Computer addiction is bad PEXELS VIA CC0

The average american spends nearly 11 hours a day using media according to the Nielsen Company. PEXELS VIA CC0

 

Instagram was my form of cocaine. Netflix and Hulu were my morphine. Like enjoying those joyous warm caramel macchiatos from Starbucks despite the 30 minute long lines, like all the bad habits you know you shouldn’t do, I kept spending all of my time looking at my phone.

My family, my friends and my boyfriend all knew that if they wanted my attention, it couldn’t be any time I was near my phone. I’d scroll through my feed and stop a conversation mid-track like, “Omg who is she? She’s so hot, I wonder if Fit Tea really works?”

“Haha, look at this golden retriever wearing a onesie.”

“Where can I get a life like Jay Alvarrez?”

But don’t be so quick to brand me with a scarlet letter ‘A.’ You know you’ve done it too — ignored the people around you for a virtual reality of perfection and puppy videos. No one can escape binge-watching cute dogs doing cute dog things.

When did I become a person who couldn’t go 15 minutes without periodically checking her phone? When did I become someone who ignored others because I was too enamored by a show or Snapchat story?

According to a news report by The Telegraph, the average person has five social media accounts and will spend an hour and 40 minutes browsing through those accounts daily. That’s about 28 percent of the total internet usage for the day. This was all too familiar, and I sounded even worse than this.

A few weeks ago, I deleted the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps off my phone. Last night I deactivated my Instagram account entirely. In these past few weeks, I’ve been going to the gym a lot more than my usual once a week I-really-should-go-if-I’m-eating-all-this-dessert-
run through. I don’t deserve a cookie for detoxifying my life of bad habits and too much social media usage. But, this small app cleanse on my phone got me thinking — even if I wanted to, can I really escape the internet?

According to the Nielsen Company Audience Report for 2017, the average American spends 10 hours and 39 minutes daily using media like television, internet and video games. That’s about 74.6 out of the 168 hours that make up a week.

Those 10 hours are just the amount of media we consume, the entertainment part of the pie in our daily media usage. What about the number of hours we spend on Blackboard, Gmail and Solar for school daily?

If you’re a Stony Brook student, these three websites are just the basic must-checks that you have to maintain in order to do well in school.

Then there’s EBooks, Echoes, Cengage, Aleks, Oscer and the list goes on depending on your major.Whether you spend the recommended three hours per class, per week studying or not, it’s inevitable that you will use the internet for school-related work.

I’m a double major studying journalism and economics. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading the news, creating media and writing a good story — but that means I’m on the internet or behind a computer screen for more than four to five hours everyday. Then there’s my economics homework and lectures.

Maybe this makes me come off as a self-entitled princess, but I like to enjoy every meal and that means I’m going to watch my Hulu show, Netflix series or a makeup video on YouTube with it. It’s the only form of relaxation I can get as a student when I do have time for myself, whether it’s 15 minutes or less.

A Psychology Today study from 2014 reported that too much time behind a screen literally damages the brain. Loss of brain tissue/ shrinkage occured in those with internet and gaming additicion. That’s pretty terrifying.

Many of us already know that opening up that website for a class or study guide can lead to 15 extra tabs that don’t relate to the work you need to do. And as students, can we really blame ourselves for wanting to enjoy some form of entertainment to stop ourselves from being overwhelmingly miserable over our schoolwork and commitments?

I think the best that we can do is use the internet in moderation. Like with all the things that we love, there needs to be some level of self-control.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to rely on the internet so much. But from schoolwork to daily life, this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. So maybe all we can do is cut back on our social media usage and stop watching so many television shows and YouTube videos. Then we can truly be happy in the moment, build the “ideal” lives that we glorify on social media for ourselves and connect better with the people that matter to us.