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To date, a lot of mental disorders have been found through census and psychiatric hospital statistics. All of them have been published by the American Psychiatric Association in a manual popularly known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM is written in a common language that is understood by all readers and standard criteria for the classification of all mental disorders are properly described in it.  This manual is often used by clinicians, researches, regulation agencies, health insurance companies and several other health related bodies. There is one disorder that has been affecting a lot of people today due to the advancements in technology and the fact that, our society is running on a tech-first basis. Internet addiction which is formally known as Internet Use Disorder (IUD) has entered the DSM last year in their freshly revised DSM-V edition.

What is Internet Addiction Disorder?

In this era, where technology and internet is the solution to pretty much every individual’s problems, it is not rare to find out if a person is suffering from this disorder. Internet addiction is defined as any obsessive behavior in regards to online related mediums, which disrupts the individual’s normal living and has not only affected him/her, but also everyone around him/her such as family, friends, loved ones and colleagues. . This disorder covers a variety of problems such as cybersex addiction (internet pornography), cyber-relationship addiction (social networking), net compulsions (online gaming, gambling), information overload (web surfing) and computer addiction (computer games or programming).

Interesting facts about Internet addiction Disorder

In Asian countries such as China and Korea, people experience higher rates of problematic internet usage than USA, with as much as 30 percent of the population addicted. This is not very surprising as China and Korea rely heavily on technology and these countries introduce new inventions on a regular basis. In regards to gender, men are more likely to suffer from internet addiction than females. That does not mean that females do not get addicted. Females get addicted to sexting, social media and online shopping whereas males get addicted to online gaming, pornography and online gambling.

How do people get addicted to the Internet?

There are often times when people either gets stressed, feel lonely, depressed or anxiety, and in order to escape this reality, they look for something that will make them forget about their sufferings temporarily. Obviously, Internet is the perfect solution for this as you can spend hours on it without even realizing what is going on around you. There are other better alternatives such as exercising and meditating which can help an individual in these situations but the fact that Internet barely requires you to put in any effort proves to be the best escape.  In other words, Internet addiction can be easily compared to other addictions like drugs and alcohol because the individual develops a relationship with their ‘chemical’– this relationship takes priority over every other aspect in your life  . Drug addicts or alcohol addicts use these chemicals to feel ‘normal’ and in the same way, some people use internet to feel normal. Internet addicts prefer temporary pleasure rather than permanent pleasure (exercising, meditating) and as a result, they struggle to control their behaviors and question their self-esteem. Internet can be a good and bad thing; you will just need to know how to control yourself.

Signs and symptoms of Internet addiction

  • A person who is addicted to the internet often shows signs of discomfort, disinterest and irritability when they are away from the internet.
  • Person may make excuses by downplaying the amount of time spent on the internet to avoid being classified as a person with the disorder
  • Unable to control the amount of time spent on the internet
  • The person will lose track of time without even realizing it
  • Negative Impact on other aspects of their lives
  • Escaping from several confrontation situations.
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Sometimes, symptoms could be physical such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, dry eyes, back aches and weight gain

Tips for breaking the addiction

  • Recognize the problem that you are hiding by using the internet as a means of escape.
  • Find new ways to cope with stress
  • Build your social network and relationships in real life rather than the internet
  •  Replace all your internet usage with healthy activities such as yoga or sports.

Conclusion

There are so many ways to deal with Internet addiction. Several countries have opened up rehabilitation facilities (video below) and support networks such as friends and family are key to break any sort of addictions. In a society like this, where technology is taking over the norms through means of social network and convenience, people will need to learn to control them. If not, they will be sucked in very easily as the Internet can easily be considered a drug…which will eventually turn you into an Internet addict.

 

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China was the first country to organize a rehabilitation center for Internet addicts. Take a look at this documentary as it will clearly explain how they go about treating this disorder

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Text Messaging Era begins

Everyone in this day and age knows of several ways to communicate with other individuals. The most commonly used tool of course, is text messaging. With the use of text messaging, a sender can carry out a conversation with a receiver without the constraint of being expected to reply as soon as possible and without having to set time aside for a face to face or phone conversation. In this generation where technology is widely used, the real question to ask is, “Where would we be without text messaging?”. This media feature has gained popularity through frequent usage by the tech-savvy, which has rendered it to evolve into a universally used communication tool. This tool has further allowed individuals, including myself, to be more efficient, independent and direct. For instance, I can text someone instantly that I am running late. I will be informed immediately of an emergency through the use of a text message. According to the business insider, US smartphone owners aged 18 to 24 send 2,022 text per month of average – 67 texts on a daily basis- and received another 1831 . I can surely relate to this statistic, as my previous phone plan allowed me to text to a limit of 2400 text messages per month; however, I kept going over the limit every month. When the concept of SMS (Short message service) was invented by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert, I wondered if they ever thought that this service would end up being one of the biggest revenue generating segments for cell phone carriers.

