Internet Addiction

9780801015298_p0_v3_s260x420.JPG This is an interesting, thought-provoking, and helpful book: The Digital Invasion by Archibald Hart and Sylvia Frejd.  From a Christian perspective, this book discusses media technology (computers, smart phones, Facebook, email, etc.) and its effect on people.  Hart and Frejd’s book is not an outright attack on technology, but it is a call to be wise in a world where media technology can seriously alter a person’s life for the worst.

One section I appreciated was the one on Internet addiction.  The authors say that Internet addictions share the following four components (the same could be said for any digital addiction):

1) Excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives and duties.
2) Withdrawal symptoms, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible.
3) Tolerance, including the need for upgraded computer equipment, more software programs, and longer hours of use (for example, with drug addictions it means you have to take more and more of a drug to get the same effect.  The same is true for digital addictions – you need more and more).
4) Negative repercussions, including arguments, family abuse, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue.

Here are some of the consequences of Internet addiction:

1) The important relationships that need nurturing will increasingly be neglected.  This could result in more marriage failures, affairs, and family breakdowns (either parents neglecting their children or children avoiding their parents).
2) Loss of employment because of excessive use of the Internet for personal uses while at work.  Or, the distraction of the Internet interfering with work effectiveness.
3) Loss of sleep, where excessive use of the Internet at home and late night can lead to insomnia or just plain ‘sleep robbing.’
4) Diminished energy, not just from sleep deprivation, but also from excessive digital engagement in general.
5) Health problems associated with sitting for long periods, including eyestrain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, back aches, and obesity.
6) Internet addiction opens the pleasure-center door on a lot of other addictions, such as gambling, gaming, and pornography, as well as drugs and alcohol.

There’s much more to the discussion, obviously (I edited the above very slightly).  I realize we may sometimes joke about being an Internet junkie or a smart phone junkie, but these things can be seriously addicting in a most debilitating way.  In fact, it is something that we should pray about – pray that God would give us wisdom and self-control when it comes to our use of Internet and other media technology.

Here’s the book to get if you want wise words and counsel about this topic: Archibald Hart and Sylvia Frejd, The Digital Invasion (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013).

shane lems

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