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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

OPINION: Finding the Digital Balance

We are students of a digital age; we have Canvas, ebooks and online courses all in addition to our recreational technologies.

But what’s the difference between being good students and having a problem?

Surveys and studies have been conducted and confirmed the existence of a correlation between Internet use and addictive behaviors. Those who were introverted were more closely tied to symptoms such as loss of control while gaming.

Loss of control is a symptom that poses a particular risk to students, who must already divide so much of their attention among different classes, work, relationships and other responsibilities.

The reSTART center in Fall City, Washington, lists the following as some of the symptoms of addiction, specifically to Internet gaming:

“Neglecting friends and family, being dishonest with others and feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious or depressed as a result of behavior.”

Students should take special care to remain vigilant for such symptoms. We have classes, homework and exams — we can’t afford to let ourselves fall into unhealthy habits.

It’s hard enough just keeping up with all that and still maintaining relationships with friends and family. Subtract even more hours for gaming or sifting through pages on Facebook and something is going to start to slip.

But there are solutions to potential overuse of digital media. Professional treatment centers have been established around the world to help beat online addictions.

Sometimes it can even be helpful just talking about it. That’s where Western’s Counseling Center can come in handy.

Anxiety, depression and other symptoms may be responsible for compulsions to abuse technology. Therefore, it’s important to work through your own personal experiences to find the potential culprit.

There are undoubtedly those who struggle so much with overusing technology that they can be called addicts. But for some, extreme levels of digital stimulation seem to have less of an effect.

Some students manage to stay plugged in almost constantly and still maintain their grades and social lives. For some, that technology is even a requirement for school or work — just ask anyone in the journalism department.

There’s a level of productivity technology has made possible during our generation. When else in time has it been possible to communicate with multiple people simultaneously while also writing out an assignment and listening to music?

It’s a phenomenon we’ve grown up with. We’ve become accustomed to dividing our attention between many different outlets at the same time. The world has changed around us and we’ve adapted.

So, the question of when to draw the line becomes more of a matter of personal tolerance. Some reach that point where technology starts deteriorating their mental, emotional and physical health before others do.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Life is all about finding your own balance and doing what’s going to keep you happy and healthy.

So don’t be afraid of playing a few Call of Duty levels after class or watching a Netflix show while you do your homework. As long as you know yourself well enough to know your limits, you’ll be fine.

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