Imagine an innocent man who was killed by local thugs as he tried to protect a nearby orphanage. Also imagine that in twenty-four hours after this event, that orphanage received $80,000; enough to buy a security wall, purchase bunk beds, and start a fund for paying off the debts. All of this happened—because of the internet. As soon as the event had occurred, members of a Reddit forum shared the scenario and started a fund for only $2,000 for the orphanage, which online users surpassed by a large amount (Harness). At the same time, the internet has its negative effects, especially concerning the mental health of its users. Ryan, a 19-year-old, was failing college. His relationships floundered, and he was missing his classes. All this began from his internet gaming addiction. Unable to control himself, Ryan joined a recovery program to help stop his addiction. While he was able to lessen the addiction, he found that many denied the issue was valid convinced that addicts could simply turn off their computer (Hallowell). Even while the internet has its positive influence, the internet increases communication, mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety. and addiction, have increasingly become a problem because of the internet. Due to the internet’s adverse influence on mental health issues such as addiction, anxiety, and social issues, it is essential that the government funds technology education and efforts to increase community awareness to combat the correlated global suicide and depression rates.
Having had the internet play a role during their childhood, people increase their likelihood of internet addiction. Despite having these increased cases of mental health issues, users are largely unaware of the internet’s deleterious effects on mental health. According to “Technology in 2017”, addiction to the internet is an issue, especially in the younger population, from adolescents to young adults, as they are brought up with the internet. A survey of 1,240 teens indicated that fifty percent of teens believe that they are addicted to the internet (Wallace). While teens are likely to under-report whether addiction, the larger and actual issue is availability of the internet. Since the internet was first published in 1983, increasing numbers of people have used it. Even more significantly, the internet is strongly correlated with depression and suicide rates. According to one study, it was identified that Facebook users felt “less happy, with the use of the social platform possibly to blame” (Bradley University). Attachment to an internet service has led people to feel less happy than they should be feeling. With the shocking rise in 11 to 12-year-olds from 20% in 2010 to 56% in 2015, the prevalence of internet usage influences these symptoms through its strong correlation to mental health between them (Gilber). As they worry about possible outcomes, Dr. Pantic, who carries a Psy.D., claims, “…due to the popularity of these online services in the general population, any future confirmed connection between them and psychiatric diseases would pose a serious public health concern.” As stated before, the internet has many users and finding a solution to issues would be extremely beneficial to the people. Of all these issues that occur, awareness is the biggest problem. A digital correspondent who writes about family, Wallace accounts, “And, while Internet addiction is viewed as a public health threat in other parts of the world, it is not yet a recognized disorder in the United States.” If governments are not able to identify the problem, there is no way that this issue can be solved. It is their responsibility to increase awareness of the issue to allow for better results among the population. Increased awareness of these mental problems is important with the growing amount of internet users.
Moreover, the assertion that the unmanaged use of internet is one of the leading reasons for internet mental health issues is true. Uncontrolled usage has negative social effects as Dr. Geher, a psychology professor for the State University of New York, states, “In short, it’s much easier for kids to be mean to one another than it ever has been before in human history – thanks to the internet. And hurtful social outcomes can, without question, have substantive consequences regarding mental health.” The internet serves as a mask of anonymity for online bullies, who have always decreased the mental status of their victims, translating into the digital world.
By constantly observing the life of other people, users may feel pressured to live by another standard. While observing other social media users, people may feel that they cannot be like the popular figures, affecting how they view themselves. Using the internet takes time from the outside world as the user “lives” in this other world (Geher). It takes valuable time for people to spend outside and experience the world, drastically influencing physical social networking by negating these interactions.
Through these misuses of the internet, many people become addicted to it, which has negative effects on their life. First, addiction can cause relationships to deteriorate, which Dr. Young, a psychiatrist specialist who founded the Center for Internet Addiction in 1995, has done several studies and researches concerning the issue of addiction. People begin to prioritize the wrong things because of finding an interest in the internet. This also expands to marriages as they become absorbed to the internet. Dr. Young describes a typical case study in which, “…one mother forgot such things as to pick up her children after school, to make them dinner, and to put them to bed because she became so absorbed in her Internet use.” The addiction distracts people from actual tasks that they have been assigned, as the case of the mother. Instead of caring for her children, her internet use overwhelmed her to a point where her task was unfinished.
Secondly, academics are negatively affected as a result of the time spent on the internet. A study showed that people with average SAT scores did not graduate school as they also had daily “late night log-ons” on their computer (Young). The addiction to use the internet every single night negatively impacted school grades. These students did not lack knowledge, but had their time invested into their addiction, which impacted their academics. The problem also flows to the workspace as workers can waste their time and decrease their productivity by using the internet (Young).
