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Sunday August 19th 2018

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Q&A with author of “iDisorder” Dr. Larry Rosen

Dr. Larry Rosen is Professor and Past Chair of the Psychology Department at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is a research psychologist, computer educator, keynote speaker, and as a testimony of his decades of research conducted on the subject matter, is recognized as an international expert in the “Psychology of Technology.”

Rosen has authored numerous articles, and written several books exploring relationships with technology, including his latest book, “iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us.”

This “iDisorder” condition is defined as “changes to your brain’s ability to process information and your ability to relate to the world due to your daily use of media and technology resulting in signs and symptoms of psychological disorders—such as stress, sleeplessness, and a compulsive need to check in with all of your technology.”
The IN conducted an email Q&A with Rosen while he was traveling out West in “Big Sky Country,” with his daughter—ironically enough, with sporadic cellular and Internet reception resulting in limited connectivity to the rest of the technology-bound world.

IN: What was the intent of writing your latest book, “iDisorder?” How does this differ from your previous works/technology assessments?
ROSEN: I have always been pro-technology, but between writing “Rewired” and “iDisorder” I saw a monumental change with technology. In particular, our research showed that young people are checking in with their technology every 15 minutes or less and also awakening at night to texts or other alerts. It has become important to the younger generations—and older ones too, as I fall into the same trap often—to stay in touch and not be out of contact for even a few minutes.

IN: Do you consider it nearly impossible in the information age we live in, to not be struck with some degree of “iDisorder?” Are our brains being in essence “rewired?”
ROSEN: I would not argue that our brains are “rewired” but I would say that our interactions with technology are influencing the way our brains function. I am particularly interested in how our obsession with technology affects the neurotransmitters in our brains. For example, we appear to react almost as though we are Pavlov’s dogs and constantly check our technology regardless of whether there’s a reason to do so. I experienced an example of that today. Where we are in Wyoming there is rare, if any, access to WIFI, 3g or 4g. We took a drive five miles up Signal Mountain and at the top (about 8,000 feet above sea level) there was a cell tower. There were at least 10 cars in the parking lot and everyone was talking on the phone and ignoring the amazing vistas.

IN: Facebook depression, phantom phone buzzing in pockets—are these just myths or isolated cases? Are people quick to own up to these sorts of “ailments?”
ROSEN: They are very real, and people sheepishly own up to them.

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