Why Am I Online Right Now?: Putting a Stop to Your Bad Web Habits
There is no denying our widespread use of technology: we’ve become a plugged in society. Though the Internet is useful in many professional, social and academic settings, it can be easy to develop poor online habits that may start to impact other areas of your life in a negative way.
A growing body of research indicates that the risks are real. The recent update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V), crafted by the American Psychiatric Association, now includes Internet addiction, as a mental health disorder, according to Forbes Magazine.
A person with an internet addiction is likely to feel preoccupied with the Internet, experience Internet withdrawal symptoms, feel a need to spend increased amounts of time online and other negative emotions and changes in mood, according to the article.
A recent study indicates that some experts are beginning to find actual changes in brain structure, including abnormalities in gray matter as a result of long-term internet addiction. The body of research is just beginning to uncover the long-term impacts, which is prompting a need for a reevaluation of our Internet habits as a society.
As a college student it may be valuable to take some time and reflect on your own Internet habits, especially as it relates to your time-management skills and study efforts.
Though research is limited, previous reports found that anywhere between 1.4 percent and 18 percent of children and teens are addicted to the Internet and may suffer from associated condition such as ADHD, depression and social phobias.
A recent research study found that 94% of college students reported spending at least an hour on the Internet every day, and 53% report using the Internet at least three hours per day. Since 72 % of students say they spend less than seven hours a week studying the research is indicating a serious discrepancy in studying and Internet browsing.
Does this sound accurate to your life? If it does, don’t feel guilty. Many websites are designed to be addicting. With such easy access to social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook it can become second nature to constantly scroll your wall or tweets for interesting photos or status updates.
The 24 hours news cycle makes it difficult not to check news sites to see what you’ve missed. With the constant uploading of new information it is an easy habit that is often hard to break. Sites like Reddit merge news and social media platforms, which provide so much content to mull through that it is easy to get lost.
More destructive behaviors, such as an Internet porn addiction may require some serious reevaluation. While the anonymous nature of the Internet makes it easy to search for topics, it can have a real negative impact on your relationships and mental health, according to an article from the San Francisco Chronicle.
The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity estimates between 18 to 24 million people are sex addicts, with 70 percent of sex addicts reporting problems with online sexual activities.
After a bad day in class or a break-up many people turn to the Internet as a way to escape their problems and get lost. As easy as this is to do, it’s important to realize that there are healthier ways to cope with stress.
What Can You Do?
If you feel like you could benefit from breaking your Internet habits there are a few easy steps to start with. Begin by doing some short self-reflection and think about your routine. When are you most likely to use the Internet for an extended period of time, unrelated to your studies? What sorts of emotions are you likely to be experiencing at that time?
Do you spend hours online in the evening when other friends are their significant others? Do you notice any pattern or triggers in your daily habits that result in spending hours of your day instead of a few minutes on the web?
Try setting goals and limits on yourself. Schedule you day, and allocate a certain number of minutes to be on the web. Stick to your limits.
If you feel the urge to get on the Internet, try a new activity. Invite a friend over or go to the gym. Try yoga or a meditation class to help strengthen your mental prowess. Get your mind of the Internet by getting your thoughts or body moving in a different direction.
This guide can give you a few more ideas as you try and monitor your routine to improve your habits. Texas State University also has a great list of types and descriptions to help you change your online habits, and seek additional help if you feel you may need it.
The Internet isn’t going away, and neither will your bad habits if you don’t make a concentrated effort to change them. There are resources out there if you need it, so unplug and go enjoy the world outside of the world wide web!