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Digital addiction going viral

Lily Murphy

A child intently plays an online game on her laptop. Online games have the potential to appear to be a higher priority than they should be, and they should be considered a case of digital addiction.

Saijleen Chawla, Starr's Mill High School

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It has become less common for a person to spend daily activities outside a phone or computer, and such exposure is starting to bring about a new problem called “digital addiction.”

I viewed “Screenagers,” a film about the growing influence of technology, and its potential to become something uncontrollable.  Afterward, I sat down with Clayton State University professor Mary Hollowell to discuss the documentary and how it is the beginning of the fight against technological dependence.

According to the “Screenagers” trailer, “[Teenagers] spend on average six and a half hours per day on a screen.” Gradually, but inevitably, this number may increase, and if it gets too high, it could become something informally called “digital addiction.” The documentary “Screenagers” addresses this issue during its early stage and serves as the start of a movement to fight the grasp of technology on today’s generation.

It cannot be denied that technology has definitely enhanced the quality of life. The aid of technology has raised expectations for the future. However, there are situations where technology has stripped teenagers of their futures. On Oct. 12, 2012, a teenager named Amanda Todd sank into depression and committed suicide due to cyberbullying. Laws are now being made to prevent such happenings on social media.

There is no law preventing social media from raising expectations to beyond approachable and making them look easier said than done. For instance, the flower crown filter on Snapchat, as harmless and cute as it seems, causes the image of its user to be warped in front of the camera and inferior in front of the mirror. It suggests that these teenagers require photoshop and other technological enhancements to feel as if they are beautiful.  Because the filter makes them feel prettier than they think they are, their self-esteem diminishes.

Actress Lena Dunham agrees and has refused to allow magazines to photoshop her pictures to make her look like someone she isn’t. It is easy to deny what one really looks like to be what they wish to be through the internet.  Because society has defined beauty as validation, the craving of it turns into addiction.

Another way of providing counterfeit validation to teenagers is to make them feel accomplished. Online games are an easy way to stimulate a child’s brain and make them feel proud of their achievements inside a game. They feel so accomplished in their online game to the point where they begin neglecting other important activities in their life. In extreme cases, it can be sleeping, maintaining general hygiene, and even eating. Their game appears to be the highest priority with no exceptions.

The addiction to social media and internet has been given the term “digital addiction.” However, searching the term “Digital Addiction” on the American Psychological Association website shows that it is not considered a mental condition.

Many students and personnel at Starr’s Mill believe that it should be considered as something that can be diagnosed and treated.

“Digital addiction affects the state of millions of people by altering their consciousness and perception,” psychology teacher Sean Hickey said.

Being digitally dependent on something can cause the same changes in the brain as abusing drugs or alcohol does.

Students at the Mill have, at best, a vague idea of what digital addiction is.

“It is the inability to detach oneself from their technology,” freshman Audrey Daniel said.

But once it was explained, some agreed that it has the potential to become a serious issue. “When it reaches a certain point, it should be diagnosable,” freshman Riley Jones said.

Other students disagreed with the idea that digital addiction should be a diagnosable mental condition.

“It is too objectified to be diagnosed,” junior Katie Kojali said.

Media center specialist Rick Wright had a different way of looking at this issue. “There needs to be a longitudinal study to prove this,” Wright said.

Technology has proven to be very beneficial to the human race, and it will take a lot of time to come up with enough valid evidence that highlights its disadvantages. Because there is not enough investigation of digital addiction, there is also not enough awareness being spread.

There are actions being taken to help spread awareness. There was a free screening of “Screenagers” on Nov. 8 at Starr’s Mill High School. There were more free screenings being hosted at other Fayette County areas, such as McIntosh High School and Sam’s Auditorium.

These screenings will help parents and students of Fayette County consider how safe their technological habits really are. Everyone is at a risk of digital addiction for it is interwoven into our lives. Though, it has made them easier to live, the only way to prevent digital addiction is to raise awareness.

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