The irrational and intense fear of technology is known as Technophobia. It can also mean that you have a dislike toward complex devices or advanced technology, particularly computers.
Let us dig deep into the details and check out what it is all about along with its symptoms, causes, treatment options, etc.
What is Technophobia?
Technophobia is the irrational fear of technology, carrying a lot of intensity with it. People suffering from this problem tend to avoid the use of computers, laptops, and mobile phones at all costs.
Do you always hesitate while using your child’s smartphone? Is it normal for you to wonder about how you should operate a computer without anyone’s guidance? If you have answered yes to these two questions, you may be the only one facing these problems.
These individuals always feel as if they will not manage to operate them properly or will lose control over them, causing severe damage.
Several people find it extremely difficult to handle technology. Due to this reason, gadgets instill fear in them. When some people take this irrational fear to an extreme level, it means they are suffering from the problem of Technophobia.
In this respect, an American fears technology more than anyone else in the world. More than half the population of America suffers from technophobia to some extent. They also fear losing their jobs because of increasing reliance on computers to do everyday tasks.
There are some societal groups, which tend to be technophobic. The most recognizable one out of these are the 19th century British Luddites. They had totally avoided new technologies, which went on to impact the structure of all their established trades.
This specific phobia does not carry an official tag of mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Still, it is an extreme fear of technology with no rationale behind it. This has connections with the irrational fear of computers, artificial intelligence, robotics and weapons.
The symptoms of technophobia meet the specifics of specific phobias and your doctor might treat you in exact ways like that of a specific phobia patient.
The fear is real and the sufferer goes through intense anxious moments. They will think about the adverse impact of technology in their daily lives.
Research reports confirm that technophobia is a clinical disorder associated with digital technologies.
Anxiety is the main symptom that one experiences with technophobia. It is because people find themselves suffering from the fear of technology daily. Whatever gadget or any electronic item they come across; fear grips their mind.
The level of their anxiety tends to be quite intrusive. Due to this reason, they can even experience a full-fledged panic attack.
This phenomenon will not happen as and when they experience anxiety from technophobia. Still, panic attacks are a common occurrence among people suffering from phobias.
Technology is a broad term and defines itself as the application of scientific knowledge for serving practical purposes, particularly in industry.
One can interpret it as anything, right from a high-level server used for running thousands of businesses across the world to a simple pencil that allows children in the 1st grade to learn to write details about themselves.
Symptoms and the risks associated with them can vary from person to person as per their genetic makeup. These symptoms can be both physical and psychological.
Let us discuss them in brief –
The fear of technology can become so intense that it can give rise to physical symptoms, showing further complications. These symptoms can interfere with their smooth running of daily activities.
They are as follows –
When the fear of technology takes over your whole system, you can have problems breathing freely. In other words, you suffer from shortness of breath and it happens when there is an intense tightening of the chest.
It makes you feel as if your throat is choking, thus, you can suffer from suffocation and breathing uneasiness.
This situation would demand that you either use a puff or a nebulizer to get instant relief from this discomfort.
Just like any other phobia, technophobia also does not allow you to sleep peacefully at night. As a result of this, you might feel lethargic and drowsy throughout the day.
You may struggle to carry out your duties. Hence it hinders the free flow of work to a great extent.
Doing meditation regularly can help you get rid of this problem to a great extent. Otherwise, drowsiness can give rise to further complications in the form of forgetfulness and falling asleep during inappropriate situations.
3. Heart Palpitations
This abnormal fear can become so intense that it can lead to heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat.
Under this situation, the heart might struggle to pump sufficient blood and distribute it to the rest of the body.
The increase in one’s heart rate does not let organs and tissues receive enough oxygen. It can severely damage your brain or heart.
Another classic symptom of a person suffering from technophobia, or for that matter, any phobia is that he or she will often start trembling.
Adrenaline tends to work directly on receptor cells in your muscles to fasten the contraction rate of the fibers, set for fighting.
Thus, high adrenaline levels can lead to the uncontrollable twitching of muscles, hence making people shake.
Nausea is a common symptom among all those who suffer from this phobia. It results from the irrational fear and anxiety associated with this problem.
Anxiety is a natural response to any threat. It occurs when your brain releases neurotransmitters to get your body ready for showing resistance.
Some of these transmitters can get inside the digestive tract, irritating the gut microbiome. This results in numerous stomach symptoms, causing nausea.
It will make you avoid certain food items as you would always feel the urge to vomit.
6. Muscle Tension
People who have a panic disorder from technophobia can often face the problem of muscle tension.
If you are one of them, you can see that your muscles become tense at the time of a panic attack. It could even make you suffer from stiffness right through the body, long after the intensity of the attack has come down.
