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Pokémon Go: The New Digital Addiction

Pokémon Go: The New Digital Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Let’s talk about Pokémon Go, why not? Considering literally everyone else in the world is, why shouldn’t we get in on the action? Ever since this new phenomenon has hit the streets in the form of an interactive smartphone app that is quickly consuming the lives of customers all over America there have been some pretty intense stories. It seems the game is probably one of the most instantaneously addictive things on the market right now, so of course it brings to mind previous conversations on:

I can personally say I was pretty amused when my roommate stumbled out of his room at 2 AM in his underwear chasing invisible creatures through the apartment via his phone like a mad man…

Apparently, there is some rare breed of something hiding in my closet… but I digress…

People have become obsessed overnight with this game. It seems any time you walk into a room with anyone around the age of… being alive… you are going to be an obstacle in their mission of hunting some pixelated Pokémon. Some people are worried about how obsessed people have become. Others insist it has done wonders for their mental health. So I wanted to take a look at some of these interesting theories.

What is it?

Essentially Pokémon Go is a game based on a Nintendo-owned franchise that was especially popular in the late 1990’s. This new smartphone game uses a phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when people are in the game. Then it makes Pokémon “appear” around you.

No, not literally… but you can see them through your phone camera on the screen… so basically real life, right?

The idea is to go and catch them. Different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is.

Mental Health

First let us say that many of these claims can’t be fully legitimized at this time. However, Twitter users seem confident in what they see happening with others and experiencing themselves regarding mental health and Pokémon Go. One Twitter user put it as:

Pokémon Go is literally making people with depression and anxiety and agoraphobia leave the house and explore and socialize.”

Which when you examine the nature of the game does actually make some sense. Pokémon Go requires users to go into the outside world and explore to find Pokémon and items.

Many players have said that the game gives them an incentive to get out of the house and be active. It inspires some to exercise and spend time outdoors, while having fun and interacting with others. Now if you look at it this way, how could it not do some good for mental health?

I honestly had to wonder this myself when the game was first announced. As I watched co-workers and friends wonder aimlessly through parking lots and gather together to share their latest catches, I figured this was giving us a new way to get outside more and get active with one another. Maybe it’s not so bad, right?

Then there is the argument of if the trade-off is worth it for having teens and young adults yet again dragged too deep into their phones. This concern also makes sense to me. If you have this new obsession with constantly striving to “catch em all” then how will your personal relationships and responsibilities suffer? I don’t know anyone personally, but you can be sure a few people have already lost their jobs or blown off their dates to chase Pikachu around a grocery store.

Pokémon Related Injury

This is one side-effect I definitely saw coming, but I was not aware of the magnitude that it might manifest in. Already Pokémon– related injuries are being reported all over the country. So many people have admitted in social media forums that they completely forgot where they were, dropping all focus on their surroundings.

One Reddit user’s story has made the rounds online about ending up in the ER on night after falling into a ditch and fracturing bones in their foot 30 minutes into playing the game. There are even accounts of drivers getting into traffic accidents because they were playing the game out the window while driving.

To be fair, the makers of the game did make a warning to be aware of surroundings.

Risky Rocket Business

This should be taken as a serious warning if nothing else. The game has been notably misused already. Police in O’Fallon, Missouri have reported four people suspected of armed robberies involving Pokémon Go. The suspects reportedly placed beacons, which are a feature available in the game to interact with the surroundings, to lure people to their locations where they robbed them. 11 teenagers have been mugged this way so far, according to this initial report.

So #TeamRocket is becoming an actual thing… and they are freaking people out. Is this gaming addiction really that serious? Do people really need to risk their lives, or the lives of others, for these imaginary monsters?

Most Addictive App Ever?

Some are already calling Pokémon Go the most addictive gaming app ever. It has experienced a number of technical issues since its launch, including server crashes and other issues. Still, for a FREE gaming app with all this hype, it is doing pretty well for itself. Looking back there was Pokémon Blue and other titles for the franchise. People have been working their way up to this all along.

