The Internet is a technical equipment that has the power to change the social structure and also in a positive sense develop it. The Internet has become a daily requirement of everybody, as we now have easy access to a broad area of information, research on education, entertainment and avenues that can be used to communicate.
The number of internet users is increasing daily. The effects of internet have become questionable over a period of time. According to the latest statistics, 49.7% of world population regularly uses the internet. This figure was only 1% in 1995. A 55.2% of internet users in the world are living in Asia, surprisingly. Global statistics regarding the internet have revealed that the number of users in Sri Lanka has increased by a considerable amount. The overall population in Sri Lanka is 21 Million, while there are over 6.6 Million internet users, representing 31.6% of the whole population.
Internet usage has increased due to its’ usefulness. It has developed to be a “bad addiction” and now causes mental confusion in some users. Exceeding the healthy limits by being overly enthusiastic is making it an “addiction”. Surfing through websites for hours, engaging in social media activities for longer periods or playing online games are the common examples of addiction.
According to the experiments done by various researchers all around the world, it has been revealed that internet addiction is most common with girls and boys who fall in to the age group between 16 - 24 years. These users are glued to the internet in search of information technology, entertainment and professional development. Therefore, the internet has become an essential part in the lives of school and university students alike. When entering puberty, they go through a number of changes mentally and physically. Add to this, they also experience challenges in their personal and social lives. The long held close relationships with their peers and parents evolve into different levels. We also observe that some of these internet users remain lonely most of the time. Faced with competitive challenges coupled with the need to find employment and be independent have made teen girls and boys victims of depression, anxiety and stress. Therefore, to get rid of those unpleasant feelings, teenagers sink their minds in the internet, making it an addiction.
Signs of addiction
- Forgetting basic human needs such as food and sleep, being unconscious about time and lack of sanity are signs that the internet is being used unnecessarily.
- Showing signs of depression, stress and anxiety are other signs that the internet user has stepped over the limit.
- Buying new tech equipment and software regularly or spending more time in using the computer is search of satisfaction are signs to be concerned about.
- Have recognizable negative traits such as lost interest in real and face to face social activities, weaker performance in school and exams as well as escaping from the society indicate internet addiction.
Internet addiction threatens the physical, mental and social well-being of a person while paving the way for an inactive and indolent lifestyle. Such internet users are often inactive, get fatter, lack physical fitness, experience a loss of sanity and are sleepless at night. According to researchers, internet addiction contributes to mental issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, problems in marriage and family life, poor performances in education, missing job responsibilities and having a refrained social life.
Many countries in the world have carried out numerous experiments on what triggers internet addiction and its effects. However, Sri Lanka has done only little research regarding this. It’s revealed from a research conducted using the students of university of Peradeniya, that internet addiction can lead to depression and solitude while crippling a healthy lifestyle. A similar result of a weakened performance in studies was revealed in a research done by the University of Sri Jayawardenepura, where its own students were used.
The researchers suggest tips to prevent internet addiction.
Introduce a new timetable to an internet addict by aiming to limit the surfing time on the net.
Pre-planning the work, duties, and responsibilities of the addict and inspiring him to stick to the schedule.
List everything the addict missed doing, after starting to indulge on the internet, for self-realization. That ultimately will lead the person to use the internet with self - discipline.
Ask for assistance from family and friends to get rid of internet dependence.
Obtain counselling services for already addicted people.
Organize awareness programmes aiming the student community, parents and youth.
It’s our responsibility to use the internet wisely, as well as alert the youth to guard themselves against becoming victims of the “global net”. This will benefit all.