By: Kennedy Kao
Internet addiction can cover a broad spectrum of things. There are different types of internet addicts, as one can be addicted to social media, pornography, online gaming, and much more.
Evidence suggests that people suffering from internet addiction have a similar brain makeup to those who suffer from drug and alcohol dependency. From this, we can deduce that internet addiction is an issue that needs just as much attention as other addictions – especially as the internet has become an unavoidable aspect of our daily lives. This article highlights what you need to know about internet addiction.
What Exactly is Internet Addiction?
Someone addicted to the internet shows signs of intense dependency on it in order to elevate their mood, happiness and overall well-being. While not recognized as an official clinical disorder, internet addiction is slowly becoming accepted as a global problem, as over an estimated 220 million people consider themselves addicted to the internet.
Like all addictions, a combination of biological and environmental factors influence someone’s chances of becoming addicted to the internet. Since the internet is all around us, it is easy to fall prey to the endless games, apps, and content that trigger dopamine release in our neural circuits. Existing mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can also develop into a dependency on the internet.
Signs of Internet Addiction
Many signs indicate someone might be addicted to the internet (see infographic). While excessive use is a common and evident symptom of internet addiction, there are a few other vital traits to highlight:
Constantly thinking about using the internet, especially during times when it might be inappropriate (family gatherings, formal events, etc.), is a sign of internet addiction.
Experiencing withdrawal after prolonged periods of not using the internet demonstrates an Internet addiction. Stress, anger, and depression are all common symptoms of withdrawal.
If you find yourself letting important parts of your life fall to the wayside while spending excessive time on the internet, you could be experiencing addiction. This can include straining relationships, thwarting job opportunities, or refusing to go out in public.
Consequences of Internet Addiction
The consequences of internet addiction can be dire. Internet addiction can leave someone feeling empty inside, to where they can only feel excitement when they hop on their laptop.
A study in 2018 showed that individuals with high levels of internet use were found to have low-self esteem compared to students who didn’t use the internet as often. Depression and anxiety were also reported to be associated with excessive internet usage.
Internet addicts can substitute healthy, real-life relationships for safer, virtual relationships with people they have not met in real life. While healthy bonds can be formed online, dysfunctional social habits can arise from solely making online connections.
Solutions to Internet Addiction
Rehabilitation centres such as Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centre and Last Door provide professional counselling for significant cases of internet addiction. Groups such as Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous, On-Line Gamers Anonymous, and NoFap can create a network of internet addicts that hold one another accountable for high-level internet use.
For people with a moderate addiction to the internet, there are countless self-help suggestions focused on self-restraint that can help them overcome their addiction or at least stop it from progressing. Pointers such as unplugging your router, scheduling internet time, and disabling unnecessary notifications on your phone are some helpful tactics to help curb internet addiction.
There is a diverse range of stimuli on the internet that can get someone addicted. Even though it is not recognized as a clinical disorder, it is evident that internet addiction can take a toll on our mental health. It is time to take internet addiction seriously and treat it as the addiction it is. While overcoming internet addiction can be challenging, it’s important to know that it is possible to live a quality life free from stresses related to internet use.