Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Imagine a dining room, with a beautiful wooden table and decorations in red and gold, as Christmas dinner exchanges hands, passing around the table.
But, nobody talks and blue screens illuminate the faces in the room.
Is this what your Holidays look like?
Is there really such a thing as internet addiction?
You have that one friend that just cannot get off the phone for any conversation at all ever, but should you worry?
At first glance, this might not seem like such a big deal, but science suggests otherwise.
In a study about video game addiction, the researchers concluded that individual compulsions surround the use of the internet. The internet opened a new door to exercising our compulsions and acting on impulses like gambling, pornography, shopping, gaming, and online chatting.
This addiction isolates us from our loved ones and decreases our social support.
And it may even drive a wedge in our most important relationships.
This means that you might be using technology to distract, numb, or bury your stress, your emotions, and in the long run, your own life.
Internet addiction is the excuse you make to stay inside, the time you play your game to escape your nagging wife, and the thing you do when you feel sad stressed, or angry. It’s the thing that is always there.
In a survey about video game use, 24% of people said they attempted to spend less time on video games but could not.
After all, it's socially acceptable to sit in a group and exchange showing photographs of memes, play games together, manage your apps, and text as long as you nod and appear coherent, right?
I thought so too until I asked a fellow Facebooker how she felt about technology.
Audrey from Facebook messaged me with her personal horror story.
Her own brother's consumption of video games lead him to a path of pornography obsession and permanent imprisonment.
"His mind was so warped. . . he took advantage of innocents." Audrey’s brother will spend the rest of his life in jail, due to a crime that began with a gaming addiction.
See, it all started when Audrey's family members skipped Christmas dinner altogether and appeared missing from family pictures year after year, to instead indulge in video games.
"I love my brothers, but I knew that when they played games or just bought a new one, I would not be able to count on them," said Audrey.
"They wouldn't be there if I needed to talk to them."
Has anyone you love, ever said this to you?
It is no surprise if you have seen people in your life act similarly. Video game addiction has become more prevalent over the past few years, resulting in most recently in its official diagnosis.
Internet Gaming Addiction is a condition warranting more research by the American Psychiatric Association.
This means that it is one step away from becoming a legitimized behavioral disorder as more research arises.
At first Glance, technology is appealing, can be used to keep a schedule, exercise, listen to music, and connect.
A rush hits you with every like or share, every time you level up, or anytime you binge-watch your favorite show.
Yet, somehow you feel more alone than you ever have, and you want to delete your Facebook, but you can't.
You numb your stress with your game, your media, or your online chat buddy, and you avoid facing your challenges head-on. It doesn’t seem that bad now, because everyone wastes time on the internet, right?
But, if internet addiction is a real thing, what should you do about it?
1. Set a timer and have someone keep you accountable for how you spend your time. Like mama said, ‘use the buddy system.’
2. Reconnect with nature, pick up a surfboard or find a local hiking trail. Treat every day like an adventure.
3. Talk to your friends and family face to face without your phone. Whoever touches their phone first buys everyone’s dinner!
4. Put your phone on do not disturb. Take that mental health day, this is a no-contact zone.
5. Spend time at home playing board games, talking with family, and working together. After all, family is about time, right?
6. When you want a distraction, challenge yourself by facing things head-on. If Rocky Balboa and Rudy can do it, you can too.
7. Don’t miss out on time. Collected moments become the very element of time itself. The question is, how many moments make up a lifetime? And which moments, if any, matter?
8. When all else fails, The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction can help you, your friends, and your family. “Unplug your device and plug back into life.”
You never know what the future will hold, you never know what moment’s you’ll miss, and you’ll never know what memories you could have made. The real world is waiting for you.
Written By: Tanisha Shedden
Video game addiction: https://www.projectknow.com/research/video-game-addiction/
Social support: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0894439317742611
Individual addictions and compulsions DSM http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0002764204270278