Are you addicted to the web?

Could you do with unplugging for a while?

Written by Helen Carroll


You wake up in the morning, but it always seems to take an absolute age to get out of your warm, comfy bed. You turn the alarm off on your phone, then check Facebook. Then Snapchat. Then Whatsapp. Then Instagram. Then Twitter. Then Facebook again (in case you missed something!), and now you’ve to rush to get ready for school or college as you got so distracted. Does this sound familiar? I’ll admit I’m guilty of it myself, but digital addiction is actually a thing and it’s becoming more prevalent in society as technology advances, especially among teenagers and young adults.

It’s so easy to access the internet nowadays. It’s on the laptop and on your phone. Your phone is constantly buzzing because your apps are demanding your attention. Being connected isn’t a bad thing, but not being able to disconnect is the problem. It lowers your self-esteem as you’re constantly comparing yourself to your friends, seeing who can get more likes on their profiler or the most retweets. Remember, people only post the positive things that happen in their lives, not the negative, so it can seem like they have their lives all sorted out when you don’t, making you feel worse! It means you pay less attention in lectures or in class as you’re too busy on Yik Yak or thinking about what your friend could be messaging you on Facebook Messenger.

Irish teens are absolutely obsessed with technology, and they’re getting very good at using it. The problem is though that constantly being “plugged in” has shown to have a detrimental effect on us. Leaving your phone in your pocket when on the bus or out with friends may seem odd or even make you feel stressful, because it is literally an addiction.

Cutting back on your internet addiction

When you try to quit social media you go through withdrawal symptoms, making you check it “just for a sec” to see what’s happened in the past twenty minutes. It means you sleep less as you’re watching Youtube videos or Vines and your sleep is worse because the blue screen disrupts melanin production (a hormone that helps you sleep) which means you’re grumpier in the morning and can’t concentrate on your work as much. Disconnecting is really tough, but I honestly think people should try a “detox” at least once. Don’t bash it until you try it!

The best one to start with is usually Facebook, as it is one everyone has and one that many people actually find quite easy to disconnect from, as seriously, you’re not missing out by not seeing those gifs or vines on your newsfeed. By deactivating your Facebook, it is NOT deleted, and you can reactivate it at any point by simply logging in again! (If you’re really brave, you could go fully cold-turkey from the start!)

When you first do this, you may experience emotions ranging from relief to worry to feeling lost, but I can guarantee that these feelings pass. When the social media cravings hit, set a timer on your phone for ten minutes. In this ten minutes, you’re not allowed go on the internet, you’ve got to read, write, draw, listen to music, sing, dance, clean up, do absolutely anything that doesn’t require the internet! Ten minutes is a tiny amount of time, but you’ll find that once that time is up, you don’t really feel like you need to check Instagram anymore as the cravings have passed.

Social media can destroy your self-esteem

Social media is toxic to your self-esteem and can impact on your mental health. Instagram used to have hashtags like #Thinspiration and #ProAna encouraging people to lose weight, or as #ProAna advocated, to become anorexic. Is this the sort of thing you want to be surrounded by? We are constantly bashed in adverts both online and on billboards, and studies have shown it makes us feel worse about ourselves, so by cutting the ties with advert heavy social media, you’re giving yourself a chance to breathe and just be you.

Don’t forget that social media also gives people a veil of anonymity, so bullying is a serious problem. Even if you yourself are not subject to it, it is almost impossible to not see it online. Some sites even ad to this problem, by allowing people to submit questions, textposts or images anonymously. You don’t need to surround yourself with this hate and negativity, so ditch the Negative Nancy that is the online world!

Social media gossip is not news and when people plug out, their relationships with other people improve, they become more organised and they value their time more. People go on social media most when they are bored or when they want to ignore those around them, it’s why it seems every single person on the bus is on their phone! People have this idea nowadays that we must be entertained constantly, but you’re missing the life outside the window when you’re stalking your crush on Facebook. If you need to know something quick and no one around you has the answer or there are no books nearby that might have it, you can google then and not feel guilty, as long as that one search doesn’t end up becoming hours trawling the internet and ending back up at Facebook!

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