Nobody would argue the fact that the Internet has changed the way we live our lives. One area that has really been affected is social relationships. Instead of going out for coffee to catch up, we can send a message via Facebook. Time spent talking on the phone has been replaced with texting and instant messaging. And, with the addition of smart phones into our lives, we can view live news feeds and stay connected in real time no matter where we go.
While some of these changes have been undeniably good, like a fabulous chocolate cake – if you eat too much of it, there are negative repercussions. A study conducted by Stanford University in 2006 revealed that those exhibiting typical behavior associated with Internet abuse were as high as one in eight. And, consequences of Internet addiction are not unlike that of other substance abuse addictions.
Just because Internet abuse is legal, doesn’t mean it’s safe or healthy. Many couples have gotten divorced because of Internet addiction. Families have been torn apart. People have lost their jobs. The stronghold of Internet addiction is not to be ignored. Other physical symptoms of Internet addition include sleep loss, back pain, eye strain and carpal tunnel.
Facebook in particular has had a profound impact on personal relationships. Boasting approximately 500 million users, the social media website has become one of the most popular ways for friends and family to keep in touch. In fact, it has also helped us coin the term “Facebook stalking.”
For one Cleveland woman, Lynn France, Facebook stalking turned into a nightmare when she suspected her husband was cheating. What she found was that her husband had been leading a double life. She did a search on his apparent mistress and stumbled across photos of the mistress and her husband getting married at Disney World in Florida. France and her husband were still together at the time.
Others account how Facebook addictions have destroyed their marriages because one spouse spent too much time online in a fantasy world verses investing time in the marriage. It can also pave the way for emotional and physical infidelity as unhappy partners seek communication online with others. TheTechJournal.com reports that the number of divorces citing Facebook involvement is on the rise. A March article published at the site entitled, “Facebook is the new cause of divorce,” claims that some divorce attorneys are seeing Facebook referenced in as many as 20 percent of their cases.
A new study by the consumer electronics website Retrevo sought to determine just how obsessed people have become with social media websites. They polled 1000 Americans and discovered that almost half admitted to updating their Facebook or Twitter status during the night or first thing in the morning upon waking. About 28 percent of iPhone users confessed to checking these sites before they even got out of bed.
While not everyone using these social media platforms is addicted, they clearly can be a cause for concern. If time spent on Facebook or Twitter is interfering with your normal everyday life or if you are spending several hours a day online checking these sites, you might have a problem. Support groups such as netaddiction.com can offer help. Setting limits and boundaries for time spent online may also help keep your real life personal relationships intact.