The Conversation Starter


Three questions crossed my mind when a friend deleted all of her social media apps because they were interfering with her daily life: Is Internet addiction a thing? When have you had too much? How could advertisers help people stay balanced?

Does screen addiction exist?

The idea of Internet addiction formally came to light in 1996 when Dr. Kimberly Young presented the first paper on the topic at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference, “Internet Addiction: The Emergence of a New Disorder.” The first Internet Congress on Internet Addiction Disorders was held in Milan in 2014. Korea, China, Japan, Australia, Italy, France and the U.S. all provide treatment for screen addiction.

How much is too much?

The average adult is already exposed to screens for about 9.5 hours a day, according to a Nielsen cross-platform report released in 2014. This amount of time can be required for your job and can be productive and educational, but compulsive use can be harmful when it interferes with daily life, work and relationships. Here are a few signs that you might need to ease up on your screen time:

  • You lose track of time online
  • You have trouble completing tasks at work or home
  • You neglect family, friends and sleep 
  • You feel guilty or defensive about your Internet use
  • You feel a sense of euphoria while involved in Internet activities
  • You experience physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome

How can advertisers help people stay balanced?

While many see advertising as intrusive, it has more potential now than ever to be helpful. Technology that can track information like your location, how many miles you run and what music you’ve been listening to is helping advertisers better target their audiences so they can offer only what people really need and want in a more convenient way.

In order to make more relevant/less intrusive ads, advertisers should to look at three things:

  • Audience (who’s viewing it, where they live, previous behavior on websites)
  • Environment (the device they are viewing it on, the context on the device—mobile web vs. mobile app)
  • Context (where the site is located)

As discussed at the 2014 Ad-Tech conference in San Francisco, mobile is about the moment. It’s about figuring out how to insert a message naturally into someone’s day without being intrusive. It’s about offering contextually relevant rewards if people meet a goal (e.g., a certain number of miles per week on RunKeeper) or arrive at a location. So could advertising provide a balance between the screen and real life activities?

Do you think there is a way for advertisers to provide helpful and relevant information to the consumer without fueling screen addiction? Let us know in the comments.

Share: Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

One Comment

  • Serry 2 months ago Reply

    Yes, I think advertisers have a way to provide helpful, relevant information without fueling screen addiction, though I doubt they would use it. They might provide the information without links, and providing only non-screen contact information (snail mail address, street address). But perhaps screen addiction is an advantage to them, or perhaps electronic contact is too advantageous economically, for the advertisers to use this way.

Submit a Comment