We all know the Facebook trap: you open it up on your phone or laptop and you start scrolling. Before you know it, your eyes are glazing over and 20 minutes has gone by. When Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg founded the site, he wanted to have everyone spend lots of time clicking around his website and now, 12 years later, it has changed the way we interact. In fact, social media as a whole has revolutionized communication as a whole. For many people, face to face interactions are secondary. The go-to communication tactic is direct messaging, texting, or posting messages on people’s Facebook pages. The time consumers spend on Facebook has become so excessive that according to the company’s 2012 IPO filings, users spend about 10.5 billion minutes a day (not counting on mobile apps) worldwide. That means people have spent about 55 million years on Facebook since 2009. If that’s not shocking enough, it’s estimated that this wasted time is costing about $3.5 trillion in wasted productivity. In fact, if you spent those 20 minutes a day off of Facebook and working a minimum wage job, you could make a little over $800 that year. (1)
An April 2015 study discussed in Preventative Medicine suggests that parents who are “overly” involved or those that strive for their children to experience exceptional achievement in their lives may increase their children’s risk of physical inactivity, especially for those that are ages 7 to 12. (1) In response to this, Jordan Shapiro, a contributor for Forbes suggests that this study is puzzling and that we should all actually be practicing “intentional” hyper parenting, meaning we should be constantly thoughtful of the decisions we’re making and how they will affect our children, understanding that we are always teaching our kids how to interact with the world and how they can live fulfilled lives. Active parenting will help develop our children into emotionally, intellectually, and physically healthy kids and if Shapiro argues that if we sat back and did nothing, our kids would likely sit on their laptops, tablets, or in front of the television as long as possible. (2)
A new study published in Addiction Biology provides proof that the brains of game addicts are wired differently than those of non-addicts. American researchers conducted the study in South Korea and looked at the brains of young people that were gaming addicts. The researchers saw that there were hyperconnections in certain parts of the brain of gaming addicts, most often seen in hearing and vision. This can have both good and bad repercussions. One positive response is that gaming addicts are able to concentrate on calculated objectives, including dangerous situations. However, these young adults are often easily distracted and have poor control over their impulses.
For the last 10 years, a Chinese woman named Yun who was believed to be dead, was found living in an Internet café. She left home at age 14 after a fight that she had with her parents. After so much time had passed, her parents assumed she was dead and even had her name removed from their household registration with the police. Then, Yun unexpectedly contacted her mother on WeChat, a popular messaging app in Asia. Even though they connected via the app, her mother was never able to find Yun. The police got involved and they were able to find her, where they were shocked to find her living in an Internet café. She was questioned by police and they found that she had spent the last 10 years living in various cities throughout China, mostly in Internet cafes and bath houses. She spent most of her time playing the free multiplayer FPS game called CrossFire. Yun survived on donations from fellow Internet café users and then other payers would pay her to teach them the best tactics on CrossFire, since she had spent so much time playing it. (1)
When you think of the term “couch potato”, what image does it conjure up in your mind? Many of us might think of an overweight, middle aged man with a bag of potato chips in his hand and his eyes glazed over looking at a television screen. But more and more commonly, this image is being used to describe young adults. In fact, a new study conducted by JAMA Psychiatry followed over 3,000 young people with the average starting age of 25. Then, 25 years later, they asked the participants to take a follow up cognitive test. They were asked a variety of questions including what their television and physical activity habits entailed. Those that reported spending more than 3 hours of watching television every day with little physical rigor were twice as likely as their peers to score well below average on two separate cognitive tests. The tests measured thinking speed as well as the ability to plan and complete tasks. (1) Arthur Kramer, psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Illinois has suggested that physical activity has the ability to bolster both adult and children’s thinking ability and that exercise can improve brain cell connections. In addition, it can help the brain by assisting the heart in increasing blood flow.
Video games can be incredibly engaging and lifelike, drawing users in like nothing else can. It can be fun and elicit a lot of different emotions in gamers and when used in excess, the real world begins to melt away. Responsibilities can be ignored, personal hygiene often goes neglected, and unfortunately, children can be forgotten about.
Every morning, on my way out the door I drive by a bus stop that usually has a few teens standing there. There is one boy in particular that walks to the bus stop with his head down, his eyes glued to the screen in front of him, unaware that there are cars backing out of driveways. He is at the bus stop and usually sits by himself, glazing over at the screen. Kids today are born into this world of technology and they grow up using it. Even babies and toddlers grow up immersed in televisions, computers, smart phones, and more. A study published in 2014 reported that almost half of parents in North West area of the United Kingdom believe that their kids are addicted to digital devices. Approximately 44% are hooked to their screens, with tablets being the top technology for children (39% of children have their own iPad). More than a third (38%) of North West kids also own a mobile phone, while nearly a quarter (24%) have already got Facebook. Most of the kids in the study that were the most crazed about technology were between 8 and 10 years old. (1)
Shootings around the country seem to be happening at an alarming rate. There are more and more innocent people being killed every day, at the hands of people that are very disturbed and see no other way out. In 2014, Elliot Rodger was one of those individuals that felt the need to go on a shooting rampage at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He claimed that his act of violence was one of retribution and that he was paying back humanity for the loneliness, isolation, and rejection that he felt for years. He killed 6 innocent people, and then he killed himself. He made a video before it all happened where he says that he hates women, and he will take revenge on them for the rejection that he faced.
Can you imagine your life without Instagram or Facebook? For many of us, it’s not a big deal to walk away from social media for a while. But for others – especially teen and young adults – that have grown up in a social media driven world, living without the ability to be connected at all times online is an almost impossible thing to imagine. Much of today’s youth culture is online almost constantly and their life is dominated and sometimes even controlled by social media. A new study out of Ottawa Public Health looked at how social media usage plays into a young person’s overall mental health.
Addiction can feel like an endless cycle – there are ups and downs and it always seems to be there. For Internet gaming addicts, this cycle is extremely hard to break, because the Internet is always there and it’s often a necessary tool that needs to be used on a daily basis, whether it’s for school or work. Internet gaming addiction is very real and it is becoming a destructive force in the lives of millions of people.
Digital addiction is a topic that more and more people are becoming used to hearing about. Technology is misused and abused nowadays and millions of people are living with an addiction to their screen that they just can’t give up. Brad Huddleston and Sergeant Nigel Dalton are two spokespeople that go around schools across Australia that discuss the topic. Huddleston advocates for digital detox and trying to separate people’s need for screens at all times. Technology surrounds people today – it’s in cars, it’s in bedrooms, it’s in offices, and it’s in our living rooms. For many people, there is simply no way to break away from technology. Huddleston discusses digital addiction as similar to cocaine addiction in that it causes dopamine rushes to the brain. (1)
Swatting is an Internet prank that has criminal consequences and happens when a person finds your address either through your IP address or because they know your name and address. They call 911 and report a false emergency. Emergency crews show up to the location (oftentimes the SWAT team is called) without knowing that there is no critical incident. Cybercriminals and gamers use this type of hoax quite often, and it can have horrible repercussions.
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