Have you ever heard of Internet addiction or Internet addiction disorder? These terms may sound surprising to you, but they do exist!
Well, honestly, are you addicted to the Internet?
I’m sorry if I scared you, but that was not my intention. I just want to create some awareness about Internet addiction and the ways you can avoid it.
Some of you probably would agree that the Internet is addictive to a certain degree, but you might argue about Internet addiction being termed as a disorder.
Whether Internet addiction is a disorder or not is still a debatable topic among the experts.
However, let me make this clear – it is not the Internet that is harmful, but the addiction to Internet activities that might harm you in different ways.
As a rule, excess of anything is bad. In addition, dependency on anything apart from the basic conditions for living is not good.
This general principle applies even for the use of the Internet.
However, a regular Internet user might call this as much absurd as he or she considers the sitting disease to be.
“Internet addiction disorder? – You must be out of your mind! Today, nothing works without the Internet, and it’s as essential as breathing, so how can it be a disorder?”
I can understand such frustrating statements, coming especially from the youth. 🙂
Most teens are badly addicted to the Internet, but bloggers and the Internet marketers are not far behind either!
True, the Internet is essential, but engaging excessively in online activities can be dangerous.
Let’s know more about the addiction and disorder theories regarding the Internet.
An Overview of Contents
What is Internet Addiction
Now you know that addiction is a sort of dependency or a habit that you find hard to break. In fact, addiction is a habit that goes out of bounds.
In addiction, the habit begins to rule over the person, who loses control over it.
At a certain point, the consequences of such habits become harmful and detrimental to your health and productivity.
The worst stage is when a person becomes dependent on the habit, which starts to interfere with his or her daily life, work, and relationships.
Therefore, Internet addiction is the use of excessive Internet such that it begins to interfere with your daily life and absorbs much of your time.
I repeat that the use of Internet is not bad.
It only becomes a problem when you spend a lot of time online and neglect your relationships, work, or other important things in your life.
The Center for Internet Addiction founded by Dr. Kimberly Young defines Internet addiction as –
Any online-related, compulsive behavior, which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.
Internet addiction is also called “Internet dependency or Internet compulsivity”. The term Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) was used as early as the late 90s.
According to Wikipedia, Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is now more commonly called “problematic internet use” or “compulsive internet use”.
Who is an Internet Addict
An Internet addict is a person who gives priority to the Internet over his or her family, friends, and work.
Internet addicts can be students, homemakers, executives, bloggers, and internet marketers, besides people from other walks of life.
The Internet becomes the center of their life. Internet addicts even sacrifice what they like in the real world in order to be online.
If you can’t stop yourself from online gambling, shopping, gaming, browsing, networking, or even checking your mails and status on your computer or mobile even if it has negative consequences in your life, then you may be an Internet addict yourself! Are you one?
Why Do People Become Addicted to The Internet
I don’t think people willingly become Internet addicts.
Either circumstances lead them this way or they face some kind of problems in life, which subconsciously forces them to make such a choice.
Apart from genuine work related reasons, addiction to the Internet could be to relieve unpleasant and overwhelming personal feelings.
Internet and its online activities often becomes an outlet for anxiety, loneliness, stress, and depression.
The net becomes an escape route or an easily accessible outlet to avoid problems or soothe one’s own self.
It then becomes a new world and its online activities become more important than the real world activities and duties.
One of the reasons why people tend to be obsessed with the Internet is because of its easy accessibility, control, and the excitement that it provides.
Therefore, if you suffer from anxiety, stress, depressions, lack of social support, and unhappiness – then you could be at risk of being an Internet addict, if you use the Internet.
However, you should know that there are healthier alternatives to deal with such unpleasant feelings such as meditation, exercises, practicing relaxation techniques, and real life social engagements.
Kinds of Internet Addictions
The Internet is just a medium for a vast range of online activities such as online gaming, shopping, viewing internet movies, pornography, checking email, social networking, and even blogging.
