Digital technology is incontestably a big leap-forward in the history of civilization and has revolutionized the style of living and the way of doing things.  But when it comes to personal life, it has to be used with moderation.  Excessive dependence on digital devices has a negative impact on the well-being of the user.
Psychiatrists are inviting medical authorities worldwide to formally recognize digital addiction as a psychiatric disorder.  They define digital addiction by symptoms like inability to control craving, anxiety when separated from a smart-phone, loss of productivity in studies or at work and the need to constantly check one’s phone.  Digital addicts find it difficult to leave the smart-phone even for a minute or have cravings to check it without any real purpose.  It becomes difficult to resist the mania of checking, for example, the football score at the dinner table or sharing a joke on Facebook with friends half the way across the world.  More and more people are becoming addicted to the real-time stream and, as such, they are losing the art of conversation and quiet reflection. In South Korea and China, the problem is growing so rapidly that the governments of these countries have declared digital addiction to be their number one public health threat.
Digital addiction can manifest in human behaviour through several symptoms.  People suffering from digital addiction spend more and more time online or on digital devices such as computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone than they ever realize.  They find themselves mindlessly spending time on a regular basis by starting their smart-phones, tablets or computers even when there might be better or more productive things to do.  They lose track of time when they are absorbed on any of these devices.  They spend more time with “virtual friends” as opposed to real people nearby.  They sleep with their smart-phone by leaving it permanently switched “on” under their pillows or next to their beds.  They cannot stop themselves in viewing and answering texts, tweets and emails at all hours of the day and night – even when it means interrupting other things they are doing or distracting concentration and focused attention while driving.  They feel somewhat ill-at-ease when they accidentally leave their digital devices at home.
Digital addiction accentuates behavioural disorder because there is tendency to be inclined to screen-mediated social interactions over face-to-face socialization.  Studies have revealed that too much time spent in front of the screen can lead to depression due to lack of energetic exchange, known as limbic resonance, that naturally happens when people meet face-to-face.  The online experience does not stimulate limbic resonance.  Digital addiction leads many people to use the Internet to connect with others even in circumstances where face-to-face interactions would have been possible.  In face-to-face interaction, the possibility to see, hear, smell and touch one another releases the multisensory stimulation that helps to experience limbic resonance.  Digital outlets often provide an escape to those who do not have the guts to face the real world with emotions and intimacy.
Digital addiction provokes physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, migraines, eye-strains and carpal tunnel syndrome.  More and more people are now suffering from “text neck” or “iNeck” pain.  They have their heads lowered and buried to the mobile devices constantly while queuing or crossing the road, thus leading to neck pain.
Parenting experts advise that a child under the age of 7 should not be allowed access to computer or video games.  This delay gives the child adequate initiation period to bond with caregivers, develop social relationships with others and to fully engage with the world and develop the physical and psychological skills needed to succeed in the real world.  Allowing a child at tender age to be captivated by digital screen can interrupt the natural development and set the stage for digital addiction.  If ever a child is given a digital toy, the parents must ensure that is not linked to Internet, and that the game or programme contained in it must be played with participation of another person and never alone.  This compels the child to interact and socialize with the family members instead of reclusing in loneliness.
The problem of digital addiction is becoming so acute that it is necessary to set up internationally recognized centres for the treatment of digital-addicts.  Such centres or clinics must provide counseling, family therapy and parent-training by using evidenced-based approaches.  In 2014, the first congress on Internet Addiction Disorders was held in Milan.  Korea is the first country to have established a comprehensive national prevention and re-education programme for digital addictions.  China and Japan utilize inpatient care with fasting camps where internet is interdicted for some hours or days during the treatment period.  While France uses early education as prevention to technology addiction, Australia, Italy and the US have started their inpatient centres and internet addiction treatment clinics.  Mauritius has not yet established such care centers.
Becoming overly dependent or attached to digital devices is definitely bad usage habits that can greatly affect the health and lifestyle.  There is an urgent need to break free from the unhealthy digital lifestyle.  A mechanism must be designed to automatically track the total number of hours per day spent by the user on the digital device and trigger the alert when he/she is going overboard on the digital highway.  As digital use is intricately linked to personal behavior, it is voluntary self-restraint that can help to mitigate the bouts of digital excess.  However, in few instances where there is a threat to public safety or disturbance of social decorum, the relevance of police or enforcing agents becomes necessary to control the behavior of digital users, for example, when driving or pedestrian-crossing or attending court/parliamentary sessions.  There is also the peer-pressure convention which interdicts the use of digital devices during religious ceremony or in the precincts of religious places.  Until a code of conduct is developed for digital users, proper counseling and digital treatment centers will have a greater role in addressing this technology-related health problem.