Overall, the addiction of the internet has the ability to impact all aspects of one’s life from effective use of one’s time to social interactions. The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery center confirms, “Individuals suffering from Internet addiction spend more time in solitary seclusion, spend less time with real people in their lives, and are often viewed as socially awkward. Arguments may result due to the volume of time spent on-line.” The center agrees with doctor Young on impacts of addiction on behavior—internet addiction leads to negative behavior. Internet addiction is like a drug addiction as “[t]olerance is another hallmark of alcohol and drug addiction and seems to be applicable to Internet addiction as well. This can be understood as wanting—and from the user’s point of view, needing—more and more computer-related stimulation. A psychologist with experience in addiction, Hartney claims, “The internet addictions can be very similar to the use of drugs as they also give these withdrawal symptoms.” Both addictions are similar in the aspect that they both have similar implications like withdrawal. While some may think that these are small, they have large negative implications, like drugs, and should be solved. Additionally, social issues and depression are other mental issues that come from internet use. People are more aware of the rest of the world through globalization of communication rather than their surrounding with the internet (Marleen and Volker). Marleen and Volker, researchers of the social impacts of the internet, have also identified a decrease in the number of social gatherings. Another world is created by the internet and the user stays in this other world, leaving the real world they live in. The internet also plays a role in depression. Studies from Piedmont Healthcare indicate, “When we get on social media, we are looking for affirmation and consciously or not, we are comparing our life to the lives of others…As a result, we may not enjoy what’s in the moment” (“How the Internet affects your mental health”). The internet puts forth this idea that people must be like who they see, making the user feel bad about themselves, which can lead to depression. Mental health issues that result from the internet have devastating effects on the people, who should be aware of these effects.
To combat the presence of this threat and reduce it, there are actions that the public can take to make themselves aware of the problem. Abstinence from problematic uses is one solution (Cash). If one can identify that problems that occur from using the internet, they can stop the negative effects that result from the internet. Just stopping what seems to be the problem at an early stage can be a controllable solution. Talking to others, such as medical doctors or group therapies, about addiction is another way to be aware of one’s problems and can provide another solution to the problem (Pikes Peak). Consequently, these presented solutions are not enough for people to witness a widespread solution to addiction and other mental health issues.
Due to the effects of addiction, it is essential that government funds technology education and community awareness to combat the correlated global suicide and depression rates. It is the government’s responsibility to increase the awareness of these problems to the public. The definition of public investment is, “…spending on human capital such as education and health spending, or financial investments by government institutions such as sovereign wealth funds” (Miller and Shakira). By this definition of public investment, it is part of the government’s duty to fund education pertaining to the increase in awareness of internet misuse. Similar government action has worked in the past. Multiple policies have been created to support the education of AIDS during the AIDS epidemic in America (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). By having this education system present, the issue has been remedied. Education continued as schools were required to teach their students about AIDS. When crime continued to be a big issue, the U.S. Department of Justice declared, “A public awareness and education project is a great way to highlight the need for crime prevention in your community” (U.S. Department of Justice). By supporting public education and providing funds, crime has gone down, “By ’s end, the homicide rate plunged 42 percent nationwide. Violent crime decreased by one-third” (Ford). Educating people to stop crime, and therefore not become criminals, is an effective solution. The U.S. Department of Education has a list of efforts of how to educate students about opioids in order to deal with the Opioid Crisis (U.S. Department of Education). Schools are currently maintaining these efforts to decrease the opioid epidemic, as these efforts have worked in the past. As the presented issues have been solved through the education of the people, the effects of Internet misuse should also be educated to the public. The government has the most authority as it has educated the people in the past and can do so in the future. Funds granted should go towards the treatment of internet health issues like a disease, widespread education, and the increased awareness of internet addiction.
The issue is becoming a prominent one as more of the younger population endures addiction, which may lead to anxiety, social issues, and depression. Through education programs, people will know about the risks that come with using the internet. While some may think that the government is already taking actions by addressing mental health as an individual topic, these actions are not enough to solve the problem of the internet’s influence, indicating the need for internet addiction to be regarded as a separate issue. For those who do not believe in fixing illnesses, they must realize that this one has been created by the internet and can influence a large quantity of people. In addition, while the public may also see the problem as one that is small, it is important to keep in mind of the negative effects that it has created. The large suicide and depression rates as well as the cases of addiction indicate that it does affect people to a substantial degree. Given these effects of addiction, the government needs to act through enabling technology education to the public.
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