While walking my dog a few days back, I witnessed something you might have considered bizarre just a few years ago. A man stopped his blue car in the middle of the street, stepped out, filmed himself wildly gesticulating as in a rap video—presumably for Snapchat—then drove off. Such is life in 2018, where the version of ourselves we present online seems to be more important than the one we’re actually living.
We all have that friend who genuinely seems incapable of getting off of his or her phone—the type who swipes through Tinder while on a Tinder date, who makes brunch plans with friends on Facebook while at brunch with another pair of friends, who can’t stand in a grocery line for one minute without mindlessly checking at least four different apps.
Unfortunately, according to recent data, more and more Americans are turning into this smartphone-obsessed person.
The Pew Research Center found that 26 percent of American adults admit to being online “almost constantly,” up from 21 percent in 2015. Another 43 percent admitted to going online “several times a day.” Only 8 percent of Americans reported going online just once a day.
As one would expect, the majority of Internet addicts are under the age of 50. Thirty-nine percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 and 36% of adults between the ages of 30 and 49 admitted to being online “almost constantly.” Interestingly, there also seemed to be somewhat of a correlation between income and time spent online, as 35% of those who made $75,000 or more reported being online nonstop, versus only 23% of those who made between $50,000 and $75,000.
Other demographics that seemed especially prone to being online 24/7 included college-educated adults, African Americans, and those who live in non-rural areas.
While it has yet to happen in America, many countries-such as Australia, China, Japan, India, Italy, Japan, Korea and Taiwan–have officially recognized tech addiction as a mental disorder. The concern over what some experts refer to as “digital heroin” is strong enough that Jana Partners and the CalSTRS, two major Apple investors, recently put public pressure on Apple to address the highly addictive qualities of the iPhone and their long term risks.
Concerned about how much time you spend online? Read 20 Signs You’re Addicted to Your Smartphone to see if you need help.
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