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Hyperconnection: 3 psychological consequences of excessive Internet use

Hyperconnection: 3 psychological consequences of excessive Internet use

July 14, 2024

Nobody doubts that Internet has revolutionized the world of interpersonal relationships and other aspects of our daily life: nowadays it is possible to go shopping with a single click from our smartphone, study from the comfort of our own home with our computer and even receive psychotherapy sessions with a psychologist that is thousands of kilometers away away from us. Thanks to the technological offer it is possible to work, study, have fun and even meet a couple using the Internet connection.

New technologies have been a new paradigm for communication, and this has its advantages but also its negative consequences, because the daily life of millions of people can be absorbed by "hyperconnection", a term that refers to how people we are constantly connected to the digital world.

And although the Internet does not have to be bad, its inappropriate use can have serious repercussions for the well-being of people and even in the identity formation of children and adolescents. What risks does hyperconnection bring? How does the excess use of the Internet affect our self-esteem and our personal exposure? In this article I will talk about the psychological consequences of excessive Internet use.

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The birth of the "digital culture"

Only a few decades ago we entered a new era with great repercussions for humanity, the so-called "digital era". Technological advances, the appearance of computer science and the Internet connection changed all the evolution of our time. It was not long ago, hardly since the beginning of the new century, when the majority of the Spanish population began to use the Internet. It was then that we landed in the interconnected world , something that became more noticeable with the appearance of smartphones.

The interconnected world brings about changes in the relationships between states, companies and even people. We are not witnessing a time of change, but rather we are facing a change of era. Some people were born in the analog world and others in the digital world. Anyway, at present, we all live immersed in the digital revolution and all we have contact with ICTs on a daily basis: forums, chats, blogs ...

In this context our habits, our way of life, our customs and even our language have been transformed. Our culture is "the digital culture".

Overdose of Internet connection and social networks: hyperconnection

Is it bad to be connected to the Internet? Logically, no. The emergence of the Internet has allowed great advances for our civilization: it provides access to a large amount of information freely and freely, facilitates access to science, culture and leisure , enables the connection with other people from practically any place in the world, facilitates the learning process by offering new educational opportunities, allows new forms of commerce, etc.

However, many psychologists and educators warn of the harmful use of this phenomenon, and put the spotlight on some risks and some negative consequences of excessive use of the Internet. In the eyes of Alejandro Artopoulos, professor at the School of Education, "Hyperconnection can bring unhealthy effects for many subjects." In the same line, my partner and friend, the psychologist Juan Armando Corbin, "in his article" Nomophobia: the growing addiction to mobile phone ", makes a review of the influence that smartphones have on our mental health and emotional balance.

In its text, it provides data on some research in this regard, especially the study carried out jointly by the United Kingdom Post Office and the YouGo Demoscopic Institute, which was carried out in 2011. This research had 2,163 subjects, and the results revealed that 53% of mobile phone users in this country feel anxiety (comparable to what a person can have the day before your wedding) if your phone runs out of battery, is broken or lost. In addition, 55% of the subjects said "feeling isolated" when they did not have a cell phone. Experts claim that these symptoms are characteristic of Nomophobia or mobile phone addiction.

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Risks of hyperconnection

New technologies provide us with new forms of relationship and communication and provide access to information in record time. But what risks does hyperconnection entail?

Psychologists have identified some negative consequences associated with excessive Internet use.

1. Relative to type and access to information

Access to information or knowledge is one of the great advantages of using the Internet; However, the excess of information of any kind can generate stress and can have consequences at the functional level, as explained in this article: "Infoxication: how to combat excess information".

It should also be noted that ICT is a source of education in values, and not all the information we receive through this medium is of quality. In this sense, the educational community takes time making efforts to try to minimize the impact of new technologies in the education of children and young people. Minors have a large amount of information of all kinds available (violent content, pornography, etc.), without any type of control. Being hyperconnected, yes, can exhaust us psychologically, and can be a problem if we do not educate the little ones in the use of new technologies. It is not that the new technologies are harmful, but the misuse of these can bring consequences for the well-being of people.

2. Relating to personal relationships

It is possible to affirm that Internet favors many interpersonal relationships and that it brings together many people who, otherwise, would hardly have contact with other individuals. However, hyperconnection is also favoring the creation of weak links between many people, superficial and liquid links, which can cause great discomfort and a sense of emptiness. In the article "3 ways in which social networks destroy our relationships" you can find examples of this phenomenon.

In the case of couple relationships, infidelities and separations have increased as a result of the hyperconnection to social networks. Further, Instagram, Facebook or WhatsApp can cause many conflicts and misinterpretations in relationships as some research shows.

As stated in a study published in the journal Cyberpsychology & Behavior, there is a possibility that Facebook is acting as a driver of couple conflicts and episodes of latticework.

3. Relating to the creation of identity and self-esteem

One of the major changes that has occurred in recent years due to Internet access has to do with interpersonal relations, as I mentioned in the previous point. And it is that, especially in adolescence, contact with friends has a great involvement in the formation of identity .

In a showcase such as social networks, which expose a fictitious image of oneself and others, and that foster a society in which the virtual is mixed with the real, it is easy to see insecurity and bad at these ages. self-image, something that can be dragged during the rest of the life. The formation of the identity goes together with the personality, and in these years it is key to build a healthy identity and a resistant personality.

In fact, when using social networks, it is common to think that the lives of others are more interesting than ours, something that impacts considerably on our self-esteem. This is what is known as FOMO syndrome (Fear of missing out) or fear of missing something.

Is Social Media Hurting Your Mental Health? | Bailey Parnell | TEDxRyersonU (July 2024).

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