What is Internet Addiction?
Do you check your Instagram every 5 minutes? Do you love searching for your hobbies online? Do you prefer texting your friends instead of meeting them? Do you regret the time you spend online as it is interfering your personal life and relationships?
If your answer to these questions are yes, then you maybe be suffering from internet addiction disorder (IAD). Nowadays it is very common to see people addicted to their mobile devices. This is also referred to as addiction to mobile phones but in most cases these people are internet addicts and mobile phones act as the medium. It has been continuously compared to pathological gambling over the years, first done by Dr Ivan Goldberg, MD in 1995.
Internet user suffering from IAD find themselves attached to their digital screens. It has affected almost 32% of internet users worldwide. Internet addiction may sound like addiction to anything on the screen but has many extensions and is a very complex problem.
It is still not considered a real disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO). But with cases of the addiction affecting a huge amount of general population worldwide, it is high time! The dependence of human being on internet is increasing day by day.
Our dependence on internet has increased exponentially in last few years. Surveys suggest that an average human being using internet spends 6.5 hours online. These numbers are far more in young children below the age of 15. Video streaming sites and online gaming are making these children addicts and affecting their overall growth.
Various types of Internet addiction
1.Internet sex addiction
Internet sex addiction refers to addiction to pornographic content available online. These people are living in fantasy and this internet virtual sexual addiction affects their mental heath.
People suffering from this addiction are also addicted to masturbation and this affects their real-world sexual and love life. It has been found in a study that about 80% of people suffering from this addiction are teenagers.
Addiction to Shopping, Gambling and Online auctions
Addictions like Gambling, Online Shopping, and online auctions are some of the major services that make people stick to their computer screens. First comes addiction to online auction. People suffering from this addiction face financial and job-related problems. These people also have a very disturbed sleep cycle as they wake up at odd timings to check for deals on sites like Ebay.
Online gambling is another major form of addiction that comes under new compulsion. The Internet has made gambling easier than ever and people often risk a large amount of money which can lead to great financial losses.
Other net compulsions such as compulsive stock trading or online shopping (auctions) can be just as financially and socially damaging as online gambling.
Online Gaming addiction
This is found mostly among teenagers. With online games like PUBG, counter strike and Dota 2.
These games are highly addictive and make them stick to the screen for a long time.
Gaming for prolonged durations affects their eyesight and social life. These people also have problems like backaches and headaches which affects their health.
Online Relationship Addiction
With the growth of social media websites and virtual world games people often find themselves looking for relationships online.
This has led to a lot of cheating cases. People also create a fake identity to scam people and steal money from them.
People also go into depression after being cheated in a relationship online.
Compulsive Information Seeking
The Internet contains unlimited information and some people are addicted to finding a solution to all their problems online.
This leads to degradation in problem-solving skills of an individual and this may lead to less productivity.
Their dependence on the internet affects their self-confidence too. They are often not sure to do things on their own and prefer to double-check things online.
Symptoms of internet addiction
Feeling of guilt:- People addicted to the internet find it hard to leave the screen. Whether he/she is waiting for comments on a newly uploaded photo or reply
from a friend.
They can’t bear to leave the device. These people are low on motivation which leads to guilt. The guilt also includes the guilt of this addiction.
They know that the time they spend on the internet is bad for them but they are not able to take the initiative to fight it.
Anxiousness:– A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. These people are frustrated for reasons they don’t know themselves. This can be due to something or the screen or off.
No social interaction, bad diet, less sleep can lead to anxiousness. A change in their behaviour can also be observed.
Depression:- These people spend most of their time on screens and become introverts. Staying the room for long times and not spending time with friends isolates them and they often find themselves alone. Not having social interaction cuts them off from society.
Feeling of joy when in front of the screen:- Internet becomes the reason they are breathing and they feel very energetic and active when in front of a screen. They act proactively in front of screens and can stick to them for a long time.
This is similar to an alcoholic person. Since internet addiction has affected their social life, they use the same internet to walk away from reality.
Not punctual:- Sitting in front of the screen really affect their mind and they often ignore important things just to stare at the glowing screen.
A survey shows that 60% of students who are not regular with their homework are addicted to the internet. They lose sense of what is important and what is not which affect their career.
Procrastination:- They procrastinate a lot. These people often ignore deadlines and leave their work for the next day. They even skip meals which affects their health. Procrastination to necessary health checkups, family meetups which affects their social life and health.
Backaches: -Sitting on the chair for long durations leads to physical symptoms like back pain. In many cases these damages the spinal cord leading to severe effect on their health.
They develop back problems like Sciatica which refers to pain in the sciatic nerve, which runs down the base of the spine into the back of your legs. It can be caused by various conditions, including a bone spur on the spine.
The pain can be anything from a dull aching sensation to what feels like an electric shock. Sitting for long periods can make it worse, but you’ll usually only have it on one side.
Spinal Stenosis: This is another disease that affects the spine. Bones in the spine each have a hole in the middle that forms a tube through which the spinal cord runs. This connects the nerves throughout your body to your brain.
When that tube isn’t wide enough, the cord gets squeezed and can cause pain, weakness, or numbness.
