For the record, I'm not judging. In fact it appears that I am somewhere on the Internet-addiction scale and could afford to put the phone down more often and focus on other things, like living my life vs. watching it fly by on a little screen.
According to new research out of the UK (University of Surrey) young adults in the US were spending 28.5 hours on their smartphones weekly in 2020. Which is problematic, since a mountain of peer-reviewed research suggests that too much time online is detrimental to our well-being, especially among young people, and time spent posting, scrolling and trolling continues to grow each year.
According to StudyFinds there are 5 categories of internet users, and I was curious to see where I was on the list:
Casual Users (14.86%): These people mainly go online for specific tasks and log off without lingering. They show no signs of addiction and generally sway older (average age: 33.4 years-old).
Initial Users (22.86%): This group often finds themselves online longer than they initially planned, and sometimes neglect household chores, but don’t consider themselves addicted.
Experimenters (21.98%): This group feels uneasy or anxious when not connected to the internet. Once online, they feel much better.
Addicts-in-Denial (17.96%): These individuals display addictive behaviors like forming new relationships online or neglecting real-world responsibilities in favor of staying online. (note to self: I'm pretty sure I'm an addict-in-denial, although at least I recognize I may have a potential problem).
Addicts (22.36%): This cohort openly acknowledges that they are addicted to the internet and recognize its negative impact on their lives. They are the most confident at using new apps and technology.
A legit way to pass the time? Maybe not. Research shows that too much time on our computers, tablets and phones can be bad for our privacy (security threats), our relationships, and our mental health, increasing the potential for anxiety and depression. We can easily be exposed to toxic content and cyber-bullying as well.
So what do we do? That's above my paygrade, but step one is acknowledging there's a problem. If you believe you may have a problem there are counselors and therapy that can help. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) offers free help at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Just don't go scrolling for answers on your phone.