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Opinions of Sunday, 7 June 2020

Columnist: Samuel Danso

Deleterious effects of internet addiction among students

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The proliferation of the internet has signi?cantly impacted the way in which students use new media.

The use of internet is not alien to students but rather an accepted practice. Once con?ned to a computer, laptop or mobile phone with internet accessibility, students are able to explore over a wider range.

In recent years, new media and the internet have affected how students associate and interact with each other globally. Students have greater autonomy overtime where communication is no longer limited to certain times. Students now have access to global ideas in their pursuit of academic excellence.

Internet has greatly impacted communication and culture through increasing interpersonal communication, assisting students to reach friends regardless of time and distance.

The growing dimension on the use of the internet among students cannot be over emphasized.

The advancement in new media through the use of the internet has greatly educated students to a wider world of greater possibilities and exciting future.

However, attention has not been drawn to the impact that internet has on students. The increasing public concern about internet addiction is always accompanied with questions of how to define and cope with the menace.

Internet addiction has become a significant concern with a variety of negative outcomes among students.

The debate between the good and bad side of the internet continues. Internet addiction is the dark side of the internet.

Internet addiction refers to a person’s inability to control the use of the internet and its accompanied effects. Students are now addicted to the internet through engaging in social networking such as chatrooms, WhatsApp, messaging and Facebook to the extent that virtual online friends have become more important than real life relationships.

Students who are addicted to cybersex engages in pornography which negatively affects their close relationships.

Other effects of internet addiction among students are decline in academic performance, issues on mental and physical health, emotional instability, and social isolation.

Academic Performance

Internet has brought about new dangers that threaten students’ academic success. In recent times, several studies have found a relationship between internet addiction and academic performance.

Academic performance can be described in broader terms to include students’ overall marks attained in examinations, quizzes, class assignments and attendance. Students who fanatically chat with friends at school take away from valuable study time resulting in academic decline.

In this direction, parents no longer spend on them since they are internet addicts. Such students rather become deviants in school and economic liability to family, society and nation.

Students who are addicted to the internet often misses class, show decline in study habits resulting in significant drop in grades. There are concerns that students’ heavier use of the internet might interfere with their academic achievement.

Mental Health

Students excessive internet use is worthy of attention because of the deleterious effect on their mental health. Internet plays significant role in influencing people’s mentality and behavior.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is not just the absence of illness, but is rather conceptualized as a state of wellbeing in which the individual realizes his/her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make contribution to his/her community. Psychiatric disorders such as low self-esteem, impulsivity, poor sleep quality, and mood disorder are all correlated with internet addiction.

Others include suicidal ideation, aggression, depression, subjective stress, and low sense of happiness. Depression is the most frequently reported psychiatric symptom associated with internet addiction. Mental health professionals identify internet addiction as one of the major causes of mental health problems among students.

Internet addiction has changed student’s way of thinking which gradually leads to parent-child conflict because of the disparity of ideas in facing the realities of life.

Physical Health

Increasing amounts of time spent online has direct impact on student’s physical health. These impacts could be physical symptoms such as pain, stiffness in arms and joints, dry and strained eyes, back pain and neck-pain leading to headache. Others could be sleeping disorders, extreme hyperactivity, decrease in hygiene and eating disorders.

Adopting the correct sitting position is essential for maintaining good posture. Prolonged sitting on the computer can cause range of adverse health effects.

Students are also likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome which causes pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and wrist.

Emotional Instability

Internet addiction has negative effect on students’ mood modification, level of tolerance and patience. Students who spend most of their time on the internet rather than studying often have emotional disturbances especially when they are anxious and agitated.

Similarly, individuals with emotional instability are prone to have less interpersonal skill that leads to the inexistence of social activities in their daily life. Some of the outcomes of depression are loss of control, school failure, social isolation and feeling of hopelessness.

One of the key characteristics of students with emotional instability is that they are not able to handle stress and this affect their ability to write their exams. It is obvious that stress and internet addiction are correlated.

Social Isolation

Internet addiction can be considered as a significant threat to one's social well-being in that it enforces antisocial behavior. The addiction can lead to the inability to communicate among students and family. This deprives them of the daily practices involved with interpersonal communication.

Internet addiction is considered as one of the major causes of damaged relationship among students. Students now uses text messages, WhatsApp and emails in communicating to each other instead of face-to- face interaction. The more students are addicted to the internet, the more they spend less time in their social interaction with family and friends.

The outcome is that, one loses touch with life and their self-identity.

Conclusion

From the foregoing, it is imperative for students to limit the rate of using the internet considering its deleterious effect on them.