We live in a world where a day doesn’t pass by without people checking in on their various social media accounts. Everywhere you look, everyone is holding a phone (usually a smartphone) in their hands and their whole world revolves around it. Some even show off a different online persona than who they really are in real life, leaving everyone confused even themselves.
And as such, has its pros and cons. The dangers of too much tech, Internet use and the obsession with social media may not be obvious at first but they are there – slowly affecting the way you think and see things, even that of your priorities.
Amid an opioid epidemic, the rise of deadly synthetic drugs and the widening legalization of marijuana, a curious bright spot has emerged in the youth drug culture: American teenagers are growing less likely to try or regularly use drugs, including alcohol.
With minor fits and starts, the trend has been building for a decade, with no clear understanding as to why. Some experts theorize that falling cigarette-smoking rates are cutting into a key gateway to drugs, or that antidrug education campaigns, long a largely failed enterprise, have finally taken hold.
But researchers are starting to ponder an intriguing question: Are teenagers using drugs less in part because they are constantly stimulated and entertained by their computers and phones?
The possibility is worth exploring, they say, because use of smartphones and tablets has exploded over the same period that drug use has declined. This correlation does not mean that one phenomenon is causing the other, but scientists say interactive media appears to play to similar impulses as drug experimentation, including sensation-seeking and the desire for independence.
Or it might be that gadgets simply absorb a lot of time that could be used for other pursuits, including partying.
While we may think that this newfound obsession with technology isn’t as physically destructive as vices like smoking, drugs, and alcohol, the opposite is actually true. Too much technology and social media in our lives not only exposes us to harmful blue light and messes up with our sleeping patterns, it also has a damaging effect on our psyche.
The troubling practice of self-harm among young people is increasing along with their ever more widespread use of the Internet and social media, according to consultant psychiatrist for children and adolescents Dr Nigel Camilleri.
Speaking with The Malta Independent on Sunday, Dr Camilleri said: “I think self-harm has always been there but it has been more hidden. But nowadays, with social media and the Internet, there has been an increase.”
Figures published by the National Statistics Office this week show that people aged between 16 and 24, the youngest group in the study, use the Internet the most. In fact, over 98 per cent of Maltese youths were found to use the Internet.
“There is always a reason behind self-harm,” Dr Camilleri explained. “Most people do it as a coping strategy. There is a release of endorphins, so it is addictive, but then you feel guilty afterwards.”
There is too much freedom for the youth these days to browse the Internet and be exposed to sites that are not always good for them. Even the more popular ones like Facebook aren’t always free of criticisms.
When asked whether he believes growing up these days exposes young people to an avalanche of perhaps impressionable news stories that leave an impression on them, Dr Fenech observed that it would probably depend on the personality of the individual.
“There are some people who would be predisposed to a certain code of ethics, who would see violence and detest it even more. And then there will be those who have a less ethically-sound background and would thus find it more acceptable,” he said.
Anything in excess is not always good. We have been told about that time and again yet it somehow slips our mind every time and we fall into the trap of obsessing over the next big trend.
Parents should be wary about the interests of their children and exercise some form of parental guidance when necessary. Your child may hate you at first when you censor some things from them on the web but over time they will realize that it is for their own good. That is probably the best recourse to overcome the dangers of too much technology in our modern life when almost everything can be accessed with just a click of a button.
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