Addiction is a strong and harmful need to regularly have something or do something. For most people, moderate and self-regulated internet use remains the norm, but with our new generation being born using the web, it’s is important to properly understand this new addiction. The disorder is marked by excessive (non-productive time spend online). Just like all the addictions we talk about, the signs are:
- Deteriorating friendships, job performance and home life.
- An unrealistic levels of happiness from spending more time online.
- Feeling angry of depressed when unable to be online.
- Lying about internet habits or feeling guilty.
- Restlessness when not online.
- Internet addiction affects 1 in 8 Americans.
- Internet addicts can experience 10-20% surface are brain shrinkage (image similar to cocaine or alcohol addiction).
- Since 2000, our attention span has dropped by 40%
- 65% of adults sleep with their smart phones(s)
- In total, American spend the equivalent of 100,000 years a month on Facebook
It sounds a little weird that it would be possible to be addicted to a social network. I am not sure of the extent of this problem. However, in a 2010 study, college students were challenged to go 24 hours without social media and used the following words to describe their experience:
- 23% Addiction
- 21% Physical or Mental Distress
- 12% Failure
- 8% Confusion
- 8% Isolation
There are subsets of Internet Addiction. For example, Social Media Addiction Disorder (SMAD) is a psychological disorder involving tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, affective disturbances, and interruption of social relationships. According to Spotlight Communications, here are some disturbing facts:
- 16% of people under 25 rely on Twitter for their morning news
- Americans spend on average of 1.28 hours on Pinterest per month
- 57% of people chat more online than they do in real life.Twitter
The One Hundred and Forty Character High. Answer the following questions:
- Do you own the book “Twitterature”? It’s available on Amazon or you can checkout the publisher’s website here.
- Have you reserved a Twitter handle for your unborn child, even though you are not even dating anyone? Perhaps, you have a handle for your pet.
- Do you know what the Fail Whale is? Extra point if you own a customized mug or t-shirt? If you don’t know — the “Fail Whale” is an illustration of a white beluga whale held up by a flock of birds, originally named “Lifting a Dreamer”, was illustrated by Australian artist Yiying Lu. It was used during periods of downtime by the social networking service Twitter. When Twitter gets overloaded, users see the above error message.
How you manage your addiction before it gets out of hand?
- Add social media to your schedule just like you would going to dinner or going to the gym.
- Remove all your “fake friends”. It’s easy, just answer the following question — Is this a person you would call on the phone? If the answer is no, don’t add them.
- Limit your social networks to the most important in your life.
- Set a timer with an alarm to alert you to move on to something else.
- Un-subscribe from notifications. They are very distracting, especially if you are in the habit of checking, every time you get one.
- Uninstall Facebook, Google+ and Twitter from your mobile phone (as an example). The average internet user can get online via three different devices. Limit your access to one or two devices.
Just for Fun – Celebrities who tried to quit twitter, but ended up in a “relapse:
- Chris Brown – quit Twitter in frustration over being asked questions about his then ex-girlfriend Rihanna (tweet free for 1 month December 2011)
- Ashton Kutcher – quit after criticizing Penn State for firing Joe Paterno before he read about the scandal at the university (tweet free for 1 day November 2011)
- Alec Baldwin – quit after being kicked off an airplane for refusing to turn off his phone (tweet free for 3 months Nov 2011)
Even if you use the internet in moderation, it can still negatively affect our body:
- Eye Stress – Using a computer for a long period is one of the most common causes of eyestrain. In the past 30 years, the percentage of adults needing glasses grew from 25% to 41.6%
- Bad Posture – Extensive reading off a computer screen tends to lead to hunching and other bad posture habits.
- Sleep Deprivation – Many people check their social media after they get into bed. The average American only sleeps 6 hours, when 7-9 is recommend.
The famous psychiatrist Carl Jung said “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism”.
Internet addiction is not currently classified a s a mental health disorder, so it is unlikely your insure will cover Internet addiction. The American Psychiatric Association has recommended more research on this subject, so this could change.