Internet addiction is on the rise

Steelseries gaming laptop keyboard. PHOTO BY MEGAN BEAM
Steelseries gaming laptop keyboard. PHOTO BY MEGAN BEAM
Staff Writer

The clock has just hit midnight and you find yourself with your hands on your keyboard.

You have assignments to do.

You know it.

Your brain knows it, but there’s always a little voice in your head that is murmuring: “I wonder what’s happening on Twitter,” or “Maybe I should see if anyone has liked that post on my wall,” or “Just one more YouTube video.”

Finally, you wipe the bits of sleep out of your eyes, close the lid of your laptop and try to settle.

You then set your alarm on your phone.

“Class is at 8:30 so I should wake up at 7:15,” you think to yourself.

And then the voice comes again: “I need to check my email. Maybe then I could watch just one more video. Couldn’t hurt.”

After a leaf through Gmail and another video, a few more taps of the capacitive glass on your phone, its 2:30 a.m.

You then remember the assignments.

According to a recent OUCHA study of Canadian college students, nearly 20 per cent of students claim that Internet use, including gaming, has had an impact on their academic studies. This brings to light the true nature of a problem that is gripping this generation technology dependent college students: the grim reality of internet addiction.

Problematic Internet Use (PIU) has become a serious problem globally as more people gain access to computers and smartphones every year. Centers for the rehabilitation of Internet addicts have been cropping up in countries worldwide, including China, Australia and the United States, making it clear that this is a problem that needs to be taken seriously moving forward.

According to Comscore, the leading authority on Internet use statistics, Canadians tend to spend 36.5 hours a month on the Internet, leading the U.S. by five hours. It’s no surprise that the number can be drastically higher when accounting for young people who can spend up to 10 hours a day using their smartphones.

The Internet can open up a world of vices for users. It can feed a number of pre-existing mental-health issues, including gambling addiction and depression.

The Internet can also play a fairly harsh role in the life of somebody who is affected by social anxiety, where life can revolve around keeping up with social networks for the majority of their interaction.

Most of the problem lies in just how convenient the access to the Internet can be. It’s constantly at our fingertips, so it can be hard to resist the urge to keep our minds online. Modern-day technology is a necessity and it can be hard to distance yourself from it and regulate the compulsion to keep clicking.

If you find yourself spending too much time online, here are some tips on how to cut back on your internet use:

  • Keep a log of how much time a day you spend with your devices. Just seeing an exact number can help you recognize how much of an effect the internet has on your life.
  • Set restrictions for yourself and keep to them. If you found out that you spend eight hours a day online, cut it to six and gradually bring it down.
  • Ask yourself the question: “Do I need to be online right now?” Many of the issues with Problematic Internet Use come down to recreational activities, such as games and videos. Finding a new hobby can be a great way to get a break from your devices.
  • Designate a “social media hour” for yourself once a day to keep up with your emails and other social networks, but don’t go beyond it. You’ll find that after a few days that hour will be one of the most socially productive elements of your day, rather than waiting at the beck and call of your notification tone.
  • Join a club. If you find yourself with free time on campus, clubs can be a great way to be social without being tied to your phone.
  • Finally, if you still find yourself spending the majority of your day at a computer and you have realized that it is having a significant impact on your life and your future, talk to your family and seek help. There are many counsellors out there who specialize in Internet addiction treatment who would be willing to offer their guidance.