You can implement certain techniques of relaxation to effectively manage the problems of muscle pain and irritation.
You can also come across certain psychological symptoms of Technophobia diversely. They can have a severe impact on your thought process and make you think hard about events, which may not have any connection with reality.
Let us now discuss some of the psychological symptoms and see how they impact your daily life –
1. Apathy toward Getting New Gadgets
People with the problem of technophobia would avoid getting hold of any new electronic gadget for themselves. They will have weird thoughts occupying their mind, along with an unknown fear.
The fear is usually of whether they will manage to operate them properly, as they are not up-to-date with the latest trends and technological advances.
Moreover, they feel that if there is a sudden software upgrade, how will they manage to cope with the advanced features?
2. Loss of Control
Another prominent psychological symptom of technophobia is that the sufferer would feel as if he or she is losing control over different aspects of life.
Nowadays, different forms of technology play a very important role in different spheres of life. Particularly, while working in offices, someone might not be well versed in the use of a computer or laptop. Things will become extremely difficult for that individual to carry out his responsibilities.
Moreover, he needs to be smart enough to adapt himself to the changing trends in the world of technology.
Unfortunately, technophobia will not allow you to do all these. Rather, when you have to perform any task on a laptop or if you have to withdraw cash from the ATM, you would feel that you have lost complete control over the proceedings.
3. Feel Detached from Reality
Your apathy toward using technology would make you feel isolated from society. You will think twice before engaging into conversations with people using highly advanced smartphones and tablets.
Nowadays, the world is rapidly moving on the path of getting digitized in almost all respects. Right from paying your bills, ordering food, and making reservations for a flight or train to booking a cab, you can do everything with the click of a few buttons. All these happen because of technology.
When you suffer from Technophobia, it is quite evident that you will stay away from doing all these and try to follow conventional methods. They are invariably far more time-consuming and involve a lot of stress.
Thus, you will start feeling as if your life is not at all in tune with the reality of life. You would require putting in far more effort to get rid of this fear and embrace various modes of technology, hence making life easier.
4. Lack of Clarity While Thinking and Speaking
All those who suffer from technophobia can become so preoccupied with the fear of using new technologies that they struggle to think and speak clearly.
The level of anxiousness is such that you will find it extremely difficult to concentrate on a particular matter and speak on it with complete authority.
No matter what work you wish to carry out, your mind will keep wavering with preoccupied thoughts of technologies you come across in your daily lives.
Technophobia or the fear of technology does not occur for a single reason. A variety of factors combine and play a significant role in instilling fear in the minds of individuals.
Whenever major changes take place in how we execute different activities, especially those involving machines, there is always a likelihood that technophobia will occur.
Following are some of the factors that lead to this problem:
1. Socio-Cultural Factors
When people use something frequently, they will automatically become a lot more comfortable and confident in its usage. Nothing will seem complicated to them.
Teenagers and young adults usually become the first set of people to accept new products and become experts in using them effectively.
Adults tend to be a lot slower in adopting new technologies, while older adults might never embrace them. Hence, this attitude rubs off on people of the same age group.
2. Doomsday Theories
Another alarming cause behind the fear of technology is a doomsday theory in which technology plays a massive role.
Starting from the sentient robots that are hell-bent on destruction to missiles launching themselves to start WW-III, films, TV shows, and literature, all showing the misuse of technology makes a negative impact on people’s minds.
These portrayals of the modern ‘End of the World’ theories through the use of advanced technologies are sufficient to make you averse to them.
3. Global Hysteria
Remember the Y2K scare? It is one of the prime examples of how global hysteria severely added to the fear of technology.
As the rumor went around, government agencies, financial institutions, and society at large knew it was going to shut down the moment we would step into the new millennium.
Computer designers had forgotten to program the systems for handling four-digit dates. The theory among people was that the two-digit 00-year would cause all the networks to crash.
Fortunately, on 1st January 2000, no untoward incident took place. Most of the major systems were quite capable of handling four-digit dates. Ones that didn’t were reprogrammed properly before the important date.
Still, the initial fear of technology crashes had completely taken over people’s minds. It had unnecessarily made them spend sleepless nights.
Impact of technophobia
The impact of technophobia can be really bad in a person’s life. Let’s understand how it influences their mental health in negative ways:
- Avoidance response while encountering a complex electronic device such as laptop, desktops, smart phones, tablets, etc.
- The fear induces physical discomfort and intense anxiety
- Short attention span as the fear seems to be all consuming in the person’s life
- It impacts the lives of old generation people because they are scared that they might damage the costly device through improper use.
- Reluctance to touch or come closer to the device
- Social isolation
- Feelings of guilt and embarrassment
- Fear of being judged by others
- Loss of cultural identity
- Social disintegration
We have discussed earlier that technophobia is nothing but the intense fear of advanced technology or complex devices, particularly computers and mobile phones.
