[#yepdebate] Internet addiction: myth or reality?

For this week’s weekly youth debate, our youth ambassador Mathew provided us his view regarding the topic: Internet addiction: myth or reality?

Matthewpaneuyouth“Addiction is a rather strange word. It covers a variety of dependencies on a variety of things: Alcohol, Tobacco and lots of drugs, legal and illegal.

“But does this cover what we adolescents do online? Sure, we spend probably more time online nowadays than we do outside. Sometimes, groups of friends might meet up in a park or in a café but instead of talking to each other, they spend time on their phone and discuss recent posts by people on social networks.

“I think the introduction of social networks on mobile devices, not just the phone, has ignited this fire. As we develop our technologies and as businesses become smarter and sharper in their marketing plans, our ability to do something better improves, right? Actually, not necessarily. How many advertisements have you seen of the newest phone or tablet where the person on the ad is surfing the internet or on a social network? It’s like showing a smoker the newest, coolest packet of cigarettes. They grab our attention; by showing us not that the phone is able to make calls, but its ability to go online. Ten years ago, this was a ground breaking development. Now, we are coming to expect it.

“People have reasons for buying technology:
1) A work/education related need.
2) What they are buying looks cool/appeals to their interests.
3) The person HAS to stay up to date with the newest advancements in technology.
4) Just a “want” which develops to a definite “need”

“Number three and four are becoming more and more common as new stuff is released. Is this something to worry about? I’ll leave that to you to discuss.

“It is fairly clear to most users of social networks that some of their “friends” or “followers” spend much more time online than others. Studies in Ireland in 2012 showed that on average, teenagers aged 15-18 spent just under three hours a day online. And I’d say that it is probably a bit more for me, somewhere around 4 hours a day.

“Am I addicted? I’d rather not use that word, as it makes is seem that people who might spend a bit longer online than others are doing something bad e.g. for their health. In exceptional circumstances, this may be the case but for the majority of users they have no problems. I think the word to use is: Obsession. An obsession makes more sense when trying to explain businesses using a product’s ability to use the internet as a major marketing tool – It makes people who are obsessed listen as it has become their primary interest.

“Introducing the internet to so many things is like reinventing the wheel, and how many wheels do you see on a daily basis? Many of us are obsessed with the internet, maybe even myself. Is this a bad thing? Again, I’ll let you discuss that.”

Follow the debate at #yepdebate

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