Do you need a digital detox?

Do you need a digital detox?

Review: Are You Addicted to Technology?

A world-first interactive documentary is now on SBS On Demand that asks are you a slave to your phone or can you control it? Hosted by Dr Huu Kim Le this rather, confronting documentary actually lets you take three surveys within in the program that assesses how reliant you are on your phone.

During the pandemic, it’s not surprising that more people have spent more time on their phones – how else do you shop? Right?

The program begins by asking you to take the blue or red pill, just like The Matrix, and the red pill will indeed take you down the path to enlightenment. The program interviews a number of specialists in their respective fields about things like tactics that big tech use to compete for your attention, our wellbeing, and a longitudinal study that looks at the effects of phone use and dependence in teenagers.

Guiding you through the matrix of tech addiction and interviewing other experts is host Dr Le, a former gaming addict turned psychiatrist. Dr Le pulls back the curtain to reveal how and why these companies want you addicted to their products, as well as arming you with the knowledge and techniques to take back control.

“As a gamer, I have always been fascinated with virtual worlds. This fascination led me on a journey to becoming a psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist working on the front line, I see the psychological effects of internet technology on the brain everyday. The Internet is designed to be engaging, which can be fun for many, but also create misery for everyday families. It was a privilege to be part of this production with cutting-edge special effects, world-class experts and [that it was] filmed during the pandemic is a massive achievement,” says Dr Le of the program.

The results and information are fascinating and like The Social Dilemma before it, the program uses some unique studies done in Australia to walk us through our usage and how we are being used by big tech for their “attention economy”.

Some startling facts about just how much time is spent online on phones and what this is doing to a whole generation that has been bought up in the “attention economy” and also what educators are discovering about classroom habits of teenagers is alarming.

Chapter five of the program looks at the growing digital stress that has developed in relation to our devices and what this is doing to young people. It’s not just the time spent on devices, the devices themselves are impacting our bodies which has an effect on mental and physical wellbeing.

And did we mention it’s interactive? Throughout the program you will be asked to do three surveys and then even have the ability to ask Dr Le some questions about his field and what got him interested in it. It also gives you an overall score, helping you understand how you rate against other Australians. The more people that interact with this world-first documentary, the more data it will collect on our usage and how it affects wellbeing.

There are a number of helpful detox tips once you get through the interactive part of the documentary and while some of them seem like common sense, some can be quite challenging.

Commissioned by SBS and instigated by Joined Up and Closer Productions, the largest national survey of its kind was carried out by Dr Sharon Horwood, senior lecturer at Deakin University’s School of Psychology, to capture the extent of technology addiction in 2021. There are also a number of resources for teachers developed by Dr Horwood and avialable via SBS.

“What we do find with technology like smartphones and tablets is that they have the tendency to increase our absent-mindedness, reduce our ability to think and remember, to pay attention to things and regulate emotion,” Dr Horwood recently told The Guardian. “Most of us have our phones within arm’s reach. Even the possibility of a message or a call or something happening on social media is enough to divert our attention away from what we are doing.”

“The first thing is understanding how much you do rely on your phone and from there you can work out if you need to start reducing your reliance. It’s not a case of fate or destiny. The long-term consequences of screen use are what we make them.”

Ultimately, the program and associated research helps us begin to come to terms with our complex relationship with our phones and this is fundamental to our wellbeing.

Are You Addicted to Technology? Is now streaming on SBS On Demand (Available only on iOS, TVOS, and iPad)


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