Let us check out some other examples of technophobia below –
1. You can be fearful of using a smartphone as you are not sure about its different in-built applications and make the best use of them. There is an unknown fear, which makes you feel as if your usage would result in software problems.
The fear of your peers ridiculing you for not being able to make proper use of a smartphone also plays a part in building your fear.
2. A person with technophobia might avoid the use of computers. He will also prefer not to learn more about some technologies, which make work-life easier for people nowadays. For instance, Skype is an effective way to hold online meetings in organizations.
Hence, if an individual is not aware of the same or does not have the knowledge about how to make video calls as well as send files over the platform, he would prefer to stay away from the computer for as long as possible.
3. Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP is excellent software that organizations use for managing various business activities. They include, project management, procurement, accounting, risk management, and compliance as well as the operations of supply chain management.
Now, if you are not aware of this software and its uses, then the company can suffer heavy losses. Moreover, manual work would make it lose precious time as well. Despite these things, you might refrain from learning about the use of this software as you feel it involves numerous complications.
4. An individual who suffers from this fear of technology can even struggle to deal with projectors in the workplace. He would always feel that something might go wrong like the screen could go blank while giving a presentation and others might make his mockery.
This is a classic case in which he or she could avoid looking into the details of this technology for fear of hampering the whole purpose of the presentation and hence become a source of laughter for others.
5. Someone might even avoid using a tablet or a laptop. This is because he feels that it might fall and break apart. Probably, he had dropped something in his childhood, which had led to a tool becoming inoperative.
Hence, the memory of his childhood plays a big role in his staying away from the use of these electronic gadgets. He also fears if anything goes awry due to pressing some buttons.
If you are suffering from the problem of technophobia and the symptoms seem to interfere with your ability to carry out different responsibilities of daily life, then you should immediately reach out to your doctor.
There are treatments available, which can lower the feelings of anxiety or fear. Following are some of the treatment options that your doctor could suggest:
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a psycho-social intervention to improve a person’s mental health. Health experts often use this modality to treat individuals suffering from anxiety disorders like OCD and generalized anxiety disorder.
An individual who suffers from technophobia could also benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It will allow them to develop a much greater level of understanding as to why they think and conduct themselves in the manner in which they do in connection to their irrational fears.
This greatly helps people with technophobia given the automatic nature of its symptoms. For instance, when a person with technophobia exposes himself to his fear, they will always have an instant subconscious response to their fear.
This lack of analysis is the main reason someone with this condition will suffer the way they will. CBT can allow you to take one step back and conduct a thorough analysis of the fears than you would normally ever do.
If you engage yourself in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, you can even expect to learn different skills, which will help you in getting rid of the anxiety.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
MBSR happens to be an evidence-based program for 8 weeks. It offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to assist people in tackling their problems from stress, anxiety, depression, and other types of mental agony.
This program can target people suffering from technophobia, as mindfulness meditation does wonders to anxious people.
In this structured program, a person with technophobia can hope to learn a wide variety of skills. Those skills can help them get relief from the anxiety that is linked with this particular phobia.
If you make up your mind to undertake this Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, then immediately talk to your therapist to check if MBSR can indeed help you in lowering the intensity of your technophobia symptoms.
Exposure therapy is another common method that health experts or therapists implement for treating patients suffering from Technophobia.
It involves desensitizing patients to their fear of technology. The therapist should be particularly adept in doing so. It is so because if he exposes a person with technophobia to their fear, the therapy may not work out.
They would require a greater level of exposure to trigger some sort of credible change among patients.
Hence, the therapist who wants to implement this therapy to attain the best results should possess a strong sense of the severity of the patient’s symptoms. It will allow him to know the extent of exposure, which patients will feel comfortable handling.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a way to treat people struggling with emotion regulation. It also helps to treat individuals suffering a borderline personality disorder.
DBT can also help people recover from an anxiety disorder like technophobia. It is because of the several coping skills you can learn in a Dialectical Behavior Therapy group.
This therapy group lasts for 6 months and can have two to several people, depending on how many become its members.
One highly effective DBT skill for assisting someone who suffers from technophobia is half-smiling.
The technique makes you think about your fear of technology while slightly lifting the corners of your mouth through a wry smile. Hence the term, “half-smiling” came into existence.
You also need to avoid entertaining those difficult emotions that your technophobia might evoke.
There are several forms of meditation, which are extremely beneficial for those suffering from technophobia. One should specifically focus on mindfulness meditation which helps people get into a greater equanimous state.
It helps to distract the patients’ attention from their fear of technology by making them re-focus on some other thing that does carry any emotional burden. They can focus on how they breathe. This happens to be one of the most basic methods through which people can meditate and stay in the present.