According to Wikipedia, compulsive online gaming, online gambling, stock trading, and the use of online auction sites are all classified as categories of Internet Addiction.
Initially, the term Internet Addiction broadly related to net compulsions, computer gaming, cyber relationships, cyber sex, and information and research.
However, now Internet addiction is categorized into 5 subtypes:
As evident, it includes compulsive use of adult websites.
Internet pornography is a part of this addiction, including excessive use of the adult chat sites. Sex addicts have a way to fulfill their addiction.
Now, this includes the addiction to social networking in all forms.
While such online relationships often fail, over-involvement in online relationships causes virtual online friends to become more important than real-life family and friends.
Other compulsive online activities like day-trading, gambling, and shopping are included here.
Though not all stock exchange brokers and workers suffer from this addiction, but those who wish to realize their fantasies of being rich, fall for it.
I do a lot of online research, but as that is related to my work, it isn’t an addiction. However, if I overdo it and let it rule over my offline life, it becomes an addiction.
Compulsive web surfers or database searchers are included here if their online activity leads to lower work productivity and less social interactions.
Obsessive computer game playing is included here as an addiction, and even obsessive computer programming.
Do you want to know if you are addicted to the Internet or not? For that, you need to go through the various signs and symptoms exhibited by the internet addicts.
10 Signs and Symptoms of Internet Addiction
It’s the symptoms and warning signs you first see that might help you to diagnose the problem, disease, or in this case addiction.
The signs and symptoms of Internet addiction would vary from person to person, though a general guideline is helpful to self-diagnose and understand the problem.
If you experience the following then you may have to reconsider your Internet usage.
1) Preoccupation with the Internet
The thoughts of your online activities are on your mind ALL the time. You think about them 24×7 – while you eat, work, or even when you sleep – and forgo these to be online.
2) Increased use of the Internet
You increase your Internet time to achieve satisfaction. You act on the impulse or strong urge to indulge more in the online activity.
3) Lose track of time
You intended to stay online for a few minutes and end up spending a few hours online. It happens often with me. How about you?
4) Dislike interruptions
Concentration while working is good, but you start getting irritated when your online activity is interrupted. You’re disturbed if you have to cut short your online time.
5) Lack of control
You’re not able to stop or cutback on your Internet usage. Your repeated efforts to do so are unsuccessful and you feel helpless.
6) Feelings of uneasiness
If you cannot access the Internet, it makes you feel uneasy, restless, and depressed. You become sad, irritated, or angry if you are stopped from being online.
7) Lack of empathy
You develop disinterest in your family members, friends, or near and dear ones. You don’t miss them and their presence or absence makes no difference to you.
8) Use of lies
You lie to others, including your family members, about your online activities. You conceal the extent of your Internet involvement so you can continue using it for longer durations.
9) Careless attitude
You become least bothered about your work, studies, assignments, relationships, or responsibilities. Your focus remains on your online activities and you suffer on other fronts.
10) Using as an outlet
You use the Internet as an outlet for your sad feelings, to change your mood, to seek excitement or sexual gratification, and feel a sense of euphoria while doing so.
There can be many more signs and symptoms of Internet addiction, which I’m sure you’ll share in your comments.
In short, any online activity or indulgence that takes you away from the reality or real world and disrupts your life or others’ lives indirectly is Internet addiction.
Addiction to the Internet eventually destroys your life and makes you unhappy.
If you are a blogger, then you have to be more careful and aware of the problem of Internet addiction.
You need to be personally accountable and responsible to limit your Internet usage and project yourself as a role model for the younger generation.
Find better ways to be happy with yourself and spend quality time with your family. A little self-discipline and self-control will bring happiness into your life.
In my future posts, I’ll come up with other aspects related to addiction, including ways to cure Internet addiction.
So, don’t remain addicted to the Internet. Remember, everything in moderation is the key. 🙂
Share Your Thoughts –
What do you do to make sure you do not get addicted to the Internet? Do you think that Internet Addiction is a disorder in today’s society?
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos, Flickrr, QuoteUnquote
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