Digital Addiction: An ignored malady

Digital Addiction: An ignored malady

Spending too much time on internet or a smart phone leads to a loss of concentration, which in turn leads to a weakened memory

It is not uncommon these days to find young people waking up tired, with no zeal for work or studies because they slept late and spent many hours on the internet. And, instantly, upon rising from bed, they check their mobile phones for any updates, messages or notifications. Or they often scroll pages aimlessly, trying to imbibe as much information as possible. One is in so much digital activity that there is no rest for the brain.
When the involvement gets beyond one’s control, the person in question has fallen into Digital Addiction or Mobile Phone Addiction. Technically speaking, it is a disorder in which one is obsessively involved with digital devices, technologies, the internet, online or video gaming and social networking. No doubt, we are dependent on digital technology for virtually every other thing nowadays, yet its use beyond a limit is harmful.
Digital addiction goes unnoticed: parents ignore it, thinking that the user might be engaged in some useful activity, while the person in question himself might be living under the illusion that he is gaining some useful knowledge. The youth and the children seem to be unaware of where they are heading to.
What constitutes addiction needs to be understood. Sometimes a person may take up a digital device for some useful work, but not much time elapses before he gets hooked onto some addictive activity. He is not consciously aware of where he has strayed. It is not relevant as to how much time one spends on the internet or the digital device, but how obsessively a person is involved. Many a time a person may spend a lot of time on digital devices, yet he may not be addicted. He may be doing useful work and using the net as per his needs and requirements. He gives it up as soon as his task is accomplished. That can’t be regarded as an addiction.
An addict, on the other hand, gets into the habit of surfing the net unnecessarily. He is not satisfied anywhere and frequently changes the sites. He gets involved in online gaming and gambling. He prefers social networking over real social relations. He loses control over himself and goes wherever the net takes him. He doesn’t care even if he has some important task to attend to and disregards everything for the sake of the net.
An addict would always be preoccupied with thinking about cyberspace; always wishing to finish up other chores and cling on to it. An addict would use the digital devices even while he is engaged in some important activities and would look for messages or notifications ignoring other things. Addicts spend a huge portion of their time on digital screens. Children are getting more and more attracted to video games, social networking, puzzles, cartoons, etc. They don’t feel any interest in physical games or outdoor activities, don’t mix with other children, or take interest in their studies. These are the fruits of digital addiction.
When you are online addictively, you don’t keep track of time, nor does it concern you as to how the time has vanished. It is as if you are in a fairyland. You are socially isolated and do not understand where you are and in what state. Instead of developing healthy social relations, you end up forging unknown friendships with people from unknown backgrounds and thoughts. The internet offers a new world where a child or for that matter an adult can get lost in a vast cyberspace, where there are no restrictions and everything goes on stealthily. Under such circumstances, one might be tempted to find solace on the net rather than face the real world.
An addict may be addicted to, say, gaming. During the course of playing, there are exciting moments and an eagerness to achieve more, to score more. There is a feeling of ecstasy and a person desires to get more of it. Every time he scales a level, he wants to go higher, to cross another level. There is no end to it. A person may initially play these games for fun, but the game gradually takes hold of him and he feels unable to escape.
Then there is social media addiction: Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram are but a few. You are always hoping for likes and comments on your posts, signs of admiration. That is all you get, but these things keep you trapped, you want to come back to them again and again. The false glamour wouldn’t let you go. You just follow the crowd, helplessly. Then there are shopping sites, where you purchase aimlessly; you actually may not need the goods, but for satisfying your desire. There are other things like Youtube to which one can get addicted. Sometimes one might be addicted to various things simultaneously or just be addicted to scrolling pages, to find new updates, new news items. Such a person wants to remain aware of everything that happens around him. It is his addiction.
Digital addiction can lead to many physical, psychological and social problems. The addict ignore his health, abandons exercise and, as such, may develop ailments like obesity, vision problems, increase in cholesterol and sugar levels, etc. Too much online social-networking can have a negative impact on a person’s psyche too. It has been shown that on seeing the lofty and pompous profiles of people on internet, one suffers from depression because of the comparison which he makes of his own self with the false images of the people on the Internet.
Research has shown that spending too much time on internet or a smart phone leads to a loss of concentration, as one frequently changes the topics while surfing the net. The loss of concentration necessarily leads to a weakened memory. The addict ignores his studies and other important activities and is interested only in digital gadgets. He substitutes actual social relations with digital socialising, yet is under the deception that he is very social. However, he is social only through his virtual self.
In certain cases, parents themselves push the children into this addiction. Parents give smart phones to children simply to get rid of their pestering. Worse, when an infant is born, he or she is publicised through social media and from the very first day, he or she is exposed to video calls and it continues till the child is of walking age. How can we expect to detach children from this culture which the parents themselves have woven around them? They opened their eyes in it, grew in it and their best moments were made exposed to it.
It is not possible to give up smart phones up in the present scenario. That is demanding too much. But there are ways to limit its use. The important thing is to have willpower and resolve, but once a person gets addicted, he loses his willpower, too. He has to act before reaching that stage. The first step would be the realisation of its being a problem and an addiction. One can get engaged in some other activities like physical activities, sports, walking, spending time in nature and with friends and relatives. The uses of the smart phones have to be limited. Particularly, children and youth need to be detached from it, otherwise it is going to destroy a big chunk of our generation.

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