Are You An Internet Addict?

The benefits of the internet are well documented and enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people every day. There is general agreement that access to the internet is a good thing, as it empowers individuals and makes companies and economies more productive.

The internet has helped to spread democracy around the world, improved access to education and brought information to our fingertips.

There is evidence, however, that our love affair with the internet has some negative effects, as we spend more time on-line and less time in the real world.

It seems our addiction to the internet is becoming more compulsive and obsessive and, as a result, can make us sadder, lonelier and more anxious.

It is suggested, perhaps unsurprisingly, that staring at a screen for six, eight or 10 hours a day has a negative effect on our mood and behaviour and how we interact with people off-line.

Until recent years our time on-line was probably via a PC but now we also spend time on laptops, tablets and smartphones doing a combination of surfing, texting and tweeting.

While there is no suggestion we should ignore the benefits of the internet, questions are being asked about the effects of our on-line activities such as social media, gaming and virtual reality.

The main issue of concern lies in the realisation the internet is not just a passive technology but can be an addiction with the ability to rewire our brain and change our behaviour; and not always for the better.

The most often cited negative effects of high-levels of on-line engagement include addiction, compulsion, obsession, stress, anxiety and dependence.

Perhaps some of the most worrying habits of high-level users include their tendencies to check email, texts, twitter, facebook and other social media either constantly or every few minutes.

Similarly, users of smartphones report checking their phones last thing at night, before they go to sleep; during the night, if they wake up; and first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed.

SO, although there are many benefits of the internet it is becoming apparent that, as with all technology, there is a price to pay.

What do you think? Are you an internet addict? Get in touch, we would love to hear your views contact Nick on 028 8224 9494 or via Twitter @nick_oec.