Take time away to unplug from digital world

By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

Technology and the internet have become dominant forces in our lives today. We have unlimited amounts of information at our fingertips and can communicate with anyone in the world in an instant. While the internet offers many benefits, there are also an equal number of negative effects that can arise with too much usage.

When we get a notification, our first instinct is to check it. Checking the notification releases dopamine — the reward chemical — in our brain. Dopamine is typically associated with food, exercise, love, sex, gambling and drugs. For example, think of your stomach growling when you are hungry. When your stomach growls, it sends the message to your brain to eat. You make some food and eat it, which releases dopamine. And so, similar to checking the notification, eating food feels rewarding. However, checking for a notification is much more doable, meaning it’s easier to make it a habit and to get addicted.

Just think of all the time you’ve spent on Twitter or TikTok, looking for the new thing to read or watch — all the times you’ve whipped your phone out for no reason at all other than to check stuff online. The immediate reward of entertainment distracts you and can affect your attention span.

All that time, just wasted on scrolling. That search for a new source of entertainment when we are bored leads us to waste time on tweets and 30-second videos we probably won’t even watch all the way through. Instead, we can take that time to be bored without a screen by going outside or reading a book.

Many people are also introduced to the internet at a young age, making it harder for them to control how much time they spend online. They are also more susceptible to low self-esteem and negative mental health, which can last into adulthood. Introduce the internet to someone at a young age, and you’ve got them for life.

Instant communication means misinformation can spread just as easily as a piece of real news. Harmful ideas or crazy conspiracies like QAnon can also spread quickly, influencing thousands. Everyone has a voice online, but that voice isn’t always good.

It is important to limit the amount of time we spend online. Moderation is always the key; the internet still has many benefits, but too much is what hurts us.

As college students, most of our work is done on computers. It may be hard, but try to unplug yourself, even if it is just for a little bit. We stare at screens all day. Go outside for a little bit. Read a book. Engage your brain. Have fun.