Once upon a time, things were different. We played outdoors, read bedtime stories to our children, went swimming on our weekends, and had time for little family outings. Perhaps we still do all of that, but according to increasing number of researchers, these are fast becoming things of the past. In fact, quicker than most thought.

Books have given into Kindles and iPads and the smartphone in hand has replaced real world conversations. The Internet with its endless buffet of videos, games, shopping and social media activities is slowly taking over life as we once knew it and psychologists even say it is driving users to the brink of insanity.

A study funded by the Indian Council for Medical Research last year on 2,750 subjects in the age group of 18-40 years in select urban communities across India showed an alarming rate of technology dependency.

Another study conducted by marketing agency Digital Clarity in the UK determined that about 16% of 18- to 25-year-olds displayed symptoms of net addiction.

Although internet addiction is not formally recognized in India as a mental illness, but according to BookMeIn, an online marketplace for services, it has witnessed a surge in the number of cases of internet/computer/e-shopping/ games/mobile addiction. Availability of consultants online, however, has made the rehabilitation process easier and made it comfortable for the patients to connect with their doctors.

Siddharth Dalal, co-founder of BookMeIn, who spoke to NextBigWhat says that his company is working with psychologists for the past 6-7 months to educate people about the issue, as he believes awareness is the only way out of the predicament.

“When we started, we had 3-4 such queries in a month, now we average that in a week,” he says.

He is been running social media campaigns and is even planning to conduct workshops for students in schools and colleges starting in Mumbai to build awareness.

He says that excessive internet usage can create dependence and addiction, neurologically and physically.

Few know that the late Apple chief Steve Jobs didn’t let his own children have iPads. “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” he is quoted to have said.

Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs, a biography which was adapted into a film said in an interview to New York Times that, “every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or a computer,” he said. “The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

We cannot stop the internet, or stop people from using it, but what we can do is to find a balance and to put a break. That’s what we can do and need to do, he opines.

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