Wasting Time on the Internet

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The internet has changed the world for the better in many different ways. With the help of the internet, one can look up almost any information they want with the click of a few buttons. However, even though the internet has revolutionized the way that people interact with the world, it also provides a new type of distraction that can be detrimental to a person’s productivity. As such, legislators should consider passing laws that persuade people to spend less time on the internet or perhaps conduct a public campaign that is designed to spread awareness on the internet’s addictive potential. 

A writer on the website The Art of Manliness provided an account of his experiences with spending less time on the internet. To begin this account, the author describes how his inner monologue functions when he sits down to accomplish something. Namely, he talks about how visiting a website to help with an assignment will turn into him briefly opening his Facebook account. After doing this, he checks a few more of his social media pages and clicks on links while he is there. Before he knows it, he has wasted an hour on this process. The author explains how our brains are wired to constantly be looking for changes to our environments and how the design of the internet takes advantage of that response mechanism. In order to combat these natural responses, the author has structured his use of the internet to avoid wasting time on it. Specifically, he talks about how he has installed apps that block some of his most distracting websites, and how he leaves his tablet in another room when he needs to work (McKay, 2018). 

The problem described in this case study could potentially have a number of different policy implications. First, one must consider that internet use has exploded in the past decade. As such, incidences of internet addiction (which is characterized by compulsive use and negative outcomes) has also increased (Kuss et al., 2014). Different types of internet addiction exist – with some exhibiting unhealthy behavior with things like gaming, and others having problems with social media addiction (Montag et al., 2014). As the author of the case study indicates, the means by which someone becomes addicted to the internet has to do with the Internet’s interaction with response mechanism’s in the brain such as cue-reactivity and decision-making (Brand, Young & Laier, 2014). Thus, while not everyone may become addicted to the internet, the medium provides a very easy way for one to waste time. The wasting of time in this manner comes at a large cost to society. For example, people who choose to ceaselessly update their social media pages or peruse dating websites will naturally be spending less time on their work. This loss in productivity costs businesses’ money, which will reduce the number of wages they can pay their employees. With fewer wages, people will be able to buy less, thus having a ripple effect on the economy at large.  As such, policy-makers should think about ways they can reduce the addictive potential of the internet. Perhaps this could be done through creating legislation that requires computers to come with pre-installed software that has the potential to block websites. Or perhaps a public campaign could be launched that emphasizes the need to control one’s internet usage. 

Though the internet has changed society for the better in many different ways, the potential for distraction that this technology holds requires people to prevent themselves from wasting too much time. As the case study shows, there are a number of different technologies that one can use to curb some of his or her time-wasting activities online. Furthermore, it may be beneficial for legislators to consider passing laws or conducting awareness campaigns to prevent people from being sucked into the addictive potentials of the internet.

References

Brand, M., Young, K.S., & Laier, C. (2014). Prefrontal control and Internet addiction: A theoretical model and review of neuropsychological and neuroimaging findings. Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, 27. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00375/full

Kuss, J.D., Griffiths, D., Karila, L., & Billieux, J. (2014). Internet addiction: A systematic review of epidemiological research for the last decade. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 20(25). Retrieved fromhttp://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cpd/2014/00000020/00000025/art00006

McKay, B. (2018). How to quit mindlessly surfing the internet and actually get stuff done. Retrieved from https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-quit-mindlessly-surfing-the-internet-and-actually-get-stuff-done/

Montag, C., Bey, K., Sha, P., Li, M., Chen, Y., Liu, W.Y., & Zhu, Y. (2014). Is it meaningful to distinguish between generalized and specific internet addiction? Evidence from a cross-cultural study from Germany, Sweden, Taiwan, and China. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry, 7(1). Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/appy.12122