Reality Check: Volunteering helps man overcome Internet addiction

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PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT/WYMT) - Billy Carroll can tell you a lot about being a volunteer firefighter. At 18, he's on the younger end of the spectrum and fairly new to the department.

"I've always had a passion to help people. I've wanted to be a cop since I was little," he said.

But that passion wasn't the only reason he joined. For Billy, becoming a volunteer firefighter was an escape.

"It got to the point I was staying up 72-78 hours straight, just sitting in front of the computer doing things with it. You don't see it coming until you've actually got addicted to it and then it's too late," said Carroll.

According to the website, one in eight Americans suffers from Internet addiction. For Carroll, that addiction took the form of Facebook.

"Games, oh my god, has to be the worst thing Facebook has ever came out with.

Eastern Kentucky University psychology professor Dan Florell says online games are notorious for sucking people in.

"They fine-tune these online games and several other things that kind of keep you wanting to be on. If you've ever had that feeling of "I want to quit, but I can't,'," said Dr. Florell.

Carroll knows that feeling well.

"You go back to Facebook just to follow somebody and see their updates and guess what happens. You're right back on the game again, just because you see it pop up on the screen,"

He said living in a rural area makes those ties to his computer even stronger.

"You have to drive miles to get to me. You resort to the internet because you're not going to drive an hour and a half just to meet somebody. You're not going to do it, not when you can meet on Facebook," said Carroll.

Carroll recognized he had a problem and tried to find a way to force himself away from the screen.

"Joining the fire department was what helped me because I got out of the house a lot more. Just sitting here like this you can get a call and you're out the door, you have to go, you don't have an option," he said.

He's turned his back on the world of Facebook games.

"They call you on the phone and tell you to get on Facebook and accept a game request," said Carroll.

Even though he says he's come a long way, those pesky notifications can still get the best of him.

"It's kind of killing me to know that I'm not answering that Facebook message when I should be," he said.

But Carroll said he's learned there are more important things in life than a little red dot on the screen.

"You get out and do that and you realize, 'Hey, I'm doing something for myself and trying to improve,' You can't sit here in front of that computer and expect to do other things," he said.