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Digital Drugs

Recent studies reveal behavioral and emotional problems in adolescents who are addicted to the Internet, including addictive behaviors such as substance abuse and gambling. Families need to create an atmosphere that facilitates authentic relationships and motivate personal encounters.

According to an article by Emily Dixon on CNN on February 2, 2019, a 2019 Digital Report conducted by We are Social Digital marketing agency and Hootsuite social media management platform “has revealed the world’s heaviest internet users: the Philippines, where people spent an average of 10 hours and two minutes a day online in 2018.” 

She was quick to clarify though, that this may be attributed to the fact that many Filipinos work abroad and might be using the internet to keep in touch with loved ones. Her article points out that this does not necessarily reveal a form of abuse.  

A 2014 study titled “Epidemiology of Internet Behaviors and Addiction Among Adolescents in Six Asian Countries” shows that Internet addictive behavior is common among adolescents in Asian countries. 

The findings reveal, “Furthermore, an electroencephalogram study found higher impulsiveness in young adults who are Internet addicts. It would not be surprising if Internet-addicted adolescents were found to have a different personality profile than others, with lower extraversion and higher neuroticism and psychoticism. Behavioral and emotional problems are more common in adolescents who are addicted to Internet use than in their peers. Adolescents with Internet use problems are also more prone to other addictive behaviors such as substance abuse and gambling.”

How then could we possibly address this urgent concern, especially among our youth? We, their elders, need to create an atmosphere conducive to authentic relationships and dialogue, offline.  

However, we need to set limits to its use, and motivate our loved ones to engage in activities that make face-to-face and personal encounters meaningful. In families, in schools and in Church, we could initiate encounters that help them enter into an intimate relationship with Christ as the Source of their self-worth, and exchanges with family and friends in which deep-level listening is happening. 

Dear young people, there is life outside the internet. Get involved in sports, outdoor games and in hobbies that interest you. Most of all, remember, real love is experienced in God and through interactions with those who care for you and those who matter to you. There are also countless underprivileged persons needing your help. Reach out to them and discover the significance of your life. Believe that, “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them” (Eph 2:10). 

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