One of the biggest consequences of internet addiction can be the toll it takes on academic performance. Especially as technology is becoming integrated into classrooms, it can be hard to separate time spent online studying and time spent scrolling. While staying up late to play video games or snapchatting friends during class may have been more acceptable during high school, as they enter young adulthood, these internet habits can interfere with other areas of their lives. In particular, many college students recognize the extent of their internet addiction when it gets in the way of their study skills.
What Exactly is Internet Addiction?
Our definition of Internet Addiction has been adapted from the World Health Organization’s criteria for Video Game Addiction. This suggests that signs of technology addiction are similar to any other kind of behavioral addiction and should be treated as such, rather than as a problem with abusing the privilege of technology. Excessive technology use may be the first indicator that your teen may be struggling with technology addiction, but it is not necessarily the defining characteristic. Between endless scrolling, comparing oneself to others, fear of missing out, and escaping into a virtual world, technology addiction can affect teen’s mental health in a variety of ways.
Signs of Internet Addiction
- Impaired control over technology use (frequency, intensity, duration)
- Increased priority given to technology over other interests
- Continuation or escalation of technology use despite negative consequences
- Increased interpersonal conflict or social withdrawal
- Distress when access to technology is limited
It’s easier to understand how technology can be addictive if you replace the word technology with substance in the definition above. Like other process addictions, internet addiction is a result of the way many young adults have tried to cope with depression or anxiety.
How Can It Affect Academics?
Technology can be used as a tool for studying, but it can also serve as a distraction from developing solid study habits. Studies suggest that even the presence of a smartphone can affect cognitive processing when trying to complete other tasks.
Internet addiction has been shown to impair a range of abilities such as impulse control, planning, and sensitivity to rewards. A lack of ability in these areas could well make study harder.
A different study found that students who use digital technology “excessively” are less motivated to engage with their studies, and are more anxious about tests. The study also found that internet addiction was associated with loneliness and that this loneliness made study harder.
Study Tips for College Students
- Put your phone on do not disturb. There are ways to self-monitor personal screen time without it feeling punitive. Some young adults opt to track their data usage from their device or through their phone company, while others monitor their technology use by making weekly schedules with time carved out or analyzing how they spend their leisure time. Turning off notifications, ringtones, or putting it on do not disturb altogether during activities where they want to unplug can help them set boundaries with their technology use.
- Plan study breaks. Taking frequent breaks for planned activities is a lot more effective than taking frequent breaks to check notifications on your phone and losing track of time. Planning specific chunks of time to do something else between study sessions is more motivating than “rewarding oneself” with a break. As many young adults are used to being motivated by deadlines, planning ahead can help prevent procrastination.
- Outline motivations. Often, when setting goals for themselves, young adults focus on how to measure their progress rather than how to measure their satisfaction. When making goals, taking note of why this goal is important to them in the moment and long-term can help motivate young adults to stick with them. Sometimes, this might look like “getting a good grade on this prerequisite class will help me get into the advanced one,” but other times, they might discover that “following through with things I’ve started makes me feel accomplished” is their underlying motivation.
- Take time to unplug. One of the most positive ways to overcome internet addiction is to find healthier recreation activities to fill leisure time that are similarly rewarding. For example, for someone who loves watching stand up comedy videos, getting involved in a comedy open mic might feel more empowering. For someone who spends a lot of time playing Minecraft or other video games with detailed virtual worlds, going hiking or exploring a different area of town may offer a similar amount of curiosity and adventure.
At Foundations, one of our goals is to help our students accomplish their academic and career-oriented goals so that they can have opportunities to be successful, independent individuals. We try to help our students find what interests them in a career path and pair them with resources in Asheville to help them get valuable job experience, internships, or volunteer opportunities–whether or not the student chooses to take college classes. From there, we provide ongoing support with job skills, time management, and organization skills to help young adults stay motivated.
Foundations Asheville Can Help
Foundations Asheville is a program for young adults ages 18-24 who are struggling to find the motivation to launch into adulthood. Many of our students struggle with anxiety, depression, social skills, internet addiction, and learning difficulties. This program is committed to helping young adults develop and sharpen the skills they need to be successful in the real world. There is a focus on teaching students how to enter the workforce, develop vocational trades, and functional living skills. Foundations Asheville gives young adults the opportunity to gain confidence, find their purpose, and learn useful skills that will help them navigate through the adult years.
For more information on how to help your child struggling with internet addiction, call 18773187273. We can help your family today!