Do you remember when your phone was just a phone ?
No camera, no google, no internet, no messages, and no angry birds. I even had a phone that hung on the wall in the kitchen.
Somewhere along the way, things changed….A lot.
As our phones evolved and became capable of doing more things, we began spending more time with them. Often more time than we mean to or even realize.
Scrolling on facebook, checking e-mail, snapchat alerts, shopping on Amazon. It’s no surprise that nowadays most humans spend time and even ‘rely heavily’ on the internet everyday.
How many times a day do you check your phone or spend more time scrolling than you anticipated.
Internet addiction and more specifically social media addiction is real but it’s also difficult to diagnose in yourself.
Are you addicted to the internet?
I think I am.
15 Tips On How To Tell If You’re Addicted To The Internet
- You feel restless, depressed, moody, and irritated whenever you can’t access the internet.
- You use your efforts and thoughts to please your online friends, for the likes and gossip.
- You neglect responsibilities and miss appointments for the internet.
- Others have voiced their concerns about how much time you spend online.
- Has your internet usage taken over family time?
- Do you escape to the internet to avoid responsibilities, pain, anxiety, or troubling situations?
- You might be addicted to the internet if you lie (or are unaware) about the amount of time you spend online.
- You have physical pains like headaches, backaches, and weight fluctuation due to internet usage.
- Your internet usage has affected your finances, relationship, school, career, and even personal hygiene.
- You feel social media offers a real source of human interaction and support.
- You have an uncontrollable lust to be online, and you can’t beat it even if you cut back on time spent online.
- Do you use the internet as a means to access other addictions like pornography and gambling?
- Have you sacrificed needed hours of sleep to be online?
- You display your life on the internet, such that your online friends know what you eat for breakfast, your vacation, and the full content of your wardrobe?
- Has a child asked you why you are always on your phone?
How Much Time on the Internet Is Too Much?
I use my phone for an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes a day according to “apple screen-time”.
Seems to me like I could definitely cut back on scrolling Instagram and google news stories.
Today on average, people spend more than 6 ½ hours a day on the internet through their smartphones, tablets, and laptops, and TV’s.
in fact, kids are spending more time than ever in history in front of a screen.
As the influence of social media continues to rise, internet usage and engagement rate are only increasing.
However, experts today suggest that anything more than 2 hours a day is too much.
In fact, research shows that people who spend more than 2 hours a day online are more likely to develop adverse mental health effects.
I recently set a time limit on my phone to help curb internet usage.
Reason Why You Are Addicted to the Internet (Core Reason For Phone Addiction)
Experts in psychology agree that the internet has become most people’s escape hatch.
A place you can turn to in an uncomfortable situation or moment of unsurety and anxiety.
The internet, and more specifically , social media, have become a place of solace for people that feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, and lack emotional support due to unfulfilling human relationships.
Those who end up with internet addiction find that the “virtual world” fulfills a need that real-life denies them.
Sometimes it may be a sense of belonging,
The Internet also gives us enormous control over it, unlike the lack of control some of use feel in our ‘real’ lives. This sense of control you have on the internet only make it more appealing to spend more time on.
So, it’s no secret that you may choose the internet as your safe place.
However, a time comes when you wish you didn’t spend that much time on your phone, but you find it immensely difficult to disconnect.
If that happens, something else is at work…
Internet Addiction As A Dopamine Trigger
Dopamine is a natural chemical which our brains produce as a “reward” to motivate us to repeat a beneficial behavior.
Dopamine is the force behind all our habits (good and bad).
It’s also how our brains record the “positive feelings of well being”.
Your brain releases dopamine to give us an extra “high” whenever we do something good.
For example, solving a problem, scoring a goal, or after experiencing fulfilling social interactions.
Increasing dopamine feels good, and although it is not as intense as a cocaine hit, if you do something and feel good about it, it’ll result in a release of dopamine.
So, whenever you use the internet to feel safe, be entertained, get positive recognition from your online friends, or get messages from a loved one, dopamine gets activated.
Similarly, every online notification, such as “like” on Instagram or Facebook, is a potentially positive social stimulus that triggers dopamine.
If you ever wondered why you pick up yoru phone 1,000 times a day, sub-consciously your brain is looking for a social notification to release dopamine.
It reinforces whatever behavior caused the “feel good” moment and pushes you to adjust your subsequent actions accordingly, leading to addiction.
Social Media Addiction
Social media is only a small part of the internet as far as available content and information goes.
But social media is a huge part of the internet as far as where people are spending a lot of their time.
