In the recent times, internet addiction has become a widespread problem among young people residing in the Western world. While the internet serves as a fundamental resource in providing its users with endless information and entertainment, it seems to have taken charge of the daily lives of its users. Rather than spending their time engaging in vigorous outdoor activities and catching up with their friends and family, more and more people are becoming attached to the internet as a mode of communication and socialization. The tendency has resulted in people becoming less sociable as they depend on the internet to communicate with others, hence perceiving face-to-face interactions as too tiresome and unnecessary. As more and more young people embrace the virtual life, a tremendous surge in incidences of internet addiction in the contemporary world today has taken place.
Similar to any other form of substance dependency, internet addiction exposes people to numerous risks. Firstly, Young (2015) states that most of the teenagers dependant on the internet express internet addictive behavior (IAB). The problem appears to be more prevalent amongst older adolescents, boys, and youths whose parents did not attain a college education. At the same time, these individuals are more inclined to engage in other addictive behaviors, such as gaming, gambling, and social networking, which results in them spending too much time on the internet that would otherwise have been used to study and complete their school assignments (Flora, 2014). Secondly, internet addiction leads the young people to develop high-risk behaviors. For example, the adolescents who use the internet are more likely to communicate with strangers online. Since some individuals may not be aware of the dangerous nature of such interactions, they are capable of sharing private information online including their social security number and physical address. Furthermore, they might secretly see the people they met online. Thirdly, internet addiction increases the possibility of the young people being exposed to sexual images and gambling. Youths that spend too much time on the internet are likely to come across internet sites containing sexual images and links to gaming sites. In the end, individuals are bound to be exposed to risks that might have negative impacts on them for the rest of their lives.
Given the extensive adverse influences of internet addiction, the reasons why a considerable majority of the youth are attracted to the internet should be considered. Miller (2013) stipulates that the internet provides young people with a platform where they can get answers to questions and topics that they may be too embarrassed to discuss with the adults. The anonymity makes their lives easier by allowing them to feel empowered through being knowledgeable and gaining positive online encounters. Moreover, the internet helps them to attain fast and updated information through social media and online news resources, which allows them to feel in touch with the rest of the world (Miller, 2013). Most importantly, social media lets them keep in touch with their friends and family, and to have fun through exploring various digital pathways. Unfortunately, these reasons often result in their massive dependence on the internet as they constantly seek for instant gratification from social media and other online sites whenever they have any moments to spare. In the end, they end up becoming addicted to an avenue that initially provided them with an escape from their unexciting day to day lives.
Opponents of this stance argue that the internet is an instrumental part of present-day living. They argue saying that the internet has facilitated better communication and improved relations among people irrespective of the physical distance between them. While all this is true, the opponents fail to take into consideration the massive adverse impacts that are attributed to internet addiction. Even though the young people use the internet for entertainment and learning purposes, there is no denying that their dependence on the internet makes them vulnerable to other forms of addictive behaviors (Flora, 2014). By spending too much time on the internet, they are likely to be exposed to other forms of problematic internet use including online gaming, gambling, cyberbullying, and cybercrime.
To sum up, the rise of the internet has resulted in the emergence of internet addictive behaviors among the young people. For example, the internet addiction exposes its dependents to numerous risks. The adolescents who use the internet are highly susceptible to communicating with strangers that they meet online. On the other hand, the internet provides young people with an avenue from which they can get answers to questions and topics that they may be too uncomfortable to discuss with the adults and allowing them to feel empowered through being knowledgeable and gaining positive online encounters. Despite its advantages, there is no denying that internet addiction sets the pace for the young people to adopt other problematic forms of internet usage that might have a lasting impact on their lives. Therefore, people should be aware of the risks and keep the internet as a useful tool, not an idol.
Flora, K. (2014). Chapter 10: Internet addiction disorder among adolescents and young adults: The picture in Europe and prevention strategies. Perspectives on Youth, 119-132.
Miller, P. (2013). A year offline: What I have learned. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trVzyG4zFMU.
Young, K. (2015). What you need to know about internet addiction. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOSYmLER664.
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