Do you always have your smartphone close at hand, never wanting to miss the latest tweet, status update, or email? You may be caught in the web of internet addiction.
We're just a click or swipe away from unlimited information at our fingertips, but your tech connection could be impacting your life. There's a dark side to the internet and social media that's sucking us into addiction.
“I do catch myself on the phone, and ... well ... I need to get off. So, it's definitely a problem,” says 16-year-old John Lumsden.
A recent study reveals the average person spends 90 minutes a day staring at their phone screen, that's 23 days a year, and nearly 4 years of the average person's life.
“You were like, ‘Oh I check my phone a little bit too much. No! You're addicted,” says Pay-Per-Click specialist John Crestani. He says it really becomes a problem, when you put your online life ahead of work or loved ones.
“Social media is not socialization. When people start using that as a stand-in for real interaction, it's going to cause developmental issues,” says Crestani.
“You're not just going to sit on the couch looking at your phone! It drives me crazy,” says mother Jill Lumsden. She worries about the smartphone's side effects with her kids.
“It makes them not as able to communicate face-to-face. It makes them a little bit more introverted. It's not good,” says Lumsden.
New research shows there's a downward spiral: the more social media consumed, the higher the chances of depression, which can lead to more trolling on social media.
“I think it's important to take more time and be there, instead of electronically there,” says 16-year-old Julia Lumsden.
There is a group called Internet & Tech Addiction Anonymous.
A doctor in Pennsylvania started the first in-patient, 10-day treatment program. It’s complete with a digital detox: no internet devices for 72 hours.
Experts say the first step is recognizing it may be time to unplug. “It's hurting families, it's hurting businesses, it's hurting relationships,” says Crestani.
Wondering if you have an internet addiction?
Signs of Internet Addiction
Meeting 5 of the criteria of the Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire (IADQ) means you are addicted.
1. Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?
2. Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
3. Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
4. Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
5. Do you stay online longer than originally intended?
6. Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
7. Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
8. Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?
Other Symptoms Include:
o Failed attempts to control behavior
o Neglecting friends and family
o Neglecting sleep to stay online
o Being dishonest with others
o Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of online behavior
o Weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
o Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities