Internet Addiction is Taking Over Our Minds and Culture

Original May 10, 2011 Issue 16

By: Hiba Ahmed

Staff Writer

With this generation’s many advances in technology, it is not difficult to see why students are so dependent on the Internet. There is so much on the Internet that is easily accessible, including research tools, games and various social networking sites that keep students connected with friends and family. While Internet usage is a necessity for education and other clerical tasks as well as a stress reliever from everyday stressors, too much of it, as with all good things, can become a bad thing.

Internet addiction is a very common phenomenon that is all too often ignored in today’s society. This is because addiction is a word that is closely related to drugs or alcohol. Not many want to associate it with technology. Internet is a crutch for many busy college students; they use it for entertainment when they are bored, anxious or need a quick solution to a task. According to a 2010 Merrill study done in which University of Maryland students were told to unplug all technology for 24 hours, the 18-21 year old college students were deprived of constantly texting and Facebook. Students’ lives are wired together in such a way that “opting out of that communication pattern would be tantamount to renouncing a social life.”

Some users of the Internet spend so much time logged on that their personal and professional lives suffer. When technology usage begins to negatively impact a person’s life and the user cannot seem to stop the usage, it is categorized as an addiction.

A student in the Merrill study expressed a common view of many Internet users. “Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort. When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.”
Addiction is indeed a frightening word, but there is no need to worry because there are solutions. Here are some ways that you can learn to use Internet in moderation and not become too dependent on the glorious metallic screen that we have grown so accustomed to:

The first thing Internet addicts should do is admit that they have a problem. They need to acknowledge that the usage of technology is no longer a healthy activity but has gotten to the point where it negatively impacts their lives and the people around them.

The next step would be to find the triggers, actions, or thoughts that can set off an addict. For instance, some addicts overuse the Internet when they are bored, stressed or anxious. Sound familiar? As a replacement, an addict could instead exercise or learn some meditation techniques.

The next step to recovery could include recording daily usage of the Internet. By recording their usage, addicts would begin to realize how much of their time is used doing unnecessary surfing on the web. The addict should then set a timer by their computer and set goals for completing tasks which require computer use. The addict can learn to immediately get off once a task is completed. Start with about 2-3 hours, and then slowly start scaling back with 10-15 minute increments.

Once they have gotten used to using the computer a little at a time, they can then find other activities or hobbies that they enjoy as replacements.

Fighting an addiction does not need to be difficult. It can be conquered easily with a bit of perseverance and motivation. So, quit using the Internet, already!