The increasing popularity of smartphones these days has led to the growing rate of internet addiction across the globe, and now also in Japan. This is happening particularly among youngsters and is becoming a major social problem in the country.
There are various kinds of internet addiction that include internet games, bonding addiction (e.g. social media), content addiction (e.g. videos) and internet gambling. However, the bonding addiction appears to be relentless.
Social media bonding is becoming more and more important in everyday life in Japan where tightening their ties with their friends and family is, in fact, one of their most popular past-times. Also, more emphasis was placed on bonding since the occurrence of a major catastrophe that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant on March 2011. Since then, social media became a tool to send and receive information in the aftermath of the disaster. The growth of social media addiction in Japan is also in part a result of people relieving their psychological stress rather than confessing to a professional psychotherapist.
Bonding addiction is the most common type of internet addiction in Japan and it involves the use of social media like Mixi, Facebook and Twitter. Bonding addicts spend an average of 36.6 minutes per day just looking at the status of their friends in their social media account and spend an average of another 28.4 minutes just to write their own posts.
As the culture of conformity in Japan permeates in every member of the nation, Japanese people have the tendency, therefore, to group into a village type of society. With the strong pressure to act, in the same way, anyone who goes against the currents will probably end up being ignored or ostracized by other members of the group. While social media was designed for asynchronous communication, bonding addiction has turned social media into a synchronous one where people are urged to respond immediately at any time and place.
Thus, bonding addicts have a compulsive behavior to maintain their access to social media such that, many choose to continue using their smartphones when they are crossing the pedestrian line, taking a bath, using the toilet or going to sleep.
So, next time you’re out and about anywhere in Japan, take a look around and see this realization for yourself. Perhaps this may make you consider ‘unplugging’ just for a moment to enjoy the beauty and excitement of your surroundings instead.