What is Internet Addiction?
Internet addiction is an impulse or control disorder. Users who are addicted to the internet may have emotional attachments to online “friends” or their online activities. Internet addiction has been compared to gambling. Internet addicts may be addicted to the social aspect of the internet, such as meeting new people in chat rooms or socializing with “friends” through social networks. Other internet addicts may enjoy the unlimited and immediate information the internet can provide, such as researching (googling) topics, blogging, or even watching videos online. Internet addiction is dangerous because the fantasy world is a substitution for the real world and replaces human interaction.
What are the warning signs of Internet addiction?
Preoccupation or anticipation of online activities: If someone constantly thinks about online activities and is unable to focus on anything in the real world because of their preoccupation with online activities they may be addicted to the internet.
Increasing the amount of time spent on the internet is also a sign of internet addiction. Just as people who are addicted to drugs have increase the amount of drug or use a more potent drug to achieve their next high, an internet addict must do the same with the internet.
If someone repeatedly fails at cutting back from the internet they may have an addiction. Just as many addict’s relapse, internet addicts may do the same.
Feelings of depression, moodiness, and being uncomfortable when striving to cut back from the internet may be a warning sign as well.
Loss of careers, education, relationships, or opportunities because of the internet.
Lying to family and friends about internet use.
Using internet to escape reality.
What are some effects of Internet addiction?
Some internet addicts may create online personas. The popular MTV show "Catfish" shows the realities of online personas and how they can affect all the people involved. Internet addiction can also cause physical pain, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, backaches, headaches, eating irregularities, and sleep deprivation.
Where can you find help?
A certified addictions counselor can help you identify the level of care you will need for your addiction. The assessment is free and confidential. You can call the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at (800)-522-3784, 24 hours, and 7 days a week.