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A mental health specialist says that while technology is here to stay, it's good to be aware of the benefits and pitfalls it can bring. 

"The impact of internet and social media use has been an intriguing and alarming topic to explore. One of the most alarming impacts of spending too much time on our devices is how we can begin to lose our empathy, lose our feelings," says Terry Warburton, the Clinical Director at Recovery of Hope Counselling in Winnipeg. 

She says that the constant feeling of needing to check our devices is actually because of something happening in our brain. 

"In many ways, this technology frees us to do many things, and it doesn’t matter where we are geographically. That’s amazing! In some ways though, we have also become enslaved by our devices. Is the smart phone beneficial or is it a detriment." 

Warburton says that if people don’t make a plan, the pull of the notifications and the curiosity of the latest text will win. 

"Do you think introverts or extroverts would be more likely to be overly connected to their phone? I found the answer to this question to be very interesting. Extroverts tend to like being the life of the party and it is more important to them to feel very connected with others so tend to rely more on their phones. Introverts, on the other hand, don’t necessarily share this need to connect and so might be less inclined to spend a lot of time on their smart phone."

As a counsellor, Warburton sees clients suffering from depression. Interestingly, there is a correlation between depression and social media use. 

"Do people who are depressed and dissatisfied with life tend to lean more on social media? The answer has turned out to be no. It is true that social media use can cause depression, but depressed people aren’t necessarily more likely to go to social media."

The amount of time people spend on their devices has become a problem, according to Warburton.

"The smart phone and the access to social media and online information is not the problem. The problem is in the fact that for many people, there is a powerful pull that comes from the devices that sometimes feel impossible to resist. The device, the apps, the social media, the followers are pulling us in. It’s a call that we feel we can’t resist."

The issues that come from constant use of a device continues to grow. 

"It’s having a very negative impact on our mental health and the quality of our lives and relationships. We are spending a lot of time in an online world and not connecting in a real way with other humans - the kind of connections that grow us and heal us."

Finding a solution to this issue is in turning inward. 

"The answer is in each of us discovering why we are so inclined to spend so much time online and to learn to understand ourselves better so that we can make decisions for ourselves, and not our devices making the decisions for us."

Eden Health Care services is hosting a free webinar on October 6, and Warburton will be speaking on the topic of social media addiction. 

"I encourage you to come join us! If you are struggling with this, please make a decision to get some help and support to change your relationship with your device and internet use. Or if there are other things that are going on in your life that are getting in the way of you living a life that feels purposeful and vibrant to you, please reach out for help. It will be worth it! We can’t heal alone."