Traditionally, the New Year is a time to kick-start healthy habits, with resolutions to quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.
However, in 2018 more Australians than ever are looking to form a healthier relationship with their smartphones.
According to clinical psychologist Jenny McGee, people are increasingly presenting with a combination of anxiety and internet addiction.
“Like many addictions, problematic internet use is a coping behaviour people use just to get some time out from the stress they are feeling. You can’t just take people’s smart phones away and expect their anxiety will go away,” she said.
The fifth annual National Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey found 26 per cent of Australians reported above normal levels of anxiety symptoms – the highest level since the survey started.
The same survey found more than one in ten Australians (12 per cent) reported keeping up with social media networks contributed to their overall levels of stress.
The survey also found, one in two young people feel they are “missing out” on the seemingly perfect lives that others portray through social media.
“Through social media, people are driven to seek instantly gratifying solutions to their problems and to keep up with unrealistic images. The pictures are multiple now and they are just not realistic,” Jenny said.
Social anxiety and the need for social assurance (often in the form of “likes”) are also associated with problematic Facebook addiction, one recent study has found.
Jenny said it was not enough to simply ditch your phone and think that the problem goes away.
Digital detox retreats, in the form of wellbeing programs treats the underlying cause of digital device addiction, using the same evidence-based methods used to effectively treat drug and alcohol addiction. Visit a local medical centre if you’re struggling with an increasing amount of screen time and anxiety-related symptoms.