'Digital detox' urged to combat internet and social-media addiction

Therapists are seeing an increase in internet and social media addiction in Ireland, it was revealed today.

'Digital detox' urged to combat internet and social-media addiction

Therapists are seeing an increase in internet and social media addiction in Ireland, it was revealed today.

According to the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP), increasing numbers of people are losing control of the amount of time that they spend online.

“Being connected to friends and business associates has clear benefits, but many people, especially young people, find the desire to use Facebook or Twitter so strong that it’s affecting their personal relationships, their studies and often their jobs,” said Shane Kelly, professional services manager with the IACP.

“Many people find it impossible to put down their mobile even when having a meal with friends, attending a meeting or while out on a first date.”

The IACP warned that due to the easy access of the internet via mobile devices that social media and internet addiction can be very difficult to control, especially as it seems like a far less harmful pursuit than using drugs or nicotine.

However, the association added that internet addiction is time-consuming and can lead to empty lives as meaningful interactions are replaced by superficial interactions.

Mr Kelly added: “Studies have shown that people with high usage of social media sites may have lower levels of self-esteem and have a higher incidence of depression.”

IACP advises that internet users who are concerned about the amount of time that they spend online assess whether or not they have an addiction problem.

“These are similar for tackling any addiction and involve changing your environment and creating boundaries and alternatives in relation to your internet usage,” Mr Kelly said.

He added that it would be helpful to tell friends and family about a planned ‘digital detox’.

“As with all addictions, coming to terms with an internet addiction can be very challenging, but counselling and psychotherapy can help,” Mr Kelly added.

“It’s best to become aware of any potential addiction and take action to stop it before it takes hold.”

The IACP also pointed out that Facebook users should use the ‘Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale’ to determine whether they suffer from an addiction to the social media platform.

Participants must give one of these responses to each: (1) Very rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Very often:

* You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or planning how to use it.

* You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.

* You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.

* You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.

* You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.

* You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

According to the system, if you answer "often" or "very often" on four or more questions, you may be addicted to Facebook.

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