from social media and other digital platforms, and reconnect with the real world. For problem gamblers, a tech detox can provide the much-needed respite from the triggers and stressors associated with their situation.
Breaking the Cycle
A tech detox offers problem gamblers a chance to break free from the constant stimulation of online gambling by limiting smartphone use. It interrupts the cycle of impulsive gambling behavior and encourages reflection.
By consciously choosing to spend time away from digital devices, individuals with a gambling problem can regain a sense of control over their lives and redirect their focus towards healthier activities and relationships.
Improving Mental Health
Reducing screen time has been linked to improved mental health. A tech detox can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are often exacerbated by excessive smartphone use. Since poor mental health can worsen problem gambling, it’s a wise choice to limit digital stressors as much as possible.
Reconnecting with Family
Excessive screen time can strain relationships with family members. A tech detox provides an opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones, rebuilding connections that may have been negatively affected by problem gambling.
Removing the Association
Smartphone dependency and problem gambling are often closely linked. A tech detox can help individuals break the association between their mobile devices and gambling triggers, making it easier to resist the urge to gamble.
Try a Tech Detox Today!
In a world where our lives are increasingly intertwined with technology, taking a step back can have profound benefits. For those struggling with problem gambling, a tech detox can provide the space and clarity needed to navigate their situation effectively. It’s not about demonizing technology but instead learning to use it in a way that supports — rather than hinders — our well-being.
If you or someone you know is grappling with problem gambling, don’t hesitate to reach out to 800-GAMBLER today. Our toll-free, confidential helpline operates 24/7 and is dedicated to providing you with support and resources. Remember, it’s never too late to seek help and make positive changes!