What is Internet Addiction?
To begin with, there is no clear definition of Internet Addiction. However, if we were to generally describe it – it is a behavioural addiction in which a person becomes heavily dependent on the use of internet, or other online devices as a maladaptive way of dealing with life’s stresses.
It is also sometimes called – Computer Addiction, Problematic Internet Use (PIU) or Compulsive Internet Use.
But I like using the internet and I use it a lot? Am I an Internet Addict?
The internet is a great place with lots of information and scope to learn. It is also crucial in today’s world for students, teachers, parents and office goers. But just because you use the internet for watching videos online, for shopping or checking social media, it does mean you are suffering from Internet Addiction Disorder. The problem comes when these activities start to interfere with your daily life. An Internet Addict will have problems filling personal and professional obligations because of their online activities. It can cause a strain on their relationship with their family and friends.
So how and when can I know that my friends, children or I am suffering from Internet Addiction Disorder?
Internet Addiction is not formally recognised as an addictive disorder, so it can be difficult to diagnose. However, you can find out if a person is suffering from Internet Addiction Disorder if you see these symptoms.
- You have thoughts about previous online activity and anticipation of next online session.
- Increased use of internet results in a feeling of satisfaction.
- Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to control, cut back or stop internet use.
- Feelings of irritation, restlessness, moodiness and anger in absence of internet or when trying to cut down internet use.
- Sleep deprivation and exhaustion from staying up too late on the computer.
- Grades and other achievements may suffer from too much attention being devoted to internet use.
- Little or no energy for anything except computer use. Apart from these, there can also be some physical symptoms like:
- Failing to eat or eating excessively to avoid being away from computer result in poor health.
- Dry eyes or other vision problems.
Is there anything else I should know about Internet Addiction?
There are 5 types of internet addiction that can affect you based on your age, interest and peer pressure.
Cyber sexual: Cybersex and internet pornography.
Mostly people who are either too burdened with their work or are bored experience this.
Net compulsion: Online gambling, shopping or stock trading.
Recently retired persons who are looking for “thrill” may experience this.
Cyber-relationships: Social media, online dating and virtual communication.
The younger generation because of peer-pressure or to create their own image experience this.
This again affects the younger generation.
Information seeking: Web surfing or searches
This affects all age groups alike. Sometimes, we get carried away with all the information online and lose track of time which can negatively affect us.
What are the treatment options that I can take for Internet Addiction Disorder?
Like any other problem, the first step is to recognise the problem. If you do not believe that there is a problem, you will never seek a solution. There has to be insight about the problem, and a willingness to change.
Since this is the internet we are talking about, the opinion is always divided between how much usage is too much usage and whether or not a treatment is even required. Some people even believe it to be a “fad illness” which can resolve itself. But when it comes to children, this approach hardly ever works unless we put some corrective measures in place.
- There are some software that can be installed to control the Internet use and the types of sites that can be visited. It is advised not to eliminate the use of internet completely.
- There is also recreational therapy which can help reduce screen time.
- Physical activity and games are found to be highly effective in reducing screen time.
- Self-assessment is another way to control internet use like keeping track of non-essential internet use and making a list of all the things you enjoy doing that do not include using the internet.
- Medications may be used to manage symptoms of any underlying mental illnesses and to control thoughts about going online.
What can my next steps be?
If you recognise the symptoms of Internet Addiction in yourself or your dear ones, reach out for professional help. Internet Addiction can have devastating effects on individuals, families and particularly teens and growing children. Getting help may greatly change the quality of life.
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