The question remains- what could this do for people’s mental health? If it really is that addictive, what consequences will it reap on those who have a tendency of taking things too far? Will we see a spike in gaming addiction and obsessive behaviors? Or will it actually have a mixed impact as it lures people out of their homes and into their communities. Some surprising testimonies have told how random strangers in a community come together, united over the teams they choose and to make strategies for how to play.

So next time you see someone blindly following their phone into on-coming traffic… maybe they are just trying to track down a Evee or a Squirtle? Maybe you should save them from themselves and keep them on the sidewalk… or some of you will probably hope to have the Pokémon to yourself… FOR SHAME!

Addiction can involve behaviors not related to taking drugs or drinking excessively. You can be addicted to the internet, gaming, gambling, sex, eating, or any other behavior that is causing problems in your life, such as destroying relationships, your health, or interfering with your job. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call us at 1-800-951-6135

The Great Internet Addiction Debate

The Great Internet Addiction Debate

Author: Justin Mckibben

America doesn’t have a internet addiction problem, right? Is that even a thing?

Obviously, I’m being facetious… or am I?

You would think this is a ridiculous question with a resounding answer of DUH! Internet addiction is undoubtedly a real thing, and America certainly has a pretty bad cased of it, right?

Everywhere you go you see digital devices of all shapes and sizes. People everywhere seemed sucked into their screens working, checking social media, or aimlessly surfing the web for cat pictures or awesome blogs like mine. It causes a clutter in the hallway at the office, and even more dangerous it causes accidents in traffic when people can pry themselves away from their tweets long enough to DRIVE THEIR CAR!

Of course everyone loves the convenience of smartphones and our independent access to the internet, but when does it cross the line into becoming a full-fledged addiction, and can we classify Internet Addiction as a stand-alone diagnosis?

Internet Getting Out of Hand?

According to some experts, our Internet addiction is becoming a real problem and psychologists say they’re seeing more patients suffering from internet addiction or digital addiction, which in turn can actually create some very real adverse effects. Karin Kassab, a psychologist at Clarity Counseling Center in Wilmington, described some people experiencing the more severe side of internet addiction recently:

“These are the Facebook moms who forget to put their kids to bed or forget to pick their kids up from school. The online gamers who are spending so much time gaming that they lose their job and move back home. When we are talking Internet addiction, it is important to note, this is excessive Internet use at its extreme. The tokens are excessive Internet use and big problems at work, school or socially.”

Kassab is not the first expert to note the gravity of the growing internet addiction, but other experts don’t see internet addiction as an issue that is as serious as we’re making it out to be.

What’s the Big Deal?

Dr. Mark Griffiths is a professor of gambling studies at the Nottingham Trent University and director of the International Gaming Research Unit. According to Griffith there’s nothing inherently wrong with excessively being on a smartphone or connected to the internet as long as it doesn’t interfere with our lives.

So of course these people who are letting their responsibilities tumble around them are not too concerning, and for those who are truly addicted, Dr. Griffith and other experts insist it usually indicates something more severe is going on with that individual. Dr. Griffiths said,

“Often, the excessive use is symptomatic of other underlying problems in that person’s life. Therapeutically, if you find out what that problem is, then the excessive use can disappear.”

Well, yea! That is typically the case with a lot of substance abuse issues. Usually some underlying pattern or mental health disorder creates self-destructive patterns that lead to excessive abuse of a substance, or in this case a device, which becomes a habitual hindrance.

The Great Debate

Kassab agrees with this mindset, adding that for many experts the debate is about whether or not internet addiction can stand on its own as a diagnosis, or if it is simply a new extension or symptom of another condition such as anxiety disorder or depression. Kassab explained,

“There’s great debate over whether Internet addiction is actually its own stand-alone disorder or if it is a consequence of a co-occurring disorder. So, am I depressed therefore that manifests into me staying in, being isolated on the Internet?”