For a person who is suffering from technophobia in the middle of a panic attack, it is important to redirect his attention to the different sensations that he feels while breathing.
It can help reduce the level of mental agony that he experiences at the time of experiencing fear and anxiety.
So, what else can you do other than paying attention to breathing? You can even concentrate on the sounds in your environment, how your skin feels while touching some objects, how the food items taste, and also the smell of aromas.
Honing these five senses dramatically helps you reduce some level of anxiety associated with the problem of technophobia.
Exercise tends to have a great impact on those people who suffer from anxiety disorders, which include technophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular disease can greatly help to relieve one’s tension and stress.
It is not that weight-resistance training would not help people with anxiety. Still, aerobic exercise has always been more effective in releasing the good chemicals, known as endorphins inside the brain.
As per the American Psychological Association, exercise can help condition the mind to better deal with stressful circumstances. This makes a lot of sense when we consider the high level of stress that the body goes through during strenuous exercise.
Hence, if you are in a sedentary state, engaging yourself in some kind of aerobic exercise might drastically help to lower the symptoms of technophobia. It does so by making things easier for you to cope with the stress and anxiety linked with this condition.
There are several poses in Yoga, which can positively impact someone with Technophobia. Yoga emits a meditative state of mind among all those who practice it regularly.
It is a meditation in motion and can offer relief from the anxiety connected with technophobia. This occurs because of the mere fact that when you engage yourself in Yoga, you will focus your mind on doing something far more productive.
A particular type of yoga that helps someone suffering from technophobia is hot yoga or hatha yoga.
Are you someone who has never practiced yoga earlier in your life? Then, it would be ideal for you to attend a class, or you can even go through some online videos that can help you with different poses.
Apart from relieving the symptoms of technophobia, they can help increase your strength and flexibility to a great extent.
How to overcome Technophobia? (Self-help Strategies)
Technological tools are part and parcel of our daily lives. Hence, having the problem of technophobia can make it extremely difficult to indulge in day-to-day activities.
They include banking, accessing health information on the internet, and also in communicating with friends and family members over video calls.
Research studies denote that technophobia can have a severe effect on the health and lives of older individuals. It is because digital skills have become an increasingly essential part of daily life.
Irrespective of whether you are suffering from the fear of technology or simply feeling somewhat out of sorts when it is about using different technological tools, there are some steps you can take to cope better, gradually overcome technophobia and start feeling comfortable.
They are as follows –
1. Seek for Help
There are occasions when you have a trustworthy person by your side that helps you to make decisions from time to time and guides you through difficult moments.
Reach out to that individual with your concerns regarding technology and how to use different forms in the best possible manner. Discussing with them can make technology look less intimidating to you.
Their support can help you cope better, reduce stress, and increase your engagement with technology.
Older adults should ideally reach out to younger family members and get appropriate answers to their queries.
2. Attend a Class
Do you feel the fear of technology stems from a lack of knowledge and work experience? You can consider signing up for an online class that focuses on the basics of using different technological tools.
These classes have their complete focus on making adults learn the basics of operating computers or even make them learn how to deal with the different computer software.
You can go through the lessons, read some study materials and engage yourself in the practical usage of technologies. These things can give you the much-needed confidence.
3. Fix Goals
Set a goal to learn the tricks of using new technology, but ensure that you focus on one thing at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed.
For instance, you can gain numerous benefits from understanding how to operate a computer. Following this, you can focus on using a browser for viewing different websites.
Once you have attained expertise with the computer, you can shift your focus on how to use a cell phone and learn its operation accordingly.
When you attain the requisite confidence in knowing the basics of operating a particular technology, move over to the next one.
As you gradually develop your skill and confidence, your fear of using new technologies will subside. Your urge to know further about a technological tool would grow.
Summing Up from “ThePleasantMind”
Technophobia comes up as a risk factor for all those who are not digitally sound and thus develop the fear of handling new technologies. The technological advancement is resulting in the further growth of this problem.
We have discussed several aspects of this phobia, including symptoms, causes, treatment options, and some of the strategies you can adopt in your life. Following the details would hopefully help individuals find some ways to identify and get rid of this problem.
A Psychologist with a master's degree in Psychology, a former school psychologist, and a teacher by profession Chandrani loves to live life simply and happily. She is an avid reader and a keen observer. Writing has always been a passion for her, since her school days. It helps to de-stress and keeps her mentally agile. Pursuing a career in writing was a chance occurrence when she started to pen down her thoughts and experiences for a few childcare and parenting websites. Her lovable niche includes mental health, parenting, childcare, and self-improvement. She is here to share her thoughts and experiences and enrich the lives of few if not many.