Let’s face it: most of us are obsessed with our screens. We snort screens like drugs because we can’t get enough. But as a result, we are faced with a bigger problem: Internet addiction. This is a concern for all of us, but for Gen Z, this addiction will be even more intense and pervasive.
The topic of Internet addiction and how to break it is buzzing around the Internet. As our connectivity grows broader and longer each day, more and more people are getting addicted to the Internet (61% according to study in PRNews). Adults are going away to Digital Detox camps, some to Hospitals and in Japan, Gen Zs are going to “fasting camps”.
Internet addiction is so bad that its effects are being compared to cocaine and alcohol addiction. According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, “Internet addiction is described as an impulse control disorder which results in personal, family, academic, financial and occupational problems that are characteristic of other addictions.”
Gen Z will suffer the most from Internet addiction and it’s our responsibility to advise them on screen control before it’s too late.
Internet addiction may be growing among adults in the US, but Gen Z is much more vulnerable to Internet addiction; Gen Z has been snorting screens since their toddler years and most can’t function without it. According to a Wikia study among teens, “46% said they are connected 10+ hours per day, 47% said they are more actively connected now than they were three months ago.” While I admire Gen Z for their digital intelligence, I am really concerned. As this group of 3-17 year olds gets more and more connected as they grow up, they will be stronger candidates for Internet addiction.
How to Detect Internet addiction Among Gen Z
First, you and / or your Gen Z should take this brief quiz online to see how much the internet is affecting your life: http://netaddiction.com. I call this test the “Techalizer” because like a breatholizer, it measures how much technology you inhale on a daily basis. (I scored just below addiction, phew!)
Second, check out these Risk Factors to see who is more likely to become addicted. Unfortunately, it includes those who are already vulnerable – unhappy teenagers, those who have addictions, are depressed, stressed or have anxiety. I have an Addictive Personality which explains why I am very close to addiction.
If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of anything that affects your mood, especially screens because screens are stimulating, fun and full of surprises. One good Follower on Twitter could change your life! I am snorting screens all day and all night except when driving or sleeping. The addictive personality is more likely to get Internet addiction so beware of the warning signs and start doing screen-free activities like yoga now (and do NOT bring your phone in).
Third, get to know the symptoms of Internet addiction which include isolation, trouble completing tasks at work or at home, being defensive about Internet use, feeling euphoria while involved in Internet activities or losing track of time. While some of these symptoms sound like typical teenage behavior, Internet addiction is way more intense, especially when the child is 6! I am guilty of putting aside household tasks and posting photos instead. Here’s an embarrassing demonstration of what can happen:
Another way you will know if you have Internet addiction is if your friends know more about you than you do! They saw everything about you on your Facebook or Instagram posts.
I realized I was addicted to the Internet whenI had nothing to say to college friends at a recent reunion because they already knew everything about me from my posts on Facebook. There was nothing left to ask me, and I was so embarrassed about my addiction – didn’t I have anything better to do? Nothing says “Screen Snorter” more than posting TMI on a daily basis. I decided I’d rather be that mysterious woman who was too busy for personal posts and would say, “Facebook? No, I’m too busy working for a secret start-up.” Doesn’t that sound much more intriguing? So in many ways, it’s not cool to snort too much screen.
With Internet addiction upon us, it’s critical that all of us work together to help Gen Z avoid getting addicted:
- Gen Z – Unplug at least 1-2 hours a day. Find a screen-free hobby like yoga or biking and enjoy the outdoors
- Parents – Get your Gen Z to unplug, watch for symptoms and be a good screen role model
- Brands – Brands have new opportunities to create products that can help avoid addiction or create screen-free stores
- Media – Gen Z idolizes their celebrities. If Ashton can get through, you can change the way Gen Z thinks about screens
Remember, snorting too much screen ain’t cool…and I’ve lost track of time so I’d better go!