As anyone 30 years of age or older can attest, a lot about how we live life has changed, and we could list a multitude of examples. Let’s keep it simple: Think about the internet and recall what life was like just over 20 years ago. Yeah. Phones were still attached to the walls, and phone lines were just for phone calls. Personal computers were a luxury. By the end of the millennium, advancements in technology and production were already helping to make computers smaller, more affordable, more powerful, and more commonplace. And as computer systems technology improved, so did the technology that gave us cell phones.
All the while, the World Wide Web was being developed and would revolutionize computers and phones once again. People once marveled that a house’s telephone land line could connect them to the internet, but now people get frustrated when their “smart phones” don’t upload webpages quickly enough as they drive to work.
In a relatively short period of time, the internet became mobile. Now people use cell phones for more than phones calls and text messages; they can surf the web anytime and anywhere just by turning on their smart phones. Thanks to technology and internet access, phones now ring for every new email, social media posts, sports updates, and when it’s time to make a play in an online game, etc.
Because of this, many people have developed the habit of compulsively and perhaps even obsessively checking their phones no matter where they are or the situation. Ask yourself, when you receive a new message, do you automatically check your phone? Have you ever looked at your phone thinking you got a new message only to find you were mistaken? Have you ever done this while driving? Most people could probably answer “yes” to all of these – even though laws now restrict cell phone usage while driving.
These developments mean it may be more important than ever to teach people at a young age to manage their online usage properly. People can get lost in surfing the web and interacting on social media when at their computers, which could possibly lead to an internet addiction. Smart phones can become another avenue for this addiction.
Today many teenagers – even some young children – have their own computers and cell phones. Habits – good or bad – are built over time, and healthy internet habits become of paramount importance as teenagers learn and begin to drive. New, inexperienced drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident than older, more experienced drivers. Add in a person that is used to checking his phone at any notification, and he may be likely to look at and try to respond to the message while driving – laws notwithstanding. It can be nerve-wracking for any parent as her young child attains a license and is on his own, but the added distraction of cell phones can make the new experience more dangerous.
Of course smart phones can be extremely handy. For example, phones’ GPS capability means people can simply type in a destination and let their phone tell them the way. However, this helpful tool becomes less helpful if a person has to glance down to look at their phone. Set teenagers up for success by adding hands-free accessories, like a device that attaches or the windshield or dashboard at eye level.
Internet Addiction and How to Cope
While anyone can fall prey to the feeling or need to check one’s cell phone, an internet addiction increases the potential for danger. We know we should not use our cell phones while driving, yet we may do it anyway. Someone with an internet addiction feels a constant need to stay connected as his or her sense of self can become intertwined with an online persona, and this may override common sense more than it might for others.
Internet addiction or internet usage issues can cause a person to lose sleep, have headaches, withdraw from normal social and extracurricular activities, become depressed, etc. Growing up has never been easy, but today’s youth are experiencing stress levels like never before from a growing number of sources: social media, TV, advertising. If a young person in your life is struggling and talking has not been effective, seeking professional help or a wellness and treatment center may be an option. At a wellness facility, participants’ mental, emotional, and physical health are all taken into account with an integrated program. Learning life skills can help adolescents and young adults grow into healthy, balanced adults who are more self-aware and make better decisions – whether or not they are behind the wheel.