The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
Technology can seem scary for someone who isn’t used to it, and paranoia about technology becomes increasingly more common as more inventions come out. For some, something that we may think is simple, like internet network connectivity problems, may feel like a personal attack or an extreme stressor.
Although this is not an age-related problem, many people who are older who lived in times when technology was not as utilized in the way it is now may struggle with paranoia or fear about the new technology that they have become exposed to.
If you experience technology-related paranoia or know someone who does, here are some tips on lessening the fears and getting help.
What Is Technology-Related Paranoia?
Paranoia is a mental health symptom that often comes with many common mental health conditions like anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Examples of paranoia include believing that you are being followed, believing that your mother isn’t your real mom, or even believing that a microwave could kill you if you’re too close to it.
Often, paranoia has a basis in delusions, which are thoughts or beliefs that don’t have a basis in reality or aren’t true. That’s why it can be difficult to understand when you’re struggling with paranoia or delusions.
Common technology-related paranoia can include:
- Feeling that 5G technology is going to hurt you or give you cancer
- Believing that the FBI is recording you from your computer webcam
- Feeling that someone is going to hack into your computer to track you
- Believing that you are being cyberstalked through the air
- Believing that chemicals are coming from your microwave or technological devices that will hurt you or make you sick
- Believing that using a certain account online will cause your identity to be stolen
Although online identity theft, stalking, and hacking do exist, paranoia often takes these fears to the next level. The actual occurrence of these things is fairly rare, considering over 6 billion people use the internet each day.
How to Get Help
If you’re struggling with paranoia or general fears related to the internet, technology, or the devices you own, it’s a good idea to look for help. We’ve outlined some of the best ways to get help for this issue below.
Start With Easy Tech
If your paranoia or fear comes from a place of not understanding how technology works or not trusting it, there are many brands that have marketed toward this. You can find cellphones with large screens and simple apps for those in an older generation, for example.
You might also want to start with a simple computer like a Chromebook, which has certain apps already installed, or an iPad that someone in your family can customize for you to be easy to use.
Don’t overwhelm yourself at once. Give yourself some time to get used to your technology. If there’s a certain feature you don’t trust, such as a webcam, you can purchase a device that doesn’t come with one.
If you want a device that doesn’t utilize 5G, you can purchase a 4G or 3G device. If you need help finding something that meets your needs, speak to the tech team at the store. They can help you understand.
Speak to a Therapist
Of course, it’s important to remember that paranoia is not simply something that can be cured by itself in a lot of cases. You sometimes need to see a therapist or convince those you love to try therapy to help them get through it.
Paranoia is often experienced by people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and it’s often extremely distressing for those who experience it. Speaking to a professional is one way to help yourself get a basis in reality and understand when you’re safe or not.
Even though you may have difficulty trusting a professional, they can help come up with a treatment plan that can potentially cure the paranoia or help you manage it so that you don’t need to feel afraid anymore.
You can see a therapist online, as well, if you don’t feel safe seeing them in person. If you prefer not to do it online, you can set up phone call or video chat appointments instead.
Medications for paranoia are an option for some people, and you can always express interest in trying medication when you see your medical provider or therapist. Most therapists can’t prescribe medications unless they’re also psychiatrists, so you may want to meet with a psychiatrist or medication management company instead.
Anti-psychotics and anti-anxiety medications are some of the options available. However, you’ll want to speak to your doctor about what would work best for you and learn about any possible side effects that you might encounter with the medication you choose.
Familiarize Yourself or Take a Course
Another great way to reduce fear and paranoia about technology is by familiarizing yourself with it or learning new ways to use it. There are plenty of courses available to assist you in learning about technology. You can even find in-person courses in some cities that have learning centers. You’ll want to contact them to learn more about how to sign up and how much it might cost.
You can take courses on things such as:
- Learning how to use social media
- Learning common software such as Microsoft Office
- Smart-phone introductory courses
- Coding and design
There are many courses designed specifically for beginners that can go at a slower pace for those who might struggle with picking up the new information.
If you experience paranoia or fear of using technology, you’re not alone. Many people have the same thoughts and feelings. The best thing you can do to help paranoia is to reach out for help.
If you want to learn more about paranoia and what might constitute paranoia, you can check out BetterHelp’s great advice column here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/paranoia/.