Posted by: healingtheworkplace | November 17, 2017

Are You Addicted to the Internet?

We’ve all seen them: people who are mindlessly glued to their mobile devices, oblivious to the world around them. When my dad was in hospital for a lengthy stay I had plenty of time to observe the goings on around me. On more than one occasion I watched a member of the cleaning staff as they checked their phone in the hallway outside my dad’s room. The corridor was in a blind spot away from the hustle and bustle and the watchful eyes of the nursing station.

At the time I remember thinking that if the cleaners spent as much time doing their work as they did checking their phones the hospital would be in a much better state of affairs. I also remember wondering how they got away with it day-after-day.

Overuse of digital media is harmful to both humans and the organizations in which they work. But who’s to blame? You might be surprised at the answer. Recently I learned that Facebook  is designed to exploit human vulnerability by distracting us and pulling us away from our current, mundane realities. Of course FB is not alone and other social media giants are also exploiting us in the much the same way.

In a recent CBC Marketplace interview, Ramsay Brown, co-founder of Dopamine Labs,  stated that his company is “moving into a new era where we aren’t just developing software but we are rewriting minds.” Using artificial intelligence (AI) and neuroscience Brown and his colleagues are actively looking for ways to make digital apps more addictive.

This overuse or addiction can be harmful in that it can lead to a myriad of health problems such as depression, insomnia, and obesity. Socially it can have a negative effect on our relationships, our school success and our careers.

In extreme cases, employees may react with irritability and anger if they are told to limit their digital media use. This is in large part because the use of technology is addictive and like any addiction we will go through withdrawals if we don’t get our “fix”.

In addition, too much time spent on the internet also interferes with our people skills and our ability to communicate with the people around us.

According to writer Royce Calhoun, “1 in 4 employees have a serious online habit.” Calhoun goes on to say that in the workplace it is difficult to determine if someone has a problem since most of us are expected to be on our devices a large part of the day.

What should employers do?

First of all you must recognize that internet addiction or i-addiction is a real or potential problem. Educate managers and staff and provide resources and tools to help people cope.

What can individuals do?

Here are a few questions for you to consider:

  • How does your current use of technology distract you or undermine your health and well-being?
  • How many times a day do you stop and check your phone for messages? You may be surprised to learn that the average person checks their phone 150 times a day.
  • How does your internet use support or get in the way of your relationships?
  • What is one action that you can take right now to help you unplug and get control of your internet use?

Take Care!




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