A recent study links excessive texting with a variety of health risks including anxiety and depression. I have done a great many cyber activities to excess: texting, Internet chatting, surfing the web, as well as my grave addiction to video games. I repeatedly say in my book, Cyber Junkie, that excessive and compulsive cyber behaviors usually reveal deeper issues. Providing us with a visible outward sign, excessive cyber behaviors should be a signal to look deeper.
The above study quickly rang true for me because of my extensive experience with cyber addiction in myself and members of my cyber recovery groups. When we follow compulsive behavior down to its origin, dysfunction of some sort almost always emerges.
For me, the dysfunction is anxiety. For as long as I can remember, I have awaited on a daily basis the dropping of the sword of Damocles, feeling in my gut a discomfort that tells me something bad is about to happen. This inner sensation is a large part of what used to cripple me for hours in front of a computer screen, playing games until the wee hours. The following day, the anxiety would be worse, and then I would game some more to try to forget about it. This cycle went on for years.
Once we get passed the outer façade of addictive cyber use, we often find ADHD, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and even bipolar disorder. As with any process addiction, compulsive cyber behavior represents an attempt to avoid and escape unpleasant realities. The real problem is not the compulsive behavior, but rather the underlying circumstances that the individual chooses not to confront.
When you see compulsive behavior of any kind in yourself or a loved one, set your gaze beneath the surface. That is where the battle must be fought. So if you’re a parent, keep an eye on your child’s texting, Facebook use , and other cyber behaviors because they could very well point to problems that would otherwise go undetected.