The headlines in a popular tabloid on a supermarket rack caught my eye this week.

Are young people becoming addicted to the internet?

Another news article referred to the internet as a ‘digital drug.’

As with each of my novels, the plot is usually driven by a social issue which nags at me, makes me want to shed light on, and hopefully find some balance and meaning via the resolution in the narrative. My latest novella, Stalkbook highlights the influence social media has on our perceptions of ourselves and others, and on the dynamics of our relationships, especially amongst young people like the main characters Gilly and Dylan and their student friends.

Similarly, my previous novel, Blue Is The Object draws attention to the easy accessibility of pornography for young people and the darker side of our hyper-sexualised culture, which the heroine Azur and best friend Nikki get caught up in. Another concern today is how social media is contributing to a rise in narcissistic behaviour, the impact of which is explored in The Life Coach Less Travelled through the voices of those close to, and who suffer from, the scheming protaganist, Su Litigio.

The reports suggest that the actual cases of young people showing symptoms of clinical addiction remain relatively low, and there is not enough evidence to determine whether underlying personality traits and/or mental health problems are caused by, or contribute to, obsession and addiction to the internet, gaming and social media. However, there seems to be little doubt that the consequences of our online engagement, and the potential of the internet to shape our behaviour and even our brains, is a very modern problem most adults are probably conscious of at some level, and the need to be aware and alert to the nature of the risks involved.