by Christine L. Hohlbaum
What else are you doing while reading this? Shopping on Zappos? Checking your e-mail? Tweeting? The World Wide Web is both a blessing and a curse. It has revolutionized countless aspects of our lives and makes working from anywhere in the world both intriguing and possible. The Internet can be a fun, interactive, community-building and fascinating cosmos. It can also eat up more of your time than you realize as you "quickly" surf the Internet for something, only to bounce errantly from one website to the next. I am guilty of it. You might be, too. We are entangled in the Web like rose tendrils on a lattice.
According to a recent social media addiction study by Retrevo, almost one third of those surveyed under age 35 admitted to checking their social media pages such as Twitter and Facebook more than ten times a day. Thirty-six percent of the 35-and-under group stated they update their status right after having sex. It may be healthier than having a cigarette, but is it normal? Forty percent in this same age group admitted to updating their profiles while driving (which definitely isn't safe). This isn't to say that older generations aren't falling victim to Facebook syndrome. In 2009, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook was no other than the 55-and-over crowd.
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Post-coital tweets and obsessive Facebook checking are only the tip of the iceberg, however. As more and more adults go online (it is 80 percent of the U.S. adult population at present), Internet addiction has become a more prevalent issue. According to the American Psychiatric Association, a proper diagnosis of Internet Addiction Disorder requires that three or more of the following symptoms must be present over any given 12-month period.
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- Your tolerance level increases while the level of satisfaction diminishes. You need more and more time on the Internet to get the same kick.
- You experience two or more withdrawal symptoms developing within days to one month after reducing or stopping your online time. These symptoms then cause distress or impair your ability to interact socially.
- The only way to alleviate these symptoms is to use the Internet.
- You use the Internet more often, and for longer, than you intended.
- You spend a big chunk of your day or night on Internet-related activities.
- You give up important social, occupational or recreational activities to be online instead.
- You risk the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of your excessive Internet usage.
Certainly instant communication can alleviate our workload, but it can contribute greatly to it as well.
Click here for a few strategies to balance online and offline time.
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