In today’s world, where everyone uses the internet, Internet Addiction is a new problem.
Some people depend too much on the internet and avoid their life’s issues.
It can strain your social impairment, cause financial problems, loneliness and sadness. It also impacts your physical and mental health and results in internet addiction disorder (IAD).
What is Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)?
Internet Addiction is a behavioral addiction. It is when a person depends on the Internet or online devices. They use it as an unhealthy way of overcoming stress.
All of it starts with innocent browsing which then leads to problematic behavior where users prioritize their online activities over real-life relationships. Excessive Internet use affects their work and health.
A survey states that males with internet addiction spend most of their time online viewing pornography, and females spend most of their time chatting online.
It is also popular as Pathological or problematic internet use. A few of the problematic behaviors that people do Online are:
- Social Media Usage
- Online Gambling
- Online shopping
- Chatting or Messaging
- Web surfing or browsing
A study done in 2020 reported that around 6% of the people around the world may be affected by Internet Addiction Disorder.
5 Different Types of Internet Addiction
1. Cybersex Addiction
This is one of the common forms of internet addiction. It is an obsessive engagement in online sexual activities.
People with this addiction excessively take part in adult chat rooms. They view online pornography. They engage in sexual fantasies though adult chat service is one of its forms.
This might make it hard to build close relationships in real life.
2. Net compulsions
Net compulsions include harmful online activities. This includes gambling, stock trading, online auctions, and shopping.
This can often lead to financial problems and impact their well-being
It is easy and convenient for people to access gambling online. This leads to addictive behaviors like spending money and playing games of chance.
3. Cyber (online) Relationship Addiction
This is when users focus more on online relationships and ignore real-life ones.
People spend a lot of time chatting online instead of meeting friends in person. These online connections are often made on chat rooms or social media. But they are made mostly using fake names.
4. Compulsive Information Seeking
People with this addiction have a wild urge to gather data online. It’s linked to your obsessive side which affects work productivity.
5. Computer or Gaming Addiction
Gaming Addiction involves excessive engagement in both online and offline activities.
Before it was observed with classic games like Solitaire and Tetris. However now it is much higher due to many new games online.
This also causes productivity problems in workplaces.
Symptoms of Internet Addiction disorder
Understanding these symptoms is crucial for users. This allows them to check their internet use and seek support for healthier habits.
There are a number of symptoms of this Addiction Disorder. However, few of the most common of them are:
Spending more Time Online
Some people feel that they need to be on the internet all the time to feel happy. It’s like they can’t get enough. They might spend hours and hours each day on the internet. They do things like watching videos, playing games, and scrolling through social media.
However, people may think this is normal, but excessive chatting with friends is also one of the signs. They need more time online to feel the sense of satisfaction.
Using the Internet to Feel Better
When someone is feeling guilty or sad, they turn to the internet to try to feel better again. They use the internet as a way to distract themselves from these feelings. They do this to make themselves feel a little happier for a little while.
They might watch a funny video or play games to escape their emotions. But, relying too much on the internet to feel better can make the feelings come back stronger later on.
Avoiding Real-Life Areas
People with compulsive internet use forget about other important parts of their lives. They might ignore spending time with friends and family. They skip their homework and forget to take care of themselves. They are just so busy surfing their computers.
Sometimes, those with excessive internet use might lie to hide how much time they spend online. They pretend they’re doing something else. such peoples lie about their behaviors when asked by friends or family
People with this addictive disorder might feel withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop using the internet. It is the same as quitting a drug. Some common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Physical symptoms like headache and trouble sleeping
How does Internet Addiction disorder affect your brain?
Internet addiction can affect our brain in many ways. It affects various cognitive functions and neural pathways. Here are key aspects to consider:
Changes Brain Structure
Prolonged internet use can cause changes in the structure of our brain. This affects the areas related to decision-making and impulse control
Impaired Cognitive Function
Internet addiction can cause impairment in cognitive functions like attention and memory.
Multitasking and taking in too much information can make it hard to focus and learn
Reward Circuit Hijacking
Addictive online activities can take control of the brain’s reward circuit. This creates a cycle where we constantly want to be rewarded. Therefore, you keep using the internet.
This makes it difficult to stop internet addiction. It is very similar to how hard it’s to break free from substance abuse.
Prolonged use of screens before bedtime can disturb sleep routines.
Sleep is crucial for cognitive functions and emotional well-being. Its disturbance may exacerbate the negative impact on the brain.
Increased Anxiety and Depression Risk
Internet addiction increases the chances of feeling anxious and depressed. When you meet people online, you start comparing yourself with them. Many times, people get bullied online. All of this can increase the risk of having depression
Consequences of Internet Addiction in life
People with Internet Addiction Disorder face a lot of problems throughout their life. The most disturbing of them are:
People with internet addiction can’t stop checking their phone, even when they know they have other things to focus on. This makes it hard to build relationships with people in real life. This can cause issues like depression and anxiety.
A study done by Dr. Jerald J. Block states that 86% of internet-addicted individuals exhibit other mental health disorders. This includes psychological problems like depression, anxiety, social isolation and impulse control disorder.
Financial and Occupational Challenges
Excessive use of the internet can threaten financial stability and job status. Behaviors like online shopping, and gambling can lead to financial problems. This causes financial problems.
Additionally, avoiding work due to internet addiction leads to job-related problems and career setbacks.
Physical Health Deterioration
Long periods of internet use lead to an inactive lifestyle.
Users develop poor eating habits. They go for quick and unhealthy snacks to sustain long online sessions.
There is also a lack of physical activity. This results in problems like malnourishment and weight loss.
Mental Health and Suicidal Thoughts
Internet addiction leads to increased risk of substance use disorders. This includes alcohol and drug abuse.
It seems that people with internet addiction are more isolated. They have fewer in-person interactions as they spend most of their time online. This isolation and distress can lead to suicidal thoughts.
We need to understand the link between internet addiction and mental health. This is very important to seek proper help.
Treatment of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)
You don’t have to completely stop using the internet if you struggle with internet addiction. With professional help you will be able to use the internet in a healthy way.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be very good for such behavioral addictions. This therapy focuses on changing the way you think and believe about using the net, which can help reduce anxiety and compulsive behavior. So, by changing those thoughts and beliefs, we change our behavior.
You can take online therapy that can provide encouragement and tips for managing internet use.
Self-Help tips-How do I overcome internet addiction?
Before it’s too late consider these amazing self help tips to overcome your internet addiction:
- Self-awareness: Accept the addiction and its impact on your life.
- Set boundaries: Build clear limits on daily screen time and online activities.
- Create a schedule: Plan offline activities to reduce internet use. These activities can include playing with your friends outdoors.
- Reach out for assistance: Tell your goals to your family and friends. Ask them to help you stay on track and be responsible.
- Utilize apps: Use apps that limit screen time or block distracting websites.
- Find hobbies: Engage in offline hobbies and activities in your free time.
- Take breaks: Take frequent short breaks
- Professional help: Go for therapy for additional support.
- Educate yourself: Learn about healthy internet use and its effects on you
- Stay consistent: Keep in mind that it will take time and effort. So be consistent!
Conclusion – Breaking free from Internet Addiction
Internet addiction is a growing concern as it affects our mental, physical and social well-being. Recognizing the signs and seeking support is very important.
You can get help from online therapy platforms like betterhelp. The platform offers mental health services at reasonable prices. Remember, overcoming internet addiction is a journey that requires patience and consistency.