Depression and Internet Addiction: The Dark Side of the Cyber

Introduction

The Internet can be a place where (within a few mouse clicks and keystrokes) you are enlightened, informed, and thoroughly entertained by its content. From video sharing to podcasts, and even regular text pages: There is something for everyone on the web. Within the last decade, the primary conduit for people reaching content on the Internet has changed from the search engine to social media platforms. It’s where all of your friends have a virtual “storefront” where their current activities are cataloged within news feeds, instant messages, video conferences, and essential file sharing. As with every technology, there is a dark side to Social Media that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Everyone puts their best face forward on Social Media but doesn’t ever get to the heart of an issue or state what a person is feeling at that moment. People need various types of connections to handle fulfillment in their lives. Social Media is a part of that equation. When you’re younger and spend a lot of time on the Internet, you surrender to it as it becomes the primary portal which connects you to your circle of friends.

Internet Addiction and Depression

In the article: “Association between Social Media Use and Depression among U.S. Young Adults” it says, “Depression often begins around young adulthood.[7,8] While multiple factors contribute to depression,[9], there is growing interest in the potential influence of social media (SM) use on psychological well-being. SM, which can be defined as “a group of Internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content,”[10] has become an integral component of connecting with friends and family, sharing personal content, and obtaining news and entertainment.[11,12] Use of SM sites such as Facebook and Twitter has particularly increased among young adults, who are at critical junctures surrounding developmental tasks such as identity development and [the] establishment of social norms.[13] As many as 90% of young adults in the U.S. use social media, and the majority of users visit these sites at least once a day.[14] SM use accounts for about 20% of time online on personal computers and 30% of time online via mobile phones.[15]

It may also be that those who use increased amounts of social media subsequently develop increased depression. Multiple studies have linked social media use with declines in the subjective mood, sense of well-being, and life satisfaction.[17,21,34] For example, passive consumption of social media content — as opposed to active communication — has been associated with a decrease in bonding and bridging social capital and increase in loneliness.[42] One explanation may be that exposure to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier and/or more successful lives.[43,44] Consequently, these envious feelings may lead to a sense of self-inferiority and depression over time.[45] It is also possible that the feeling of “time wasted” by engaging in activities of little meaning on social media negatively influences mood.[34] Additionally, the substantial rise in the amount of time young individuals spend on the Internet — particularly on social media — has led some to call for the recognition of “Internet addiction” as a distinct psychiatric condition that is closely associated with depression.[46,47] Finally, it is possible that increased social media exposure may increase the risk of cyber-bullying, which may also increase feelings of depression.[48,49]” (Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4853817/)

In another article on NPR called: “Feeling Lonely? Too Much Time On Social Media May Be Why” it reads: “While face-to-face social connectedness is strongly associated with well-being, it’s not clear what happens when those interactions occur virtually. To investigate, Primack and his colleagues surveyed 1,787 U.S. adults ages 19 to 32 and asked them about their usage of 11 social media platforms outside of work. The survey also gauged social isolation by asking participants questions such as how often they felt left out. (As will happen in this type of study, people may have lowballed their estimates of media use.)

It turns out that the people who reported spending the most time on social media — more than two hours a day — had twice the odds of perceived social isolation than those who said they spent a half hour per day or less on those sites. And people who visited social media platforms most frequently, 58 visits per week or more, had more than three times the odds of perceived social isolation than those who attended fewer than nine times per week. The study appeared Monday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine” (Link: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/06/518362255/feeling-lonely-too-much-time-on-social-media-may-be-why)

Conclusion

Internet addiction is a real problem. As a young person, you already have enough questions trying to figure out where you fit into a larger world. Even though many of your friends are on the Internet, you need to see real people in the physical world balance your time online. Remember that everyone puts up a good face on their social media page. Hang out with people who really care about you, so an over reliance on a virtual world doesn’t have to be the only world you experience. Thank you for reading this blog. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please let me know.

Originally published at theitlexicon.blogspot.com.

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Nick Stockton

Nick Stockton

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Life is short. This blog is shorter. You could have spent your time reading all sorts or articles, but I am glad you are reading mine.