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Curb your digital addiction with these resolutions

Esther J. Cepeda on

CHICAGO -- You know internet addiction is a real thing when you pick up a magazine targeted at young men and you find a "My Digital Detox" confessional.

Writing in Men's Health, author Joel Stein describes addiction to screens so profound that people have neglected showering for weeks or been kicked out of their homes for not doing anything besides playing video games.

Stein checked himself into a rehab facility for online addicts after learning that he uses his phone for two and a half hours per day, not including the hours spent on his laptop. Afterward, he understood that the firehose of digital stimuli had dulled his real-life senses: "I had gotten so weak at feeling emotions that I'd gotten bad at feeling happy, too."

There are now piles of research showing that people who spend a lot of time on social media feel more depression, inadequacy and dissatisfaction with their lives than those who don't.

The constant exposure to posts that were specially crafted to make their users look flawless, happy, affluent and exciting either causes people to feel bad about themselves or, particularly in the case of young adults, increases their levels of anxious striving.

According to one recent study published in the American Psychological Association's "Psychological Bulletin," perfectionism has increased over the past 27 years among college students. The authors "speculate that this may be because, generally, American, Canadian and British cultures have become more individualistic, materialistic and socially antagonistic over this period, with young people now facing more competitive environments, more unrealistic expectations, and more anxious and controlling parents than generations before."

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Add to this the beginning-of-year assumption that self-improvement is essential for a worthwhile 2018, and there has been a crush of hand-wringing articles, editorials and blog posts about needing to do something about social and digital media dependency.

It's a good idea to quell an addiction, however small, to electronic devices. But the usual roadblock to making positive, healthy changes -- at the new year or any other time -- is that our approach is almost always to reduce, restrict or abstain. It's one that usually fails.

How about adding on to your digital duties instead?

Here are a few of the "fix it and forget it" type of resolutions you can make:

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