The rapid advancement of technology has revolutionized the way we communicate, access information, and engage with the world. However, with the proliferation of smartphones and easy access to the internet has brought numerous benefits to the society by enabling access to information, however, an alarming concern has emerged and led to internet addiction among the youth. Kiambu County is not immune to this phenomenon. By this, this article aims to explore the prevalence of internet addiction among the youth in Kiambu County while also examining its impact on their well-being.
Kiambu County which is located in the central region of Kenya is a home to diverse population. It comprises of about twelve sub-counties, including Kiambu, Ruiru, Thika, Juja, Lari, Gatundu North, Gatundu South, Kabete, Kikuyu, and Kiambaa. Within these sub-counties, several cities have experienced rapid urbanization and technological advancement.
In the recent years, the youth in Kiambu County have increasingly fallen victim to internet addiction. The easy accessibility of smartphones, social media platforms, online gaming and other online activities has contributed to the rise in addiction rates. According to the recent surveys conducted among the youth aged 15-24, it is estimated that approximately 25% of the youth population in Kiambu County is affected by internet addiction.
Thika Sub-county; Thika is a major city in Kiambu County and it faces a significant challenge with internet addiction among its youth. With the presence of several universities and colleges, the access to the internet is widespread. Online gaming, social media and adult content websites are the leading causes of addiction in Thika.
Juja Sub-county; Juja is renowned for hosting Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), and this has a large population of tech-savvy youth. The availability of high-speed internet and tech-oriented communities has contributed to the prevalence of internet addiction in this area. Online gaming, social media and excessive use of educational resources online are key factors.
Kiambu Sub-county; Kiambu is the county’s administrative capital. It experiences a high prevalence of internet addiction. The rapid urbanization and availability of high-speed internet has led to increased dependence on digital platforms. Social media, online gaming and streaming services are particularly popular among the youth, leading to excessive internet use and addiction.
Ruiru Sub-county; Ruiru Municipality – The County Government Of Kiambu is a growing urban center and has witnessed a rise in internet addiction cases among the youth. The affordability of smartphones and data packages has facilitated widespread internet usage. Online gambling, social media, and video streaming platforms are primary sources of addiction in this sub-county.
Other sub-counties such as Lari, Gatundu North, Gatundu South, Githunguri, Kabete, Limuru, Kikuyu, and Kiambaa also experience varying levels of internet addiction among the youth. Factors such as access to smartphones, socio-economic backgrounds, and peer pressure contribute to the addiction rates in these areas.
Several factors contribute to the internet addiction problem in Kiambu County. Firstly, the lack of awareness and education about the potential risks of excessive internet use is a major issue. Additionally, peer influence, loneliness, and escapism play significant roles.
The allure of social media platforms also plays a significant role in internet addiction. The need for validation, the fear of missing out (FOMO) and the constant comparison with peers on these platforms lead to addictive behaviors. Additionally, the accessibility of online gaming platforms offers an immersive and addictive experience, often leading to excessive gaming habits.
Furthermore, the lack of alternative recreational activities and limited awareness about potential dangers of excessive internet use contribute to the problem. Many youths in Kiambu County have limited access to extracurricular activities or recreational facilities, making the internet their primary source of entertainment and engagement.
Internet addiction can have severe consequences on the well-being and development of the youth in Kiambu County. Academic performance is significantly affected as excessive internet use leads to a decline in study time, reduced focus, and poor time management. Moreover, internet addiction can lead to social isolation, deteriorating relationships, and hindered social skills development. The constant need for online validation may also impact self-esteem and mental health.
Physical health is also not exempted from the detrimental effects of internet addiction. Prolonged periods of sitting, poor siting posture, and lack of physical activity contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to obesity, musculoskeletal problems and other associated problems.
Addressing internet addiction requires a comprehensive approach involving multiple stakeholders. The following measures can be implemented:
Education and awareness; raising awareness about internet addiction through school programs, community workshops, and media campaigns can help parents, teachers, and the youth understand the risks and signs of addiction. Providing information on healthy internet usage is very crucial.
Counseling and support: establishing counseling services and support groups specifically targeting internet addiction can provide assistance to the affected individuals. Qualified professionals can be essential to guide the youth in guiding the youth into developing healthy digital health habits and coping mechanisms.
Parental Involvement: educating parents about the potential risks of excessive internet use and the importance of monitoring their children’s online activities is essential. Encouraging open communication and setting boundaries will also help prevent addiction.
Collaboration with Internet service providers: working closely with the internet service providers in order to implement age-appropriate content filters, data management tools, and time restrictions can limit excessive internet usage among the youth.
Engaging in offline activities: promoting extracurricular activities such as sports and community involvement can provide alternative sources of entertainment and help reduce reliance on the internet.
In conclusion, internet addiction among the youth in Kiambu County is a growing concern that demands immediate attention. By addressing the issue through education, counseling, parental involvement, and collaboration with internet service providers the county can work towards mitigating this arising menace among the youths in Kiambu County.