Though the debate continues, recent information shows the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders currently does NOT classify Internet addiction or smartphone addiction as a diagnosis for addiction or treatment on its own… yet?

What do you think? So far Kassab stands by her own verdict to treat internet addiction as a true addiction, and with the prevalence of the symptoms she sees in her clients, she shows no sign of changing her mind on this side of the spectrum.

So what should we view this as? Should we consider internet addiction to be a completely separate and specific addiction with its own symptoms, or should we treat obsessive and excessive internet and social media use as merely aspects of a more understood and accepted mental health disorder?

While internet addiction may not be an official thing, in a society that thrives on technology and social media it is an issue that is growing as quickly and widely as the social media does. With any powerful addiction, there is always help out there. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Is 6% of the World Addicted to the Internet?

Is 6% of the World Addicted to the Internet?

via wifflegif.com

Author: Justin Mckibben

More and more these days we see it; people engrossed in their smartphone walking down the street, or even more dangerous, driving. I am honestly guilty of it myself. We find ourselves so involved in the world outside ourselves that is being broadcast across the invisible networks of the internet , and when we are in front of a computer we are trapped in the soft glow of our monitors like flies buzzing toward a bug-zapper.

While some people have an ability to take notice of how this is effecting their lives and relationships and act on it, many others are unable to completely let go, or even still have no intention of admitting to the dependence they have formed with their technology. But new studies are being conducted frequently to show us just how much of our population really relies on the fix we get from our social media new feeds or our endless stream of emails.

What is internet addiction?

Internet addiction is pathological and compulsive computer use that interferes with daily life. It is the inability to control internet use, resulting in an adverse impact on interpersonal relations and physical health. The concept of Internet addiction is still highly debated. Internet addiction is consistently becoming more understood and acknowledged as a hazardous compulsive condition.

Compulsive internet use can interfere with daily life, work, and relationships. When you feel more comfortable with your online, even when it has negative consequences in your life, then you may be facing a more intense addiction to the internet and a higher dependence on technology.

The Numbers are In

According to a new study by researchers at the University of Honk Kong, about 6% of the world’s population is addicted to the internet. Now that number may seem small, but in other words that is actually 420 million people!

The meta-analysis was actually published last month in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. More than 89,000 individuals in 31 countries (About half (49%) of the participants were men, and the average age was 18.42 years) were part of this study, and the data was collected regarding the prevalence of internet addiction, and some interesting conclusions were reached by the team.

Internet addiction appeared in the data to be more prevalent in countries or regions with a lower quality of life, which includes:

  • low gross domestic product
  • environmental factors such as high pollution and traffic
  • The highest frequency of internet addiction was detected in the Middle East with a 10.9% internet addiction rate
  • The lowest was in northern and western Europe with 2.6%.

The researchers explained that according to the survey and their analysis, internet addiction was more dominant for nations with a few key factors, such as:

  • Greater traffic time consumption
  • More pollution
  • Higher dissatisfaction with life in general

In the publication it was noted that people may use the internet as a coping mechanism or an escape from the stress of the real world, which for anyone familiar with drug and alcohol abuse (or any kind of addiction for that matter) is understandable seeing as how many people who abuse drugs and/or alcohol state that as time moves on, they tend to use these substances as an escape from the complications they face in life. The authors of the report wrote,

“In the present cyber age, people may immerse themselves into the virtual world of the internet to escape from stress they experience in the real world. As the boundaries of the virtual and the real worlds become blurred, individuals who encounter more frequent real life problems have a greater motivation to use the internet as a coping mechanism.”

Past research has been suspected to link internet use to addiction, depression, or other behavioral and psychiatric problems, but not enough information to determine a causal relationship. In other words, internet addiction may not be the cause of these mental disorders, it may just be that people who have these problems may be more prone to escape online.

