My not-so-strange addiction: the internet and mental health

As much as we hate to admit it, we spend way too much time on the internet. It’s literally right in the palm of our hand and at the rate at which technology is developing it will be controlling everything soon enough. Another overwhelming problem in today’s society is the skyrocketing reports of teen depression and anxiety.

In a very recent study sourced from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) in September 2016, connections between the amount of time university students (in particular) spend on the internet and the kinds of websites they are visiting have a direct impact on their mental health and overall well-being.

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To be honest, is this really such a surprise? The fact that the internet and social media promote staying inside and being glued to your computer screen, it doesn’t really scream “health benefits”. Young adults, especially in their late teen years when they transition from high school to university or college or just out of school in general, experience a lot of changes and everything that they’re exposed to will have an impact on them in some way.

Well, every Facebook post they see, every meme they share and every video they watch might just be bringing them down a little bit more. That’s right, apparently memes are depressing.

The study, which was conducted by a professor at McMaster University, also found that many of the students who were tested were considered highly addicted to the internet and showed many symptoms of depression, anxiety, impulsivity and lack of focus (often in the form of ADHD).

In this day and age, more and more people are being diagnosed with mental illnesses because people are finally starting to realize how big of an issue it really is, and it’s a strikingly sad thought.

The fact that so many people are suffering with their own problems and, in a lot of cases, aren’t willing or able to get help, can really cause a lot of problems.

People use the internet as a crutch; as a distraction to get away from the real world and the problems that they have to deal with.

But, there’s also a lot to say about how the internet helps – mainly when it comes to self-expression and the ability to share yourself online in ways you may not feel comfortable in real, everyday life. That’s also where the addiction can kick in. Relying too much on your computer and phone can limit your abilities in the real world and even impact your communication and relation skills.

It’s a hard line not to cross and it’s easy to fall way over to the wrong side if you’re not careful. The key, I think, is balancing your time on the internet and not letting it run your life. This balance, of course, is incredibly hard to achieve when everything we rely on stems from it. Everything we know or ever need to know is available at the click of a button and honestly, that’s pretty terrifying.

What’s even worse is that this is a problem that we probably won’t be able to fix. How do you stop or limit someone from their internet access? As hard as you try, there’s always going to be something that draws you back to the internet.

Now, even from an incredibly young age children are being exposed to technology and rely on iPads and tablets for entertainment instead of blocks, dolls and books. While technology is making great advancements, it’s causing a lot of problems too.

Teenagers and everybody else who has the ability to make decisions for themselves at least know that they are  at risk by being on the internet too much, but for babies and little kids it’s just being handed to them by parents as a means to an end. After all, kids screaming in a restaurant are a lot easier to handle when they have their parents phone in their hands. And I know, whatever they’re doing is probably educational and beneficial in some way, but it’s really starting the fixation off  young. It’s also making them rely on a phone or computer to be entertained.

All in all, the internet has really messed up our generation and will undoubtedly continue to impact those to come in the future. The best we can do is hope that something comes along that’s a lot before for us than the internet.

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