The Other Side of Internet Addiction in Young People

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This blog will discuss a specific young person’s experiences with mental health issues and may include references to diagnosis, treatment, or support. This should not be misinterpreted as specialized or medical advice for a particular situation you may be going through. The topic of experiencing mental health challenges may be difficult for some readers. If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, please seek support by accessing the following resources: Child Helpline International; Open Counseling Suicide Hotline Database; United for Global Mental Health 

If your country does not have a national helpline please seek professional and community support from trained and experienced carers, especially before making any decisions on treatment. 

 

I have wanted to write about this topic for a long while, but I couldn’t bring myself to write this because the story is really personal to me and it hurts me to talk about this. But still, I finally decided to pen it down in case someone finds it relatable and helpful.

Addiction. How do you feel when hearing this word? One thing I can say for sure is this word carries a sense of stigma, and when we say that someone is addicted to something, we must have judged them like “Oh, this person doesn't know how to control himself/herself, it’s all his/her fault.” In particular, I am talking about internet addiction. I know all too well that our generation is considered an internet-addicted generation by the previous generations. I admit that we, generation Z and generation alpha, use the internet much more compared with other generations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole generation is addicted.

And to the ones who are already addicted, or on the verge of being addicted, I want to say that not all of them are at fault. For so many of us, we have our reasons to fall into this deadly trap. We didn't want to be addicted. But we ended up being so.

Let me tell my story here.

I love reading. But the books I get to read cannot meet my needs. So slowly, I started to find something other than books to spend my free time. So often, I feel badly depressed. In those times, I find nothing comforting. In those times, I need something to escape from reality.

That was when I turned to the internet.

Despite knowing, I needed a distraction. Knowing all too well that it was an unhealthy coping mechanism, I relied on it. Because I couldn’t find any other choice. Because I couldn’t find a friend to rely on. Because I was overwhelmed. Because I needed a break.

Every day after having four-hour or five-hour long classes, my brain often became too tired to do something serious. And so, I ended up surfing the internet.

Someone I know said once, “Those who scroll through the internet for no good reason are lonely ones.” I realize how true it is. And I say that is my case.

As time passed, I began to realize that the amount of time I spent on the internet was unhealthy. And I was drifting away from reality; at times, even from my family. It began to mess with my daily life. I was realizing that it was getting worse and that I was wasting time. I thought of ways to get out of it, but it was really difficult, nothing was working for me.

Internet is always available compared with other coping mechanisms, that is what I think. I cannot always get a book when I desperately want to read. I cannot reach out to a friend when I feel lonely. But I can scroll through the internet whenever I feel a need to escape from reality. This high availability is one of the factors that lead to addiction.

I am still fighting with addiction. I am still in the process of recovering.  What I want to say is, internet addiction doesn’t always make you a bad or immoral person. The world of the internet is colorful, addictive and dangerous enough – especially for young people like us. I am well aware of the fact that the story is not the same for everyone.

One thing I realize is it’s really hard to get out of this alone. I consider internet addiction a mental health issue. If it keeps messing with your daily life, reach out. Ask for help. Here it comes – the adults certainly consider this internet addiction as a stigma. But when a young person gets addicted to the internet, parents and adults must come forward with a helping hand instead of blaming or judging him or her. Maybe some greater factor like loneliness or depression might be behind this. Internet addiction is like a disorder that needs to be treated. 

I personally think that the core reason for internet addiction in young people is the wanting to escape from reality, draining out of energy, loneliness and individualism. Our parents – and us – don't want to see us addicted, we don't want to waste our precious moments on an addiction. First of all, we need to find the root factors behind the addiction and eliminate them first in order to eliminate addiction. 

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