27 Nov Sensory Addiction and Its Connection to ADD
Sensory addiction is an inability to cope with slowness. The addict is constantly in need of new stimuli and becomes quite unsettled until that new stimuli is found. This leads to a shortened attention span and an, “inability to cope with slow down [which] has, in consequence, the destructive effect of keeping us from engaging in important but unstimulating activities, such as paying attention to classroom instruction, [and] reading books…” (DeGrandpre 32). DeGrandpre argues that sensory addiction is a result of our increasingly fast paced lives or our rapid-fire culture. We have developed a “need for speed” in this country especially. It seems that everyone is in a rush in America. This is easy to see when you travel to the Carribean where things go at a comparatively – sometimes painfully – slow pace.
Some people deal with ADD and ADHD with drugs like stimulants. However, there are causes and conditions that may contribute to the development of attention problems. In addition, stimulant medications can have harmful side effects. Perhaps we can seek to understand what is causing the attention deficit in an attempt to work with it without medications. To learn more about stimulant drugs and their dangers, we encourage you to check out Addiction Rehab Blog’s page Adderall Withdrawal, Crash, and Addiction.
With technology we expect progress and we define progress as making our tasks easier and quicker. Cell-phones, drive-thrus, microwaves, and e-mail all speed up our lives. However, these devices just raise our expectations and we begin to expect ever increasing speed and convience. This only serves to frustrate us when our expectations are not met. We are now at the point where we cannot deal with a slowdown. If the internet goes down on campus students start to freak out and get angry with the school. When we are in line at a drive-thru we get frustrated if the car in front of us sits at the window for 5 minutes. It seems silly that we cannot deal with temporary delays and inconveniences without getting frustrated and antsy. Computers are a prime example of our “need for speed”. In 1981 the average speed of a computer was 4.77 megahertz, by 1996 the Pentium computer was sped up to 100 MHz. Today we have computers that are up to 800 MHz, over 160 times as fast as the earliest computer, yet we are not satisfied. People get visibly frustrated if it takes a web page more than a few seconds to load up. Whereas I can remember a time in my own childhood where it would take the better part of a minute for a page to load. We didn’t have any problem waiting back then, but our growing expectations of computers has shortened our patience.
Sensory addiction is more acute in children because they have grown up in our rapid-fire culture their whole lives. For example my father never gets frustrated with the speed of computers, in fact we had the same computer at home for 6 years. This is because he didn’t grow up with that technology and he has no expectation of speed. Because I grew up during the 1980s and 90s the fast-paced lifestyle made an impression on me – it was the norm. If you attached heart monitors to my father and I and put us in front of slow computers and asked us to complete a task on them I am positive I would show a lot more stress (i.e. increased heart rate). Many adults went through maturity in the 1950s and 60s and they by and large avoided the problem of sensory addiction. While lifestyles were certainly speeding up then, it is nothing like the changing pace of today’s life. The brain and personality develop in childhood and those children who grow up in fast paced lifestyles are affected by it. Adults have already developed their personalities (and their expectations) and are not as impressionable as children.
Sensory addiction and the ever increasing amount of ADD kids is a cultural phenomenon. There is no medical explanation for the increase of ADD cases. Human brain function has not changed much in centuries, it is our culture and adaption to it that has changed. The rise of ADD is a direct result of our rapid-fire culture. We are constantly rushing to do things which has a negative affect on our children. The Amish provide a stark contrast to our way of life, they reject technology and value tradition, hard work and community. This is why, “they… avoid childhood problems like inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and aggression by incorporating children into the center of community life, rather than ushering them off to the margins, where technology takes care of them” (DeGrandpre 223). DeGrandpre talks of an emerging “culture of neglect” as parents feel the need to work more often and have less time for their families. This leaves kids to themselves “where technology takes care of them”. Television, video games, and the internet have all stepped in to fill the somewhat vacant role of parents. Often parents encourage their children to watch tv or play video games just to get them out of their hair. These rapid-fire technologies exacerbate the problem of sensory addiction.
Quick and visually stimulating technologies make kids more impatient with slow activities like reading because a book can’t offer the same level of stimulation. However, “as we’ve seen with the history of television and video games, plugged-in sources of stimulation that are awe-inspiring at one time quickly become outdated and boring later on” (DeGrandpre 206). These technologies have to constantly reinvent themselves and become more exciting and interactive to meet the demands of sensory addiction. There are two factors that are necessary for increasing sensory addiction, “first culturally, there must be the underlying pyschological urge to do more and to go faster…second, technologically, we have to develop the capacity to keep this inflationary practice going..” (DeGrandpre 206). Both of these factors are satisfied in the America. The culture of neglect and the ever increasing needs of sensory addiction have led to an increase of ADD symptoms and the resulting quick-fix, Ritalin.