Technophobia is an irrational or exaggerated fear of technology or complex devices such as tablets, smartphones, and especially computers. Although technophobia is not mentioned as a specific phobia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it is sometimes manifested in ways consistent with the diagnostic criteria in the manual.
What is Technophobia?
Technophobia is a somewhat generic term coined within the last 15 to 20 years used to describe the fear and aversion to modern technology. Technology has changed rapidly since computers became a normal household object and technology continues to rapidly shape everything from communication to education to the workforce. In some ways, advanced technological devices like smartphones, tablets, and personal computers are literally affecting the course of human evolution by allowing us to access to more information at higher speeds and giving us the capability to perform complex functions with apps and software.
As the gap widens between generations that have had varying access to different levels of advanced technology, the economy shifts to desire those with more technical skills, and the disparity increases between those who are comfortable with technology and those who are not, technology can arouse powerful emotions in some people such as panic, anxiety, terror, or dread.
Technophobia and Mental Health
Technology is difficult to keep up with because it changes so quickly—especially computing technology. Consider that approximately 20 years ago Zip Disk drives that allowed 100MB of storage were just being released, Netscape Communications Corporation was just releasing its web browser Netscape Navigator, and Yahoo! Inc. had just been founded. Fast forward to today and we have hard drives that can store terabytes of information, Netscape no longer exists, and Yahoo! has been long surpassed by Google in search engine technology. Juxtapose computer technology with television—a platform once considered the peak of technological advancement—and consider that it took more than 20 years just to broadcast programs in color.
People who feel left behind by technology or people who fear that technology—or perhaps their lack of understanding it—threatens their livelihood may experience conditions similar to the diagnostic criteria the DSM uses to categorize a phobia. These may include:
- A marked or consistent fear brought on by the presence or anticipation of technology or advanced technological devices.
- Exposure to technology or advanced technological devices arousing anxiety or leading to a panic attack.
- The person experiencing technophobia being completely aware that their fear is excessive.
- A person experiencing technophobia for more than six months.
- Avoiding technology or advanced devices.
Therapy for Technophobiacognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), have proven effective in treating conditions experienced as a result of technophobia. Additionally, people experiencing technophobia or struggling with feelings of inadequacy or anxiety because of technology are encouraged to reach out to a therapist. There may be underlying mental health issues contributing to anxiety or fear of technology and therapists are trained to identify and help people deal understand and overcome those issues.
- Pascarella, P. (1997). Spinning a web of technophobia. Management Review, 86(3), 42-43. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/206687318?accountid=1229
- Rosen, L. (2001). Technophobia: The psychological impact of information technology. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74, 249-250. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/199351322?accountid=1229
- Vogt, Peter. “Technophobia.” Credit Union Management4 (1996): 22. ProQuest. Web. 9 Dec. 2014.
Last Updated: 08-26-2015
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NoeleenJanuary 30th, 2020 at 5:12 PM
Along with the weird wish to eat only healthy foods, we elders are now considered mental patients because we’re not adapting at a pace that suits the youngsters. I hope I die before I get really old.
NoeleenJanuary 30th, 2020 at 5:21 PM
Have psychiatrists and their pharmaceutical partners yet invented a pill/remedy for this newly discovered disorder of “TECHNOPHOBIA “in elders?
Curious1February 26th, 2022 at 11:15 PM
This entire article resonates with me quite clearly actually. I have really high anxiety about anything new or foreign with technology, until I forced myself to sit down and become comfortable with it. That’s what I think this article is speaking to, the fact that this experience is legitimately common in older people like myself. So it’s validating the reality of the situation, while handing a common sense fix to the problem. I expose myself to the thing that gives me this anxiety reaction because I know this reaction is over the top for what is warranted. The more that I’ve become familiar with each new platform, piece of technology, a way of doing things, the less anxiety that I have. Slowly I am becoming more adept so that even new pieces of technology give me a lot less fear and anxiety than what they used to.
Thank you for this article. I think it was well thought out and put together.
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