As part of National Addictions Awareness Week, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Problem Gambling Services held their first Digital Dependency Awareness Conference today.

Four keynote speakers spoke about the impact of technology and the harm it can do.

One speaker compared a digital drug to a pharmalogical drug - like a pill, it changes your heart rate slowing it down or increasing it.

Digital media can do the same thing and there's no shortage of platforms for that, from video game systems to mobile devices.

Speaking at the conference, Andrew Doan says the population with highest digital addiction is teenagers.

“There are clinical benefits and unfortunately because of the arousing effect can also be abused," says Doan.

Doan believes too much gaming by children can have some benefits as they grow older, like hand eye coordination and strategy thinking.

“The sooner you expose an addictive agent to a young mind you are actually programming that young mind to want more addictive behaviour later on in life," he says.

The next wave of digital dependency could be virtual reality.

Alex Smithson is the co-founder of Metaverse and says while virtual reality can be addictive to users, it can be used for good

“But why not use this technology to help treat addiction as well and to help drive positivity forward," says Smithson.

He claims early studies have shown virtual reality can reduce pain medication by 25 per cent.