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Beyond the rhetoric of tech addiction: why we should be discussing tech habits instead (and how)

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In the past few years, we have become increasingly focused on technology use that is impulsive, unthinking, and distractive. There has been a strong push to understand such technology use in terms of dopamine addiction. The present article demonstrates the limitations of this so-called neurobehaviorist approach: Not only is it inconsistent in regard to how it understands humans, technologies, and their mutual relationship, it also pathologizes everyday human behaviors. The article proceeds to discuss dual-systems theory, which helpfully discusses impulsive technology use in terms of habit instead of addiction, but can be criticized for its mentalist celebration of conscious control. Finally, the article introduces a phenomenological approach whose conceptualization of habit manifests many of the experiential qualities that we try to capture with addiction, but remains non-pathologizing and opens a space for learning: While tech addiction is bad and must be eliminated, good tech habits can be trained and cultivated.

TidsskriftPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Antal sider14
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

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