Internet addiction is leading to more people facing mental health issues in Bengaluru.
A study by the National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) shows that college students report higher rates of 11.8 percent in comparison to others in experiencing mental health issues resulting from excessive internet addiction. This includes using social media, over-the-top (OTT) platforms, and gaming platforms. Internet addiction refers to when the use of the internet becomes uncontrollable and leads to family or academic issues. The same study found that internet addiction worsened depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hostility, and aggression.
Another study, approved by SRM University, talks about how internet usage is slowly increasing in Bengaluru and how students are becoming addicted to it. Even though internet addiction is still not recognized as a disorder in India according to the study, it leads to mental health, physical and social well-being issues among many.
According to Dr. Bhargavi D Hemmige, professor at Centre for Management Studies, Jain University, “Internet addiction was there pre-covid, but after Covid, we made that legit. There was anxiety, some kind of sadness, depression among students. Earlier when anyone used phones in class we would take it from them, but now we only ask them to open it”.
The amount of complaints received related to the same has also doubled. Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma, professor of clinical psychology, NIMHANS said, “We have been receiving more complains since 2012. While pre-pandemic we received five to six cases per week, post-covid the number has doubled”.
He further said, “Many are using the internet for improving self-esteem. They don’t have a healthy coping mechanism to manage stress or low mood states so they spend time on online platforms to feel good. It is a psychological issue which perpetuates excessive use of the internet and the most prevalent among these is depression, stress, and anxiety”.
Eva Goutam, a college student said, “I do feel like I am so addicted. I keep checking social media or something else on my phone again and again. And I think it is taking a toll on my mental health. I go to my phone the second it rings, I keep clearing the apps again and again and when I am not near it, I start feeling anxious”.
The research by NIMHANS also indicates that easy access and lack of parental supervision among college students is leading to an increase in internet use.
Neha Singhal, a psychologist, said. “When you are more into internet addiction, obviously factors like anxiety, stress, and panic can be faced. The attention span of the child also reduces”.
As per psychologists, awareness needs to start at every level, including school, workplace, and family level. Also, one needs to identify the distress they are going through and accordingly seek professional help.