Cyber addiction is a compulsive, excessive, and nonproductive use of the internet and social media to kill free time for recreation and social purposes. It is often accompanied by overuse and poor time management while gaming online or using social media apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. You can experience this overwhelming urge to use the internet on your computer or laptop. Still, the size and convenience of carrying smartphones and tablets anywhere make it a lot easier to fulfil this immense urge.
In 2014, 420 million people were addicted to the internet, and the number is growing profoundly since then. The American Psychiatric Association also says that teenagers spend almost an entire day using the internet except sleeping. These statistics show that cyber addiction in youth is increasing day by day.
If you observe yourself checking your phone every five minutes, opening Facebook or Instagram to scroll through the feed, or checking WhatsApp repeatedly to see whether your friend replied to your message, you probably have an internet addiction. Cyber addiction occurs when you become dependent on internet usage, texting, checking emails, or social media. But how to make sure you or your friend has internet addiction? Well, let’s talk about a few signs and symptoms of cyber addiction.
Signs & Symptoms:
Lying and concealing about internet usage
Irritability or anger when asked to restrict internet use
Disengagement from the activities you once enjoyed
Fatigue, insomnia, and digestive problems
Aches and pains from inadequate movement
Unintended weight changes
Poor attention span
Trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy
Strained interpersonal relationships
Tell me honestly, is it actually worth it? The effects of cyber addiction are quite dangerous and depressing. Excessive internet use adversely affects your physical, social and emotional well-being. It impairs your ability to think outside the box and to explore what the world has to offer. Cyber addiction ruins your ability to build social connections and maintain personal relationships. The internet is no less than a drug. If taken in excess, it will only toxify your mind and life. Therefore, if you find yourself or your friends having any of the symptoms mentioned above, follow the tips below to overcome it.
Accept it to end it
The first step to cut down any bad habit or bring a change in your life is to admit it. Accept that you are doing something wrong, and it is taking a toll on your physical and mental health. It takes immense courage to accept your flaws and so this is your first victory. By confronting yourself that you have a problem, you become honest with yourself about the whole situation, and it gives you a clear picture of the whole situation. It also makes you realize how harmful your bad habit is. Once you accept it, you will be willing to make the necessary changes to cut down your internet addiction.
Figure out the cause for curb cyber addiction
Why do you use the internet so much? What exactly is your cause of cyber addiction? Perhaps you have fewer friends, and you feel lonely? . It is possible that you are a shy person who hesitates in interacting with people. Or maybe you have no one to share your emotional needs with? It is also possible that you seek validation through social media. Whatever it is, figure out your reason for using the internet too much. Do a thorough analysis of yourself and evaluate your personality. It is imperative because when you figure out the feelings that lead you to get addicted to the internet, you have better chances of fixing the problem.
Cut down the smartphone usage to curb cyber addiction
Do you dare to detox? Digital detoxification every once in a while is crucial for your peace of mind and sanity. However, you can only do it if you have the determination and strength to do it. Once you admit that excessive internet is unhealthy for you and control your life, you can reduce its usage. You can limit your app time or internet time to 30-45 minutes. Once you reach that limit, your app/phone reminds you, and you can immediately shut it down. Options to limit the app usage are available in all the latest android devices and iPhones. It will help you keep track of your internet usage and in control of it.
Adapt conventional ways of communication to control cyber addiction
Do you spend hours sending unlimited messages and voice notes to your friends to discuss your life problems and job issues? Or do you send lengthy paragraphs to an individual you just got into a fight with? Well, stop! Please. It is too energy-draining and toxic. Why don’t you arrange a meeting with them or maybe give them a call to resolve the issue? Also, if you spend hours playing online games, can’t you replace them with outdoor games? You can also go to the gaming zone with your friends and play games over there with them. It will help you stay connected with your friends and far away from the internet as well. It’s a win-win!
Socialize with friends and family
Put your phone aside and share some real-life experiences with your friends and family. Visit your friends, check out a new restaurant with them, or invite them to your place and order a pizza! Go on a beach trip or to the movies with your family and plan some fun activities. Show them that you love them by prioritizing them and giving them time. You won’t feel lonely if you share a strong bond with your family and one to two best friends. Trust me. It’s a game-changer! Try to maintain your real-life relationships rather than virtual ones. It’s these people who will stand by you during your good as well as bad days.
Work on a to-do list to curb cyber addiction
A to-do list helps you focus on the things that are your priority and therefore, should be your prime focus. It ensures that you deal with the first things first. You can maintain a daily journal to keep a record of your daily to-do list. As you finish your first task, mark it done and move to the next task.
For example, you are a college student, and you have to submit an assignment, go to the gym, finish chapter five of the book you are reading, and change your Facebook profile picture (lol). You should list these things in the order of importance, and Facebook DP should be the last one, please!
It is one of the most effective solutions for cyber addiction. Following a proper routine makes you better organized and a well-managed person. A major cause of cyber addiction in youth is that they don’t have a proper schedule to follow.
Make a routine for curbing cyber addiction
If you have been living your life undisciplined, it’s time you change that. Time management is the fundamental key to organizing yourself, living a balanced life, and slashing out any bad habit, including cyber addiction. Start by making a timetable for your day to incorporate several other things, other than the social media. This way, you will feel less urge to check your phone now and then. You can accommodate 1-2 hours of internet usage in your routine but not a minute more.
Online gaming is not the end of the world. There are a lot of other activities that you can do without your laptop and smartphone such as going to a nearby park to play football with your next-door neighbours, participating in community service and volunteering programmes . You can take the arts, music, or swimming classes if you wish. You can go for a daily walk or join a gym; it will keep you physically and mentally fit.
Find outdoor activities to control cyber addiction
Outdoor activities prevent boredom, help you fight depression, make you feel fresh, open up your mind and are a great way to maintain distance from the internet.
If your internet usage is getting out of control, and you find yourself getting more and more addicted to it with every passing day. Therefore ,you need to take serious action against it. You have to get rid of your electronic devices for some time at least. It can be your laptop, smartphone, tablet, PlayStation, whatsoever. You can ask your parents or your best friends to keep your electronic devices away from you until your addiction is under control.
Keep electronic gadgets inaccessible
I am sure it is a challenging thing for you to do, but you need to understand that it can prove to be very dangerous for your health and well-being if your addiction gets worse. You will stay away from your electronic gadgets if you really want to get rid of your addiction.
Seek professional help
If the tips mentioned above don’t work for you, you can ask a reliable friend to help you get through this or seek professional help. You don’t have to hesitate or be shy about it. A professional therapist or a friend will help you open up about the emotions that repeatedly trigger you to go online. When you open up about your feelings to someone, it lifts a heavy burden off your chest, and it gets easier for you to cope with the challenge you are facing. They can also help you in setting and achieving your goals and keeping your behaviours in check.
The tips and ideas mentioned above can be very beneficial for you if you want to get yourself out of this trouble. It’s easier to fall into addiction again after getting out of it. Please keep track of the signs and symptoms I discussed above. If you start experiencing any of these, immediately take control of yourself and practice these tips. Cyber addiction is toxic; however, it can be contained if you are willing to develop some resistance, build a healthy lifestyle, and seek help from a professional.