In the last half century, technology has advanced at a pace that has never before been experienced. The change in telephone technology and the rise of cell phones exemplify this rapid evolution. A decade ago, cell phones were beginning to become more affordable for the average buyer, but looking back two decades, they were in the hands of only a few who could afford the luxury. However, their ubiquity now means it is not unusual to see adolescents and teenagers – even young children – with a cell phone.
And all the while, cell phone technology has advanced so much that they are now more personal computers rather than simply a phone. They have evolved into smart phones: small, compact machines that take digital pictures, capture videos, store music, act as a personal gaming device, and have internet access. The latter allows users to use their phones to surf the web, access email, keep up with social media, stream TV shows and movies, and even navigate. The internet was a revolution in itself. Who would have imagined we would be able to access the internet with personal mobile devices?
Society has quickly adapted to these rapid changes and has even welcomed them. Many people seem to like being able to reach others whenever and wherever they are and the fact anyone can reach them, too; it can be reassuring to have this level of availability. And with cell phones enabling internet usage from any location with a Wi-Fi signal or a data plan, people also get a sense of increased productivity. No longer will an important email have to wait until they get back into the office. People also love all the applications available – social media, games, news outlets. These can be set to notify us of any new activity. With all this information and stimulation at our fingertips, we wonder how we ever seemed to get by without the internet and cell phones.
However, the tradeoffs are just as great as the rewards. Because people can typically be found with their cell phones within reach, friends, family, and employers expect immediate responses. Personal space, privacy, and down time have been invaded, and people’s personal lives are being affected. Increasing numbers of people are experiencing anxiety over this constant deluge of messages and notifications and the demands these place on people’s attention and time. Internet usage issues can possibly to problems for people causing them to lose touch with the reality around them as they try to keep up with all the distractions at their fingertips. This can lead to emotional and/or mental problems or even the breakdown of personal relationships.
Dealing with Internet Use and Our Cell Phones
Maybe this situation is relatable to you. Maybe you have experienced this yourself or have seen a friend go through it. But whether it is familiar or not, the situation of internet addiction and internet usage issues is real, and smart phones enable these problems to progress. Cell phones and their increased functional capacity will not be going away, so we have to learn how to deal with the strain they could cause.
For the children growing up in a world where there have always been the internet and cell phones, this may be even more important. Parents should help them realize their lives do not have to be ruled by these technologies, and that nothing replaces face-to-face communication and interaction. Setting up rules and boundaries for cell phone and internet use may help to set in place healthy habits that they can continue to use into adulthood.
But for all people’s best intentions, they or their children can develop dependencies on their phones or the internet. When this happens, seeking help may be the answer and can aid a person in changing bad habits while also helping him cope with any emotional issues. Many options exist. For some, maybe a weekend away from technology is all they need. For people who recognize a bigger problem, treatment centers offer the time and support necessary to assist in recovery.
One example is wilderness therapy. For adolescents and young adults, this can be incredibly helpful. Wilderness therapy offers a hybrid therapeutic model that incorporates outdoor treatment as well and traditional residential therapy. Structured outdoor activities that require responsibility and accountability have shown to build life skills and a sense of self. Trained doctors, therapists, and psychologists provide participants with support and the skills and information to deal with their emotions, stress, etc., that can develop due to internet addiction or other issues.
It is all about finding a healthy balance with the realities of today.