The internet undeniably plays a part in many different types of anxiety. However, not all of these interactions between anxiety and the internet are negative.
First, the internet presents a safe place for those with social anxiety. The fear of physical, social interaction causes social anxiety. The internet allows them to develop relationships online, away from the fear of physical interactions. To some, this may seem like a way to avoid their illness. In reality, the internet allows people with social anxiety to live a more normal life without the crippling fear they find in social interaction. However, it’s unhealthy to only interact with others online. Additionally, connecting one’s self-worth with their online presence can be dangerous.
As much as it helps, the internet can sometimes harm those who suffer from anxiety. Over the past ten years, anxiety and depression rates have skyrocketed along with the increase in technology use. This is especially true of users under 30. The internet offers a never-ending flow of information. On one hand, this is positive. It’s never been easier to obtain information, communicate and be productive. However, it also causes information overloads. Our brains can only do so much at one time, whereas the internet and social media encourage a culture of extreme multitasking. This ultimately diminishes our ability to focus. This creates anxiety, as people fear that they can’t keep up.
Additionally, the internet has made it very easy to access and do professional work from anywhere at anytime. While this does increase productivity, it absolutely causes anxiety. People feel a constant pressure to get work done. It becomes harder to separate work time from home time. This causes anxiety in relationships as well as in the workplace.
Social media is a huge issue as well. Through social media, we stay constantly connected with others across the globe. However, this isn’t always a good thing. Teens and young adults compare themselves to others on social media. They feel a lot of pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way, get engaged at a certain time or have enough likes on their latest post. This causes feelings of inadequacy, which causes anxiety and leads to depression in teens. Not to mention that the rise in social media contributes to cyberbullying, which causes stress, anxiety and depression for its victims.
When talking about anxiety, there’s one thing you need to know first: anxiety is a medical condition. This means it’s as real and diagnosable as diabetes or high blood pressure. If you, your child or your student experiences symptoms of anxiety, talk to a medical professional. In their care, anxiety can be diagnosed and treated effectively.
Text by Amy Haupt