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest you name it, they keep us connected with our family, friends, celebrities, news, gossip, ect.
Through these platforms, we find inspiration, get playful, smarter, and creative.
Better still, tracking “likes” , followers, views, and friends gives us a sense of self-assurance and acceptance.
For some us us, we find more acceptance on social media than in the “real world”.
But, the vulnerable truth is that these platforms consume us, and the more time we spend on social media, the more addictive it gets.
Every minute we spend online strips us away from the real world, allowing us to fantasize and live in this false sense of reality.
We can control our virtual world so that we only see and hear what we want to.
When we feel good about our own safe place virtual world, we keep coming back and minutes instantly turn to hours, days, weeks, and months wasted unproductively.
But often our”safe spaces” of social media tailor made to fit our liking is not even controlled by us.
We’re controlled by it.
Social Media Addiction: An Algorithm Designed To Keep You Engaged
It’s common knowledge that social media companies are publicly traded billion dollar businesses that rely on people spending time on their platforms in order to make money.
The more time people spend on their apps, the more money they make.
They want us hooked.
It’s worth noting that companies, such as Facebook (which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp,) earn money by selling our attention to advertisers.
Advertisers are the customers of social media companies, and our attention is the product. For this reason, social media companies will want to capture our attention for as long and as frequently as possible.
They do this by building app features that manipulate our brain chemistry.
One way these companies hook us online is through App features like the “Like” button.
Similarly, social media feeds are bottomless, deliberately designed to be endless.
That’s why you may keep scrolling and scrolling without finding any “stop” cue to take you back to reality.
For instance, video platforms like Youtube automatically play the next content in the queue within seconds of finishing the previous one.
These are all techniques specifically designed to keep you engaged.
What Can You Do About Internet Addiction
Becoming consciously aware of your internet usage and aware of the ‘tricks’ that companies on the internet are using to compete for your attention is the first step to beating internet addiction.
Conscious Self-Awareness is the Key to Overcoming Addiction
Conscious self-awareness is a vital component to overcoming internet addiction.
We all have a medium level of self-awareness, but internet addiction can easily rob us of higher level self-awareness.
It can make us pretty unconscious about various aspects of ourselves such that we may not notice how the addiction is taking over souls and lives.
It is only after you unfold your conscious self-awareness that you beat internet addiction.
The process of conscious self-awareness begins when you understand your traits, preferences, and why you spend most of your time online.
You can develop a higher level of consciousness by asking questions like, are you addicted to the internet because you escape human interaction?
If so, why, what can you do about it, and is the internet disfiguring your life in any way?
Soon, you’ll see what your mind has been trying to hide from you.
Mindfulness will significantly improve your self-awareness, give you self-control and the ability to concentrate on your more important activities.
You’ll start having good sleep quality, focus, control over your internet usage.
You can use tools like abstaining from certain platforms and using reminder cards to remind you why you want to break free of internet addiction.
You can also explore other activities you may have compromised at the cost of internet use, such as paying more attention to the people and the things you love.
What Are The Benefits of Physical Interaction vs. Digital Interaction
The internet and social media platforms are not going away anytime soon.
If anything they’re only getting stronger.
The internet is one of mankind’s greatest achievements. But when it comes to human social interaction and the internet, there are some pros, but we need to be warry of our self-awareness and self control.
Physical interaction is still very much a part of who we all are.
4 Benefits of Physical Interaction
- Social integration is essential for our wellbeing and individual needs because we are naturally social beings.
Life becomes more meaningful only if we can share our experiences, emotions, and time with the people we care about in real face-to-face interactions.
- You can access non-verbal cues like tone, body language, and facial expression. Remember, words matter, but not as much as how we say them.
- Helps build relationships
- It offers a shared context, building a more inclusive environment.
5 Benefits of Digital Interaction
- It gives you a chance to edit and revise what you want to say before the other person gets it.
- Offers instant gratification thanks to notifications
- Cost-saving as you don’t spend on travel
- You don’t need to worry about meeting logistics (like what you’ll wear).
- An unlimited number of people you can interact with.
No doubt, the internet has enriched our lives in many ways. Some say’s the internet is a greater accomplishment than the Great Pyramid built by the Ancient Egyptians at Giza.
However, we also seem to be losing a precious part of our humanity in the process of going digital.
For the sake of humanity we need to find balance before it’s too late. And we can’t leave it up to the social media companies to tell us how much is too much.
It’s up to you to be consciously self aware of your internet addiction, because chances are, if you’re not addicted tot he internet in some way, someone you love is.
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