A few years ago, warnings about Internet use were met with derision and accusations of naiveté. That has changed. Now the evidence is piling up that overuse of the Internet and its spawn, social media, are making us dumber, lonelier, more anxious, and more depressed.
The statistics about Internet use are startling. Americans spend more time staring at screens than they spend on any other activity, including sleep. More than one-third of smartphone users go online before getting out of bed in the morning. The average teen sends some 3,700 texts per month.
Tech devices can cause trouble even if you’re not actively engaged. Do you leave your smartphone by your bed so you can check it just one more time before turning in? If so, the light from your tech device may be messing with your sleep cycle. Our brains associate blue light with daytime, so the blue light emitted by screens tricks your brain into thinking it should be awake and alert. The result can be sleepless nights and groggy days.
Many studies have shown connections between living in the virtual world and stress, depression, and even suicidal thinking. The threats include being more prone to serious mental illnesses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and even psychosis. One California psychologist who has studied the issue feels that the Net “encourages—and even promotes—insanity.” Results from serious Internet addiction can be horrendous. A couple neglected their real infant so badly that it died, while they nourished an online virtual baby. A young man beat his mother to death for suggesting that he log off. Several Web users have died of blood clots from sitting too long. But even if Web users’ behaviors are not extreme, there is evidence that their brains are being rewired. Researchers have found that the brains of Internet addicts resemble the brains of drug or alcohol addicts. So, give the virtual world a rest. Your survival in the real world may depend on it.
Image Credit: Photodisc/Getty Images
Is the Web Driving Us Mad?
Read about the latest research on how the Internet is making us lonely and depressed—and much worse.
(Source: Newsweek/Daily Beast, July 8, 2012)
Light from Electronic Screens at Night Linked to Sleep Loss
The American Medical Association recommends you turn off your gadgets at night.
(Source: Chicago Tribune, July 8, 2012)
Our Digital Mindset: UT Prof Faces Challenge of Holding Students’ Attention in Online World
A journalism professor deals with electronic distractions in his classroom—and in his students’ brains.
(Source: Austin American-Statesman, July 22, 2012)