Despite all the advantages associated with text messaging, it also has detrimental effects on society. Everyone obviously focuses on the perks as text messaging has been extremely efficient in communicating with individuals in different parts of the world. I will share some insight on how this social media has had a negative impact on communication skills.

Grammar skills

spellingThe use of text messaging has adversely impacted people’s grammar skills, mostly the adolescents and young adults. If a grammar test was introduced for today’s youth, there would be a significant decrease in their grades as they are so adapted to texting shortened words and phrases such as ‘OMG’, ‘LOL’ and ‘amazeballs’. According to Drew Cingel, a doctoral candidate in media, technology and society at Northwestern University, the use of these phrases may hinder a child’s ability to switch between techspeak and the normal rules of grammar. Results from a survey to middle school students reveal that if the sender sends several texts with word adaptations, the receiver will most likely imitate it. These word adaptations resemble a viral disease, which can affect an individual’s off-line language skills that are essential for daily speaking and grammar use. For example, I am so accustomed to using slang or shortened terms when texting my friends that they adapted to my vocabulary over time and started following this trend. Common grammar mistakes caused by texting include punctuation and sentence structure shortcuts such as avoiding capital letters as well as not ending sentences with a period. People are also more reliant on auto correct and spell check during text messaging to fix spelling errors. All these factors mentioned so far, affect an individual’s formal writing as they will find it challenging to write professional letters and emails in their future careers. For instance, I always struggle to write essays and formal emails to employers since I have conformed to texting with grammatical errors. In conclusion, individuals who are obsessed with texting should find a way to balance between tech speak (text messages) and the use of language and grammar skills through face to face conversations or professional writing.

Talking vs. Texting

Have you ever texted someone as a form of avoidance? After texting someone for so long, have you considered talking to them on the phone rather than pressing a keypad? These are the kind of questions that people wonder when you ask them why text messaging has ruined verbal or face to face conversations.  Texting addictions diminish the importance of body language in our communication due to lack of meaningful dialogue and face-to-face encounters. As we learned above, texting encourages people to use abbreviations or shortened phrases with grammatical errors but this style cannot be used in phone calls or face-to-face conversations. There is also a high probability that people who love texting may or may not be uncomfortable with in-person communication. I have noticed that these individuals feel out of place during face to face conversations and also lack the ability to interact with others during phone conversations. You can easily differentiate these individuals (text messaging addicts) from the social interactive ones as they are unable to fill an awkward pause in a conversation or make small talk.  I, personally have nothing against people who love texting and are addicted to it. I am a hundred percent guilty of this charge but ensure that it doesn’t affect or reduce your face-to-face interactions and phone conversation behaviors. The art of conversing is surely dying but there are three facts that can only be done when communicating with another person that you cannot while texting:

1. Laughing in person is a completely different feeling and reaction as compared to texting ‘LOL’
2. Detecting a tone of voice in a phone call compared to a text message. In a text message, senders usually can’t detect the receiver’s emotions unless they post smileys. Even then, assumptions can be fairly wrong.
3. Timing of interaction. When person ‘A’ texts person ‘B’, person ‘B’ can either reply instantly or prolong the response to later at his/her convenience. However, it is not the same for a face to face encounter where the response is required immediately.

Relationships

As mentioned earlier, texting has impacted the way in which people interact with each other. Many adolescents and young adults enjoy texting as it is the perfect way to keep in touch with friends at any instance. Well, that could also mean texting affects romantic couples as it develops and maintains their relationships.  Partners can text their significant other at any time to check up on them and make small talk to keep the conversation going. With that being said, texting can also create a strain on a romantic relationship. People are free to text whatever they like as there are no rules or guidelines for doing so. The absence of rules and guidelines may cause a disappointment in relationships as there is no etiquette for acceptable message length, response time, or frequency of interaction. Partners have to end up interpreting their significant other’s texts based on trust, their past experiences and social cues.

