Internet Addiction and how Gardening could help
Shahida Kausar Farooq
Gardening is a healthy hobby. It is not just good for the environment but also is beneficial to hobbyists including their well-being.
Scientific studies have proved that spending time with plants brings many health benefits; stress relief included! The significance of mental health has become more important as we are getting disconnected from nature. Although modern technology has made our lives easier, it also is adversely affecting our wellbeing in many different ways. Misuse of the internet is one example of technology’s side effects. As the internet becomes more accessible, people are increasingly spending a large part of their leisure time on screens. Social media or Internet obsession is now being classified as a behavioral addiction. Unchecked urbanization with shrinking greenbelts and parks can also be considered as a push factor behind this problem. And this isn’t just about wasting precious time but spending prolonged hours on screens without a meaningful purpose is adversely affecting people’s health. Lack of physical activity can lead to joint pain, hypertension, weakened immunity and most importantly, poor mental health. It can disturb your sleep, exacerbate depression and anxiety and may also lead to violent behavior, particularly if you’re addicted to playing video games or watching content containing violence.
Engaging youth in constructive outdoor activities is the first step in solving this problem. I was supervising the spring plantation and clean up activity at KMC Sports Complex Karachi about 3 months ago. Along with local staff, I also tried engaging the park visitors to become our volunteer. Some good citizens joined the activities and we worked together to improve the park’s garden and jogging track which was in an abysmal state.
One of the volunteers is a young man who revealed that he’s facing the same problem; internet addiction leading to severe mental stress and insomnia. He’d spend hours watching useless videos and playing games with very little physical activity and social life. However, as he became our volunteer and started taking part in gardening, he began to experience improvement. Less internet usage, better quality sleep and lower stress level all because of turning to nature! In fact, we are naturally attracted to nature; seeing green trees with amazing wildlife relieves stress and make us happy. Therapeutic Gardening is an experts’ recommended treatment for addiction recovery.
It is time to reconsider our priorities; we must restore the lost urban greenery to fix environmental damage while providing youth a healthy alternative to internet addiction. The government should make new parks and to improve the condition of existing ones. And as a socially responsible citizen, keeping these parks clean is our collective responsibility. Public awareness campaigns to attract youth towards nature may also help. Schools, colleges and corporate business organizations should conduct such activities encouraging the public to adopt a green and healthy lifestyle. Providing security also is important as the citizens, particularly the women and children, are afraid of going out due to the rapid rise in street crime incidents.