Spinal stenosis can be the result of an injury, arthritis, a tumour, or an infection. Some people are born with a narrow spinal canal.
Headaches:- Staring at the screen for a long duration of time causes headache and negatively affects the brain. Many times inadequate light in the room causes headaches.
These people may develop migraine which is feeling of an intense throbbing pain on just one side of the head. The person may experience a heightened sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. Nausea and vomiting are also common. Cluster headaches are also very common.
Cluster headaches are severe and recurrent headaches that are six times more likely to develop in men than in women. People describe an intense burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye.
Significant weight gain or loss:- Due to very less physical work and inappropriate diet, the effect of their bodies are visible.
Obesity is very commonly found in internet addicts. They also skip meals and don’t have the required nutrition needed by their body leading to significant weight loss. Significant weight gain may lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, stroke, cancer, kidney diseases etc.
Losing weight is equally dangerous and can result from a decrease in body fluid, muscle mass, or fat. A decrease in body fluid can come from medications, fluid loss, lack of fluid intake, or illnesses such as diabetes.
Disturbance in sleep:- Their sleeping cycle is ruined due to prolonged use of the internet and they find it hard to sleep due to reasons like anxiety and depression. They can’t get internet off their mind and are troubled by the constant thoughts related to it.
Not sleeping for adequate time can lead to excessive sleepiness, yawning, irritability and daytime fatigue. It also affects the central nervous system which leads to a weak immune system.
Weak eyesight:- Their eyesight is affected due to overstraining and this leads also leads to migraine and headache. These people don’t take care of their eyes and this leads to both myopia and hypermetropia. These people often have sore and swollen eyes.
How to recover from Internet addiction?
To recover from an addiction of any kind a person should know the problem and should be determined to work forward to make it possible. This is similar to alcohol and drug addiction where people are obsessed with one of these products and can’t live without them.
People remove their internet modems and shut off their digital devices. But this a has a very short term measure to a long term problem and internet is a necessity nowadays and the positive features of internet cannot be ignored. Let’s have a look at some productive ways through which one can recover from internet addiction:-
- Ignoring technique:- Whenever we come across someone who thinks ill of us and is not the good wisher we try to maintain our distance and ignore them. Apply the same formula to your internet devices. Avoid it whenever necessary. Do you need the meaning of a word? Use a dictionary! By making small changes like this you can reduce your dependence on the internet and bring a positive change to your life.
- Socializing with friends:– We love texting our friends online or call them. Since you are trying to bring a change to your life go give them a visit. Pick up some snacks and coke stop by their house! Whatever time you spend there, you won’t touch your phone that’s a sure thing.
- 3. Setting up limits:- Now one thing is for sure that the internet is not a luxury anymore. It is a necessity. You can’t completely cut yourself out. So the next step should be limiting your usage. Set time limits on your usage of devices. You can plan one day about how much time you think you should invest online and sincerely meet those targets. This will motivate you to reduce the time each time you meet your targets. Make sure you make these targets to achieve your ultimate goal i.e. to limit your internet usage.
- 4. Leave it alone: Most people are addicted to the internet due to certain websites, apps or games. The service or the source may vary from person to person but the solution is the same. LEAVE IT ALONE! Uninstalling them for 2-3 days will break the mental cycle that wants to repeatedly use it. But yes to get this done, you need to take the initial step which might be very hard and challenging.
- Reminder cards: These cards should contain all your targets in form of a small flash cards. These flash cards should be placed on places you look frequently like on the doors, on the refrigerator etc. These is a very effective method as this will not let the though slip through your mind.
- 6. Support groups: Internet addiction is a very common thing nowadays and you are not alone. Many people share a common experience as yours and they also want to fight this addiction and bring a positive change to their life. You will find a lot of common things when you meet them in person and talking to them will help you in ways you can’t imagine. They might have solved problems you are facing right now. This will be very beneficial for you. Making friends with common goals will help you find alternatives to pass time.
- Family support: There no one who can understand you better than your family. You should talk to your family about the problems you are facing and be open to their suggestions. Spending time with family will also help you forget about internet and help you keep up with your target. Going on family outings can also help in your recovery process.
Medication and addiction
Now we are aware of the health problems and negative effects of internet addiction. Addicts find themselves heavily troubled and often prefer taking medication to avoid these symptoms. Medication can be dangerous if take without consulting a doctor and can damage the body even further. Prevention is better than cure. It is always advised to meet a doctor before they take any medicines.
Detox Centres for Internet addiction
With an increase in cases of internet addiction, detox centres have been established which help you fight the addiction. These are similar to the detox centre for alcoholic and drug addicts. They have various techniques to help you fight this addiction. It will be beneficial to stay under the supervision of trained professionals and councillors. Detox centre has people with common addiction so you will have someone who can understand your problem. However, it is advised to try to fight addiction on your own and keep this as the last option when you have failed to do it yourself.
After reading this article you will have pretty good knowledge about Internet addiction. You are not alone. Take help from your family, friends and doctors. You can also follow the steps we have provided. With the right motivation, you can do anything and everything. Just do it!