By Casandra Nguyen, '15
Dr. Kimberly Young has been looking deeply into Internet addiction since the days of AOL chatrooms. She was the first to identify Internet addiction and its impact on our children, families and culture.
Young, a professor at St. Bonaventure University and licensed psychologist, was invited to speak at TEDxBuffalo, a branch of TED talks. She has been researching and gathering her studies since 1995. Her talk, “What You Need to Know About Internet Addiction,” was among 12 other speakers’ talks in the “Ideas Worth Spreading” TedxBuffalo 2014.
With the rise in technology and web-connected devices, it makes one question how much is too much time online?
“What we often see is people preoccupied with their cellphones and digital devices,” said Young. “Ask yourself, how many times do you check your smartphone during the day?”
Twitter, Facebook and even in-app games, such as Candy Crush Saga, are taking over lives and people are living through a small screen. Young makes a point that not only is it taking a toll on lives socially, but it is also getting to the point where lives are being put in danger.
“I work with people that have gotten into three, four, five car accidents texting while driving,” said Young. “Thank God they didn’t kill themselves or others, but they can’t seem to stop the compulsive behavior.”
Currently, 44 states have texting bans while driving. Despite the driving laws, people still take the risk and operate motor vehicles with one hand and text with the other. Safety laws are neglected, and accidents happen daily.
Technology takes away the distance barrier when it comes to communication. Instead of waiting days for a letter to be delivered or taking the time to meet up with friends and family, we send emails or texts to stay connected. Few people see Internet addiction as a growing epidemic; instead, they see it as a way to keep in touch through social media outlets and emails.
“The issue with Internet connection is that it is getting bigger,” said Young. “Nobody can stay away from their phones. We’re all too connected, and we need to be more present with people.”
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