Smartphones in correlation with social media has helped bring the concern with internet addiction to the forefront of most people’s, and funny enough we read most of the information about it we find off the internet itself. While the studies continue to try and identify the contributing factors and common variables with internet addiction, others continue to speculate the real scope of this compulsions influence on our everyday lives.

Still, no matter how small 6% may seem, in the grand scheme of things that is a massive number in our world, and experts believe that as technology grows, that number will only grow with it.

While internet addiction may not be as noticeable in a society that thrives on technology and social media, it is a disorder that is growing as the social media does, and as with any powerful addiction, there is always help out there. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

3 Most Socially Accepted Addictions

3 Most Socially Accepted Addictions

Author: Justin Mckibben

Human beings are wired to seek pleasure, so is it any wonder that we become habitually hooked on behaviors and substances that provide us with a quick dose of that ‘feel good’ stimulation. Probably all of us have some form of an addiction, something we are hooked on and don’t even know it. Even if we do know it, we often get away with it when it’s ‘socially acceptable’.

Drugs or alcohol are the obvious first thought when addiction comes up, and then with that comes the stigma. But then the world sweeps so many others under the rug, when if you really think of addiction, it is as an extreme level of dedication to an activity—which is something our culture accepts, and even celebrates! So why is it typically expected for people who are addicted to drinking or using drugs to feel shameful, but other activities or substances are shrugged off?

In America, as well as many other places all over the world, there are those ‘socially accepted’ addictions. Is it a bit of hypocrisy? Is it the lesser of evils? Does it become ‘socially acceptable’ when the vast majority relies on it? However you look at it, some substances and compulsive behaviors you are more likely to get away with. Here are a handful of things in America that have become the most common socially acceptable addictions.

1. Work-aholic

This is a big one. Most people don’t even realize the fact that we not only accept this kind of addictive behavior, but many idolize it and celebrate it. Men and women work tirelessly more than before, and when we walk out the office, some of the most successful are always connected to the internet.

It is no longer the case where we leave work at the building and escape to our lives at home. We are sending emails and tracking information wirelessly at all times. If not we are taking calls constantly.

While some of this behavior may rub some people in our lives the wrong way, many are wrapped up in their own business.

2. Coffee-aholic

How many people openly call themselves ‘coffee addicts’ and joke about how they won’t make it through a day without their morning coffee. With espresso bars on almost every corner in many major cities, the culture supports this kind of addiction.

Caffeine is an addictive, mood-altering drug. People can debate all they want about how much of a threat it is in comparison to other substances of this class, but the fact remains it is the most social accepted psychoactive drug in the country.

Ask any routine coffee drinker. Many experience some form of withdrawal if they go cold turkey, and many are thinking about their next cup before they have even finished the one their drinking. This addiction actually helps some workaholics fuel that addiction. Caffeine in many forms makes us feel alert and productive, and the world has accepted it as a necessity for most, not the luxury that it is.

3. Smartphone-aholic

Have you ever sat in a dark room with friends with no TV, no music, not speaking- just using your phones? I have, and I’m willing to bet I’m not alone.

This is probably the most common of the socially acceptable addictions, and it’s because pretty much everyone in the world has one. Much has been said and written about the way smartphones and tablets are taking over the world, isolating us all from each other as we ironically attempt to “connect” with others. We are obsessing over texts, threads, emojis and videos that are becoming the new definition of who we are. Touch-screens are re-wiring our minds, and texts are recreating our conversations.

Smartphones provide an escape. If you ask an addict, any drug or drink becomes an escape at some point. No matter where we are or what we are feeling we can get a quick rush from sharing, tagging, tweeting, etc. We can manipulate the world with photo filters and comments from the safety of our emotional shell to feel important or involved, and we become hopelessly dependent on that idea.

