Author: Justin Mckibben
More and more these days we see it; people engrossed in their smartphone walking down the street, or even more dangerous, driving. I am honestly guilty of it myself. We find ourselves so involved in the world outside ourselves that is being broadcast across the invisible networks of the internet , and when we are in front of a computer we are trapped in the soft glow of our monitors like flies buzzing toward a bug-zapper.
While some people have an ability to take notice of how this is effecting their lives and relationships and act on it, many others are unable to completely let go, or even still have no intention of admitting to the dependence they have formed with their technology. But new studies are being conducted frequently to show us just how much of our population really relies on the fix we get from our social media new feeds or our endless stream of emails.
What is internet addiction?
Internet addiction is pathological and compulsive computer use that interferes with daily life. It is the inability to control internet use, resulting in an adverse impact on interpersonal relations and physical health. The concept of Internet addiction is still highly debated. Internet addiction is consistently becoming more understood and acknowledged as a hazardous compulsive condition.
Compulsive internet use can interfere with daily life, work, and relationships. When you feel more comfortable with your online, even when it has negative consequences in your life, then you may be facing a more intense addiction to the internet and a higher dependence on technology.
The Numbers are In
According to a new study by researchers at the University of Honk Kong, about 6% of the world’s population is addicted to the internet. Now that number may seem small, but in other words that is actually 420 million people!
The meta-analysis was actually published last month in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. More than 89,000 individuals in 31 countries (About half (49%) of the participants were men, and the average age was 18.42 years) were part of this study, and the data was collected regarding the prevalence of internet addiction, and some interesting conclusions were reached by the team.
Internet addiction appeared in the data to be more prevalent in countries or regions with a lower quality of life, which includes:
- low gross domestic product
- environmental factors such as high pollution and traffic
- The highest frequency of internet addiction was detected in the Middle East with a 10.9% internet addiction rate
- The lowest was in northern and western Europe with 2.6%.
The researchers explained that according to the survey and their analysis, internet addiction was more dominant for nations with a few key factors, such as:
- Greater traffic time consumption
- More pollution
- Higher dissatisfaction with life in general
In the publication it was noted that people may use the internet as a coping mechanism or an escape from the stress of the real world, which for anyone familiar with drug and alcohol abuse (or any kind of addiction for that matter) is understandable seeing as how many people who abuse drugs and/or alcohol state that as time moves on, they tend to use these substances as an escape from the complications they face in life. The authors of the report wrote,
“In the present cyber age, people may immerse themselves into the virtual world of the internet to escape from stress they experience in the real world. As the boundaries of the virtual and the real worlds become blurred, individuals who encounter more frequent real life problems have a greater motivation to use the internet as a coping mechanism.”
Past research has been suspected to link internet use to addiction, depression, or other behavioral and psychiatric problems, but not enough information to determine a causal relationship. In other words, internet addiction may not be the cause of these mental disorders, it may just be that people who have these problems may be more prone to escape online.
Smartphones in correlation with social media has helped bring the concern with internet addiction to the forefront of most people’s, and funny enough we read most of the information about it we find off the internet itself. While the studies continue to try and identify the contributing factors and common variables with internet addiction, others continue to speculate the real scope of this compulsions influence on our everyday lives.
Still, no matter how small 6% may seem, in the grand scheme of things that is a massive number in our world, and experts believe that as technology grows, that number will only grow with it.
While internet addiction may not be as noticeable in a society that thrives on technology and social media, it is a disorder that is growing as the social media does, and as with any powerful addiction, there is always help out there. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135