The effect of the internet on your mental, physical, and social well being.
The effects of spending too much time can affect the physiological, psychological, and sociological wellbing.
All these effects are a growing concern among many as the number of individuals who use computers at home alone is 71.7% (US Census 2011). This is up from the 50.4% (US Census 2001). If you include those who use them at work, not just at home 81% of our population currently use computers on a regular basis. That's approximately of 254,259,000 People. That's correct 254 MILLION people in the US alone.
So, In short, it can touch you in any way and its drawbacks can become quite severe and it can effect the vast majority of our nation.
To begin, we must look at the most obvious effects of computer use. The hardship put on your body. One of the lesser known physical effects is a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome, hereafter called CVS. This syndrome effects upwards of 90% of all computer users that focus on a monitor for more than 3 hours a day. Much like carpel tunnel for your joints, CVS is caused by repetitive movements of the eyes. This is because your eye must continiously focus as you read. This constant movement can lead to several issues. The list of symptoms includes blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes, irritation, and headaches. Treatments can include the use of eyedrops and a trip to the eye doctor.
Before this happens to you, try following the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes focus on something approximately 20 feet away for about 20 seconds to reduce the strain on your eyes. Also buying +1.00 to +1.50 reading glasses can assist in prevention. You can pick up a pair of these at almost any drug store.
Besides the effect it has on your eyes. Computer use can effect your skeletal system as well. Bad posture, whether standing or sitting can lead to back or joint problems. But when sitting, you are more likely not to adjust your posture as often, leading to increased effects. Following the advised posture, as provided by the picture to the right, can prevent harmful positioning. It takes time to keep good posture automatically but there are also tools that you can use to help you make a good habit. These can be seat pads, back pads, or chairs with built in lumbar support.
Remember, it's not just your back that's at risk. You can injure other joints as well. So keep your feet flat on the ground, computer monitor directly in front of you, and the keyboard in a easily accessible position. Another thing you can do to alleviate stress on your neck is by buying a desktop document holder. These keep your documents at eye level and reduces strain on the neck, which is due to looking downward.
Now we move to less than obvious effects of computer use, the effect on our mind.
The first and foremost damaging effect is Computer Addiction. This is like any other addiction in that many do not know they are dependent on it. Some of the symptoms include:
-A sense of euphoria while using a computer
-Irritation, anger when prevented from surfing the net
-The inability to log off. You keep thinking one more minute, page, mission.
-A lack of patience when waiting to get on the net
If you have any of these symptoms, or know others that do, there are support groups out there for those that are dependent on the internet. If there are none in your area, speak with a family member or use a 12 step program:
1. accept your dependency on computer use
2. Develop confidence that you can over come your addiction
3. Create a place of safety from temptation, such as a quiet room without access to a computer or smartphone.
4. Examine yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. When are you most likely to succumb to your addiction.
5. Admit to another your computer addiction, for support.
6. Make a list of goals that may be unobtainable if you continue on the path you're on.
7. Understand you are not alone in this, many others are affected the same way.
8. Remember those who's forgiveness you seek, friends you've igonored, family you haven't spoken too, etc.
9. Look at how your addiction has affected others, and attempt to set things right.
10. Admit when you're wrong,
11. Pick up new hobbies to spend your time, such as reading a book, going to the gym, or taking a class.
12. have a spiritual awaking, you've completed your steps and are on the road to breaking addiction.
Keep in mind that it may be more than a simple addiction to the internet. There are many things that can be done on a computer that can be addicting themselves. These include: Gaming, Chatting, Cybersex, and computer dating.
Another thing that excessive use of computers can use is turn a user into a hermit. Losing your grasp on what's real, you can suffer from isolation and depression. A lack of face to face conversation can turn into anti-social behavior. This is especially dangerous for developing minds, such as children or teenagers.
Paraphrasing Professor Winestine of Purdue University, an individual with a dependency on the internet will lose their social skills to communicate with others in the real world. You may not want to believe it but those vital communication traits we've been learning since infancy, can be lost due to a lack of use.
As already mentioned in the last section. Dependence on the internet can lead to isolation, depression, and anti-social behavior. This is associated with sociological issues with computer use.
An example of this is called the "Second Life Phenomenon". This is the use of social media (facebook, twitter, myspace, etc) in a way that leads to people creating a separate personality. Almost everyone can think of a time when they, or someone else, said something online they wouldn't normally say in person. This is the "Second Life". The lack of response can lead people to being bolder than they would already. Furthermore, with the lack of tone of voice, facial expressions, and body gestures, this form of communication is far simpler than actual communication. Which leads to individuals who haven't used face to face communication much (due to computer use or other factors) to forget how to behave properly, such as behaving awkwardly, saying inappropriate things, or remaining silent even among friends.
It's not all bad thought, many believe the use of the internet has increased our social interaction when prior to the development of the world wide web their could be none. This is apparent when communication is among two distant individuals. Another positive factor is bringing people together with similar hobbies, thinking, or other common interests. In fact a survey conducted by Elon University in Elon, NC, resulted in 85% of people saying they believed the positive effects of online communication outweigh the negative.
Overall the use of the internet is going to be a constant factor in our lives. It is up to each individual to use as they see fit and weigh the dangers themselves. I know I'm as guilty as, I'm sure, many others reading this article are. I use the computer for hours on end, I've been lucky that it has not effected my relationships or my health, but that may be yet to come.
I think it's important for everyone reading this to understand that if they cannot avoid the harmful effects I've mentioned, mitigate them. Also if you are a recluse who lives online. Try to help yourself, there's a beautiful world out there with endless things to see, people to meet, and experiences to have.