Social media and smartphones are amazing pieces of technology. They have become powerful and useful tools in everyday life. But the fact is, people are losing sight of how it affects some people. Some lose all their intimate personal connections. Some invest far too much money in online gaming. Others become emotionally incapacitated over a selfie that does get enough ‘likes’ or a text never gets a response.

But at the end of the day, this addiction is so socially acceptable because again, almost anyone you meet will have a smartphone and use it pretty consistently themselves. Most people will admit their dependence on their devices, or at least share an article about it on Facebook. How could excessive ‘social networking’ not be ‘socially acceptable’?

The stigma with addiction is very real, and too many people never admit the fact they need help for dangerous compulsive behaviors like using drugs or drinking because of the stereotypes that come from society. In reality, an addiction is far more complex than poor decisions. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Higher Risk of Internet Addiction for the Highly Successful

Higher Risk of Internet Addiction for the Highly Successful

Author: Justin Mckibben

In the past decade the concept of Internet addiction has grown in acceptance as a legitimate clinical disorder. Compulsive Internet use can interfere with daily life, work, and relationships. When you feel more comfortable with your online, even when it has negative consequences in your life, then you may be facing a more intense addiction to the internet and a higher dependence on technology.

Internet addiction is becoming more recognized and effective treatment is becoming more of a reality as work is done to determine the causes and effects. Recently a study was published that indicates that for those with a higher professionally successful lifestyle may be more likely to develop an internet addiction.

Professional Hazard

This newest study about the elements of internet addiction seems to point to highly successful professionals as the individuals who may run the greatest risk of becoming addicted to the Internet. High-pressure jobs can require hundreds of email communications in a day, and many spend hours after the end of the work day attempting to stay on top of the constant flow of information.

With the convenience of the gadgets we have all familiarized ourselves with, it becomes nearly impossible to avoid. With constant contact through an iPhone, iPad or laptop, the temptation to continue browsing online can be hard to resist, deepening their digital dependence even for the moments they are connected to their work. Even socially they have adapted, much like a lot of others, to rely on their smartphone or other digital platforms to stay entertained and stay connected.

With the business schedule flowing into their every waking moment, and their mingling and socializing most done on a screen, the internet has effectively made these kinds of professionals 24-hour-a-day workers. Then comes the habit of waking up even in the middle of the night and immediately checking emails, Facebook, Instagram, and just about any other form of digital dialog.

In one publication a former web addict shared her five top tips to “maintain a healthy online life.” These include:

  • Scheduling your Internet time
  • Accepting that you can’t answer every email
  • Disabling unnecessary notifications
  • Getting out for a walk
  • Remembering the Internet is not as important as we think

The study has also revealed that people who are successful in their careers that are more likely to be engaging in compulsive internet use are also at an increased risk of other detrimental behaviors such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Isolation

As one might guess, these results came as a shock to the researchers involved in the study. Most would have assumed it would be young people and the unemployed who were most at risk from internet addiction. I know when Myspace was the big social media outlet I had spent a lot of time customizing my profile, picking out the theme music, and looking back there were times it probably got a little out of hand (for anyone who remembers the hacks to customize your mailbox and friend-request control panel).

But personally my social media and internet use only started to spiral out of control when it became a part of my work. I specifically work in social media, and spend all day working with blogs, webpages, and keeping up with trends.

Generation D seems to have a few more executives and 9-5ers than most people would assume. Teens may be the ones who we see the most on their phones, but in reality the addictive and compulsive behavior is typically developed in the working class.

Staying plugged into the news, and trying to stay ahead of hot topics with new insight took my addiction to another level, and my closest friends will probably tell you I haven’t changed a bit. NOT TRUE! I only post a few selfies a week, and I only share the important (or ridiculously funny) meme’s to raise awareness for important issues (like Vine and Snapchat).

While internet addiction may not be as noticeable in a society that thrives on technology and social media, it is a prominent disorder that is growing as the social media does. It is one of many addictions that can be more debilitating than people give it credit until the damage has been done. But as with any addiction, we always want to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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