Unplugged and Unleashed: Finding Balance in a Digital World

Free home office video conference homework computer illustration

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay
By Sean Toutant

With the rapid growth of the internet and digital media, daily use of these technologies has become a norm in our evolving digital world. Covid 19 transformed the way we live our lives by emphasizing social media as a primary focus, leading to individuals becoming less outgoing than they otherwise would. The balance between online and offline interactions is crucial for college students to achieve their personal growth and overall well-being. We should prioritize incorporating non-digital activities, building strong friendships, and making the most of our college experience. For college students, balancing online and offline interactions is crucial for both their personal development as well as professional growth. It’s important to engage in non-traditional activities, cultivate strong bonds, and maximize the benefits of our time at college. However, with the advancements in technology, young people are spending more time connected to digital devices, which has serious health effects and implications for behavioral dependence.

In this current global pandemic, the importance of this issue has increased, and it has radically changed our way of seeing, thinking about, and doing things. The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Communication Study of Young Adults and Online Dependency in Portugal is a quantitative research study that involved 407 young university adults. The study sought to examine their use of digital media, particularly during the pandemic, and evaluate the impact of their constant internet connection on their addiction. With the onset of COVID-19, our lives have been transformed into virtual reality. As young adults became more reliant on the Internet, they experienced significant effects due to their increased dependence on technology. To understand these effects, their study utilized extensive questionnaires and surveys, gathering information from a general sample of 407 young university adults in Portugal. During the pandemic, studies indicated that internet dependence saw a significant surge. Even though academic obligations contributed to this surge, many respondents turned to the Internet for both personal and professional purposes. By embracing the internet, the separation of work, leisure pursuits, and social interactions became clear.

There were several reasons for wanting to hide on the Internet during the epidemic. The implementation of strict social distancing measures resulted in isolation and limited physical social interaction. During this period, the internet became a vital means of communication between loved ones. Online gaming, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and video calls have become indispensable tools for maintaining relationships. Additionally, the eerie and frequently distressing news cycle of the pandemic led many to turn to the carefully chosen online medium for comfort. Streaming services and YouTube were among the entertainment options that provided a break from the harsh realities of the world. Their investigation uncovered the alarming findings regarding the consequences of excessive internet usage on individuals. Numerous participants stated that they experienced various sleep difficulties, ranging from severe insomnia to disturbed sleeping habits. Their circadian rhythms were disrupted by the blue light from screens and constant online activity, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep.

In addition, respondents who went offline frequently reported negative emotional reactions such as mood swings, depression, and nervousness. A range of factors contribute to the high level of emotional awareness, including the addictive nature of social media and the need to create a flawless online identity. OMO and the anxiety of constantly being compared to others contributed significantly to these emotions. Their study, which looked at how young adults and Generation Z influenced online dependency during the COVID-19 pandemic, shows that this has been unmistakably demonstrated through research. Despite the internet’s role in providing essential services for staying connected, continuing education, and working from home, it has also become a double-edged sword. The prevalence of internet addiction is a result of its ability to provide distraction and escape from everyday life. Considering the gravity of this situation, it is imperative for individuals, schools/institutes, and governments to prioritize efforts towards digital literacy and responsible use of digital media. During the period of digital detox, individuals can take a break from screens and engage in offline activities to alleviate the negative effects of internet addiction. Also of note, parents, teachers, and mental health professionals need to be aware that young adults can identify the problem and address it through screening and treatment. This involves encouraging open dialogue about healthy internet use and promoting the importance of maintaining a balance between online and offline life.

We, as the 21st century’s young people, must acknowledge the consequences of internet addiction and its harmful effects on our lives. By taking proactive steps, we can establish a more positive connection to the internet and prevent distractions from interfering with our daily lives. So, what steps will you take to ensure that you harness the power of the internet while safeguarding your well-being and personal growth? Let’s embark on this journey together and explore the endless possibilities that await us when we maintain a harmonious balance between our online and offline worlds.