Our Internet Addiction

19 Oct 2021

   Ranging from mind numbing, endless scrolling through your Instagram feed to constantly gaming and online shopping, we as a society are quite literally addicted to the internet. Whether it be through an obsession with likes and follows or the simple action of watching and clicking through bucketloads of content, we find ourselves ultimately not able to put our phones down-- feeling empty and unproductive after hours of surfing the web and not getting any work done. 

    Psychologically, our internet addiction draws striking parallels to drug and substance addiction. Excessive internet usage has symptoms of mood modification, salience, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, and relapse. Salience is the mental state of constantly thinking about the internet and social media; withdrawal and conflict deal with the negative effects due to failure of internet access; tolerance and relapse deals with sinking back into one’s internet addiction, and mood modification is one’s emotional state being worsened or improved through internet dependency. In a world where social media and technological usage is the norm and social currency is deemed extremely valuable, it’s not shocking that the majority of people get addicted to the internet. With their bright glow, popular ads, and large platforms, social media and the internet as a whole has been designed to reel consumers into their content spread. 

    Holistically, excessive online activity, especially on social media platforms, is an issue that is all too common. In fact,  90% of young adults who are on social media spend on average two hours a day there. And the effects are saddening. 7-12th grade students who spent over 2 hours a day on social media reported higher depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, in children as young as 12 years old. In other words, when fueling our addiction to social media, our insecurities and mental health issues rage at an all time high. Our productivity is lessened, our physical health deteriorates, traits of laziness and irritability arise, and we tend to attach our self worth and values to the cheap, surface level dopamine that validation from social media offers. 

    Clearly, as humans, we have grown into a community addicted to social media and the internet. But of course, how do we solve this issue and increase our productivity? What can we do to alleviate the negative effects of endless scrolling and use social media in a healthy, controlled manner? How can our depression, anxiety, and insecurity issues be curbed so that our mental health doesn’t deteriorate from excessive internet usage? 

    The answer comes from taking matters into our own hands. It starts with recognizing and validating the issue of internet addiction, and acknowledging its detrimental effects on our lives and the fact that it’s something we all struggle with and suffer from. Then, we must take action. From taking some time to set our phones down and go on a walk to setting time limits on the apps we spend the most time on, it’s the little things that can truly work to effectively combat internet addiction. Apps like Timo that spur productivity and increase awareness about this issue can greatly help push you to be one step closer to aiding your internet addiction. We must digitally declutter our environment by getting rid of useless apps, turning off notifications, setting aside time for internet-free time, and absorbing ourselves more into real life. 

    Overall, it becomes clear that internet addiction is a relevant and crippling issue that touches the lives of those who use technology and social media daily. Likewise, we must all work to combat this addiction so that our health and happiness can improve.