In a journal article by Kimberly Young, an addiction to the internet is referred to as being a clinical disorder and that “some online users were becoming addicted to the internet in much the same way that others became addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling…” (Brady, 1996, Murphey, 1996).
That was almost 20 years ago.
This is perhaps more serious a problem and affects a greater number of people than a lot of us may think. What’s worse is that it’s an increasing concern. Just have a look at some of the startling facts below:
In one survey, it was found that children as young as seven were becoming addicted to social networking with around half of 7-12 year-olds found to be on Facebook (Mintel).
Just think of the panic you experience and feeling when your heart skips a beat as you realise you can’t feel your smartphone in your pocket or your handbag – ‘how on earth will I cope without checking my Facebook? without sending that tweet? without ‘Insta-gramming’ what I’m away to eat for dinner?’ Social networking doesn’t just play a part in people’s lives – for some, it is their lives.
An interesting impact of addiction that I discovered when researching this, is that it can cause young people to be dissatisfied and miserable with their own lives. This is because of their overexposure to positive and happy images online of other people’s lives. This can also sometimes lead to behaviour problems which too, is an effect of social media addiction.
Many young people get into a social media ‘routine’ whereby they’ll almost revolve their life around their online presence. They’ll check their smartphone – Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram etc. – as soon as they wake up (before they’re even out of bed), before getting up and switching on their laptop and continuing their day of social networking. It is when the constant checking of these sites starts to interfere with and disrupt ‘real-life’ routines, and prevent or delay non-technological activities that it could be classed as an addiction – not being able to do something before they’re totally up to scratch with the latest goings on from the world of tweets, snaps and statuses.
However, in an interesting blog by John Dyer, he blames not the children for having an addiction but the parents for not allowing them to get out enough, have enough face-to-face contact and having too much control over them.
Danah Boyd’s “It’s Complicated: The social lives of networked teens” discusses how children do in fact want to have more personal time with friends and family, but factors such as being over-scheduled with sports and other activities – “a major cultural shift” – are preventing them from doing so.
Personally, I feel that the addiction comes down to one simple reason – many people love a bit of gossip! Now that the world has introduced so many new ways of interacting and communicating, everyone wants to know what’s happening to who, when, where and why at any given time. We just can’t help ourselves!
Finally, here’s a fairly light-hearted article published in The Telegraph to determine whether you’re addicted to Social Media or not…
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