Uh-oh. A new study has suggested that we could all just be a little bit addicted to the internet and we have a feeling they’re not wrong…
When asked about what aspects of being online makes people the happiest, more than a third (37 per cent) of 25-34-year-olds said that the more followers they have, the happier they feel. 36 per cent also said that keeping up appearances can be a big cause of anxiety for them.
The survey, conducted by Carphone Warehouse, found that almost half of 25-34-year-olds said the internet makes them feel more in control of their life, whilst 2 in 5 said the internet has enhanced their perception of their intelligence and interpersonal skills.
Experts within the fields of psychology, sociology, and tech have shared why the internet makes us happy – and why it doesn’t.
Dr. Pamela Rutledge, Director at the Media Psychology Research Center, said that online activity can have such a hold on our moods “because humans are social animals and rely on social connection for their mental and physical wellbeing, people are hypersensitive to things like social validation, affiliation, liking, disrespect and exclusions. We have an instinctive need to be accepted into a group (social validation), and at primal level, to the biological need for survival.”
Dr. Rutledge added that “if following certain people on Facebook make you feel left out or not good enough, unfollow them. If watching silly cat videos on YouTube makes you laugh, then schedule in a cat video during your coffee break. Laughter literally changes your body chemistry.”
Anna Akbari, PhD, Sociologist and former professor at NYU and Parsons School of Design, said: “there’s no regulatory body kicking you off Facebook or Instagram after a certain amount of time each day. Nor is someone stopping you from repeatedly virtually stalking your ex’s profiles, all of which can be self-destructive if left unchecked. Bottom line: you need to control your engagement with the platforms, and not fall victim to a constant state of virtual FOMO.”
Akbari’s suggestion for staying happy online is to perhaps “limit yourself to only checking social media once or twice a day (as opposed to every hour), turn off all mobile notifications for “likes” and instead keep them on only for direct messages. Virtual profiles and the platforms that host them must be approached like a drug: seductive, fun, powerful, and dangerous. Use them responsibly.”