Today online addiction has become a new source of mental disturbance. It is categorised by experts as the dependence on technology like smartphones, internet, online gaming and videos, online addiction is a behavioural problem like gambling. With online access and gaming getting cheaper, it is easy to get hooked on to the new window for entertainment. With almost single families everywhere and both parents working, especially in metropolitan cities, where parents don’t have enough time to be with their children, online addiction is becoming a habit in the absence of a company.
Due to loneliness, children develop mood swings, become angry and frustrated easily, become addicted towards wrong things that hamper their mental and physical health. This loneliness, in the long run, turns into online addiction and thus they stop interacting much with their parents, sharing their problems and prefer to stay alone without allowing much interference in their lives. The way the cyber world has drastically affected their psyche can be analysed by the recent incidents of “Blue Whale Challenge” which created havoc on social media, the game which made many teens across the world commit suicide.
With the advent of social networking sites and apps, today online interactions have invaded the mainstream space and have replaced real emotions. Online interactions are far more superficial than interpersonal bonding, and this makes people very lonely and depressed in the end. A 2016 study published in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry revealed that depression among university students is at an alarming 53%. India has one of the highest prevalence of mental illnesses in the world and the highest suicide rate among its youth. The pressure to anyway succeed and to match the rhythm of this fast-paced world is proving to be fatal. The ‘happy faces’ and ‘glamorous life’ portrayed on social media has been accepted by youth as the real life-truth, which is far away from the ground reality.
Spending quality time with family and friends provides emotional and social support but with virtual interactions replacing interpersonal friendships, coping skills get compromised, and the youth find themselves alienated in both real as well as virtual world. You must have noticed that people who interact so much on the social media sometimes don’t even bother to say ‘Hi’ when they meet face to face in the real world. They many times hide from each other to avoid any direct communication which indicates a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem as they have become habitual to virtual interactions than inter-personal bonding.
Youth today is succumbing to this new form of addiction, which is resulting in disturbed sleep patterns, shorter attention spans as well increasing obesity among youth due to lack of participation in outdoor physical activities and sports.
Hence it is high time when we must realise the ill-effects of this online addiction and thus make a plan for scaling down the amount of time being spent in this online world. We should make a fixed schedule for keeping a track on our internet usage and then must stick to it. Triggers of addiction should be identified, and access to online gadgets should be limited by disabling notifications. One of the best solution to beat the addiction is to indulge yourself in some hobby or any kind of outdoor sports activity.