Technophobia (Fear of Technology)
Technophobia is the irrational fear of technology. Someone suffering from this condition can expect to find themselves extremely fearful of computers, artificial intelligence (A.I.), or any other software or hardware that they deem to be advanced. Technophobia is different from mechanophobia as the former is more of broad fear of technology in general, while the latter is an even more specific fear of machines only.
In some extreme cases, someone’s technophobia may be so intrusive and extreme that they may experience full blown panic attacks which could result in them being hospitalized, depending on the severity of their anxiety. In such a situation, they can expect their heart rate to increase, their rate of breathing to increase, perspiration, shakiness, and muscle tension, among other things.
Technophobia can be a very debilitating condition seeing as how in the 21st century the tech industry is booming and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon. This is terrible news for people suffering from full blown technophobia. Avoidance is a very common behavior among those suffering from phobias. However, this may not be practical given the widespread abundance of technology which seems to influence nearly every culture worldwide.
Though it may seem impossible for someone with technophobia to truly avoid being near technology, some people with this condition may still decide to move to a very rural area where technology is sparse. Nevertheless, though such a decision may seem productive at face value, the effects of doing so can be quite pernicious given the fact that by actively avoiding their fear of technology they are also simultaneously reinforcing it.
Symptoms of Technophobia
Anxiety will be the main symptom experienced with technophobia as they will find themselves being very fearful of technology on a near day to day basis. As previously mentioned, their anxiety may also be so intrusive that they may even experience a full blown panic attack as a result of it. Though such a phenomenon will not occur every time they experience anxiety from their technophobia, panic attacks are still quite common among people suffering from phobias.
The term technology itself is a very broad term and is defined as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry. This can be interpreted to mean virtually anything, from an advanced server used to run thousands of businesses worldwide to a pencil used to help 1st graders learn to write their names. Such nuance lends those suffering from technophobia to have many different symptoms insofar as it relates to their specific fears.
Depending on the individual’s genetic makeup, it may also not be uncommon for someone with technophobia to develop additional anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, the risk for this will vary greatly from person to person.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of technophobia:
Anxiety when thinking of technology
Anxiety when seeing technology
Unable to cope with their anxiety
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Technophobia
There are no known causes of technophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment are likely to play significant roles. For example, if someone has a family history of mental illness, especially of phobias, then they may also have a higher chance of developing technophobia. This likely has to do with them also having a higher chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness in general.
If someone were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only require them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown technophobia. Essentially, any very damaging event that someone experienced which involved technology in some capacity may be enough for someone to develop technophobia (e.g. losing a limb while working with machinery).
Though we do not know the exact reason as to why someone may develop technophobia, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment play very significant roles. So, taking a closer look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing technophobia.
Technophobia Treatments (abridged)
Exposure therapy may be very effective at helping to treat many of the symptoms of technophobia. Exposure therapy works by having the patient be exposed to that which they fear over a given period of time. Though the patient can expect to experience a great deal of anxiety during such exposure, it will also help the patient to become desensitized to their fear as well.
Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to something they fear, the less it will bother them over time. This philosophy is kept in mind during exposure therapy. However, though this may be true in many instances, if a patient is exposed to too much too soon, then it can have a counterproductive effect and may overwhelm the patient, leaving their condition worse than it was at the start of treatment. So, it is very important that this form of therapy be implemented by an adept and experienced therapist.
Anti-anxiety medication may also be effective at helping to reduce some of the symptoms of technophobia. However, this is something that should first be discussed with your doctor. Though taking anti-anxiety medication can be very effective, taking it without simultaneously being involved in some sort of therapy may not be a very good idea for long term treatment as medication alone will not teach the patient the skills needed to cope with their condition in various situations.
If you think you may have technophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Upon doing so, your doctor may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist for further treatment. If you have questions about any symptoms you have been experiencing, it is in your best interest to write them down beforehand this way when you see your doctor you can be readily prepared to have some of your concerns resolved.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Technophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with technophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with technophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with technophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with technophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Technophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from technophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with technophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of technophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Technophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from technophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from technophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with technophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of technophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with technophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Technophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as technophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with technophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with technophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their technophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with technophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Exercise for Technophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including technophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of technophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of technophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with technophobia over time.
Yoga for Technophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from technophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with technophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with technophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with technophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of technophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Technophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with technophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with technophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Technophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like technophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with technophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with technophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with technophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your technophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Technophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe technophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their technophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as technophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of technophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of technophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.