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Network addiction: I can't stop!


Spending a lot of time online can generate anxiety, affect self-esteem and lower productivity. Become aware and return to pay more attention to your real life.


Always have the cell phone nearby, close at hand, but not so that they can locate it if something happens in the family or at work, but because of the need to look at social networks, over and over again, every few minutes.

Close Instagram, open Twitter, check TikTok, go back to Instagram... and so, for a large part of her day, Malena (38) is dedicated to seeing the same applications continuously automatically, without even noticing the action she repeats in a loop.

“I can be waiting to be charged in a business, warming up a coffee or even putting on makeup and I take out the phone.

Any second is good to scroll, ”she says.

On a Monday in January, her phone's “screen time” function showed her that she had spent an average of 6 hours 39 minutes online in the past week.

The rising arrow next to this number indicated that time spent on mobile had increased 59 percent from the previous week.

It caught her attention, she worried, and when she tried to review in her mind what she had done in the last seven days, she realized that she hadn't seen any of her friends, hadn't even put on a series at night, although she had bed very late

“For an adult, spending time on social networks for more than 2 or 3 hours a day is a problem, and 4 to 6 hours is already more serious.

People isolate themselves, they lose the real link with others and the only thing that interests them are virtual connections.

There is no possibility of substitution, of moving on to another activity or to another type of relationship”, explains the psychiatrist Alberto Alvarez, a member of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association (APA).


According to a study carried out in 2022 by Havas, the French multinational advertising and public relations company, Argentines spend an average of 9 hours 38 minutes a day on the Internet, that is, two more than the world average of 7 hours.

Of this total, 35 percent of this time is spent on social networks.

A striking fact that the investigation revealed was that 87 percent of Argentines consume content related to gaming, another activity to which many hours are dedicated.


Live through the videos of others what I will never be able to do, reach places in the world that are impossible for me to visit, be aware of the latest luxury items that I will never buy, eat in the best restaurants on the planet , having a spiritual, wild or exclusive experience, enjoying a glass of wine with an ideal partner in a dream vineyard in Australia, being at the most important music festivals or sporting events without even leaving my chair.

Rafael (32) lists all this when asked why he spends so many hours of the day on TikTok, undoubtedly the most addictive social network of all.

Today, the pleasure generated by sliding your index finger across the screen is not compared to anything, not even playing football with your friends or going to the movies,

two activities that he did much more frequently a few months ago.

In addition, when he manages to leave the device and goes out, he despairs of just doubting if he forgot his cell phone or always looking to connect to some Wi-Fi as soon as he gets somewhere.

For the psychoanalyst Diana Litvinoff, author of the book The hidden subject in virtual reality, “the current human being has exchanged risks and uncertainties for the safety of what is practical and comfortable.

But something was lost along the way, and he fell into the boredom and tedium of the routine, and in this sense, virtual connections, games, the Internet seem to become a territory recovered from adventure.

That's why they're so enthusiastic."


Why is making the decision to quit apps so difficult sometimes?

Who did not think that they were only going to watch a couple of videos and suddenly more than an hour had passed?

Why are we so obsessed with the lives of others?

Of course, no matter how fine it may be, there is a dividing line between going too far on a rainy day or on a Saturday morning looking at anything, or even checking the news as soon as you wake up, and before getting out of bed, but also the platforms, and not being able to do without these means without causing anguish or irritability, which sometimes overflows.

When the possibility of walking away becomes difficult or becomes a compulsion, we are talking about an addiction.

Also, explains Litvinoff, when one seeks to solve all the problems in this completeness that the screen gives, when social networks fill the gaps, calm loneliness or the person finds in the virtual world a way to solve the situation more easily than like it should in real life.

“More than controlling the computer or cell phone, people seem to be controlled by these machines,” warns the specialist.

The addiction to content that social networks arouse is similar to other non-substance addictions, also called behavioral, which refer to behavior that is repeated very frequently and without control.

But, in addition, as Alberto Alvarez explains, the regions that are activated in the brain are the same as when there are substances involved.

Biologically, this impacts the areas related to quick rewards and the need for immediate satisfaction in the same way, but in the consumption of networks, the gaze and the function of the mirror are at stake, living in a virtual reality, in worlds parallels;

situations that do not occur with other addictions.

Other signs that dependency may have become an addiction, apart from the modification of routines (it affects work, concentration, relationships with others, study) is the distortion of reality, which as a consequence It can manifest in a person discontent with himself, his own body or his relationships.

“They are all beautiful, they dress divinely and have the best boyfriends who propose to them in public.

What is shown is the ideal, who would do otherwise?

But at the same time, even though deep down we know that no one is so perfect, we still buy that”, confesses Malena.


Luna's (41) TikTok account was filled with diets, sports routines and fitness people.

“I was always insecure with my body and seeing all this constantly had a tremendous impact on me.

I felt pressured, because I thought that what I saw in the videos was what my environment expected of me, but even so, I could not stop looking at them, ”she warns.

One day the shock she felt after a string of videos far removed from her body image was so great that she decided to delete the application.

TikTok is one of the most popular social networks in the world, it was created in 2018 and behind this phenomenon is a Chinese technology megagiant, which developed an absolutely addictive algorithm that automatically and quickly “learns” what your preferences are. of the users.

This means that in a very short time an account is outlined according to the interests of each person or governed by their insecurities and ideals.

"It's not about demonizing either.

During the pandemic we were aware of how useful the relationship through social networks can be.

This connection is today one of the main means by which work, study, relationships and even our fantasy world take place.

The important thing is to rescue yourself as a person who has her own decisions and not end up being an object, tyrannized by an addiction ”, warns Litvinoff.

Several experts also point out the difference between being “app dependent” and “app competent”.


Camila (44) feels that nothing she sees on the platforms affects her, she doesn't believe too much in the videos made by people she doesn't know, she understands that people upload the happy version of their lives to Instagram and choose what to show and what No.

On TikTok, she skips more videos than she stops to watch, which are often the ones that show cleaning tips, no challenges, choreography, or "dress with me."

But what she noticed is that the ease that makes her pick up the cell phone when she is in bed, on a trip or in her break, took away space from one of her favorite activities: reading.

It was Camila's partner who put into words what was happening.

She kept buying several books that accumulated on the bedside table, something that didn't happen before.

Even though she was aware that she had completely stopped reading, that she promised herself to pick it up on vacation, and that it was hard for her to grasp them, she continued without doing anything.

In this sense, Dr. Alvarez explains that sometimes those who detect the problem are others: family, friends, partner.

But the first step for an information detox, or to resort to a psychoanalytic treatment, is for the person to be able to recognize that this is a problem for them, that it limits and locks them up, that they understand why it is easier for them to immerse themselves in the virtual world than to face problems and that an addiction is also a way to hide.

To reduce the time she spent online, Camila analyzed in therapy what the networks added to and subtracted from.

She wrote down the time and at the times when she visited them the most, she decided to reduce 30 minutes a day, she decided not to charge the phone on her bedside table and not buy more books until she finished the ones she has pending.

It is not every day that she feels like reversing this situation, it is still easier for her to pick up the phone and not think about anything, but little by little she hopes to resume the habit of reading.

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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