Even though research studies show that texting plays a crucial role in dating, many agreed that it can also be a big flaw in a relationship. Some of the participants in the study mentioned that reading each other’s text messages is harmful as they provide a written record of communication and also concrete evidence of proof.  Few of the participants confessed that they monitor their partner’s text messages regularly which damages the trust in their relationship. I believe that texting should not be completely avoided in a relationship as it provides you with the opportunity to keep in touch with your significant other at any time but it is considered safe not to ignore other modes of communication such as face to face and phone conversations.

Here is a quick video to show you a quick history of text messaging and how far it has come since its origin.

Take a second to think of a point of time, fifteen years ago, and reflect on how people were functioning in society and what actions did businesses have to take to be successful in the market. Don’t lose that thought just yet; now, compare those times to today. When I did this activity, I realized how the world has changed drastically and all of this would not have been possible if it weren’t for all the innovations in technology. Technological advancements are a frequent occurrence and are making life efficient for various individuals and businesses. If Moore’s Law continues to be preached, all the advances in technology and reductions in cost will make computing devices accessible to every single individual worldwide

If there are any components of technology that has impacted the generation in any way possible, it would be the introduction of social media. One on one conversation with people was a well-known method of communication back in the day. Those days will never been seen again due to the the increasing trend in the use of social media.   If you have not been introduced to the world of social media yet, let me do the honors. Social media is referred to as the newest interaction tool among individuals or groups of individuals in which information and ideas are created, shared or exchanged over virtual communities and networks  . Social media can be accessed through computers, mobiles and any technological device that uses the web.

As mentioned earlier, social media has influenced the society in a variety of ways and I would like to share some insight on how it impacts two key aspects in the community that are important to us.

Communication

Communication is an important aspect of today’s society and if it was not for this, societies and governments would be on the verge of destruction. Educational institutions would probably be most affected by the absence of communication as their goal is to educate students on applying different aspects of communication related to accurate grammar, vocabulary and spelling so that they are able to use these skills in future interactions, especially when composing emails to either a manager or a recognized professional. Furthermore, social media has completely changed the way people communicate with one another. Twitter, one of the kings of social media, has a 140 character limit when a status is being posted as well as slang terms and abbreviations are often used in order for people to share their thoughts within the character limit. With 93% of our communication context missing, people are finding it easier to make decisions and form relationships between words based on phrases and abbreviations.   Abbreviations such as LOL (laugh out loud) are frequently depicted on social media websites or text messages, which tend to have a much greater meaning in today’s society rather than a three character word.

Numerous social networking websites exists today

Before the introduction of social media, not a lot of people were fans of writing but for those who did, they spent a lot of time writing letters or emails to an individual, as the action of writing was highly valued in society. Writing plays an important part of a person’s routine in today’s generation and is regularly displayed on social media websites. For example, when you write a status update on Facebook, it will be delivered to all your friends on your network in a fraction of a second. This further helps individuals to improve their writing skills on a daily basis. I am currently writing a post on a social media site such as Word Press and everyone will be able to read my blog and judge the manner in which I write this blog. This just proves that social media has resulted in people writing mainly for a larger audience rather than an individual plus the fact that several individuals have access to information and news quicker than how they used to be delivered back in the day.

Employment

I would have never thought that social media would play a crucial role in impacting employment. Social networking sites affect different factors of employment such as job searching, the hiring process and policies within the workplace.

When people are looking for jobs, they first access newspaper postings or career websites. A new trend has started since social media has entered this world. Instead of using job posting websites, 1 in 6 unemployed people dedicate their time and effort towards social media in the form of social networking websites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to find a job. LinkedIn is a very popular social networking website which is used mainly for professional networking. 89% of job recruiters have hired their employees through this medium.

Furthermore, you should not be surprised if employers invest their time and efforts in browsing through your profile on social networking sites as a part of their screening process. Hiring managers usually love to see the attributes of the individual they are hiring so that they will not regret their decision in the long run. As a matter of fact, I had a job interview last week and the manager asked me if I had any social networking profiles.

It only takes one social media addict to potentially danger a company’s reputation. Employers are now introducing strict social media policies for their employees due to the widespread influence of social media. Employment Law has established that information acquired from any social media websites can be used against an employee in imposing the severity of the punishment.

On the whole, employers and job seekers rely heavily on social media. Social media has provided companies with effective interaction tools to maintain contact with clients, customers and employees. An employer who wants to advertise and promote a new product or a brand can use websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to reach a larger audience.

To conclude, social media has a huge impact in every individual’s life and if it has not done so yet, it will eventually be a part of your routine in the future. To provide you with additional insight on how the social media revolution is capturing our lives, take a look at the video below