I. What is Internet Addiction?
Internet Addiction, Internet Addiction Disorder, Compulsive Internet Use, Computer Addiction, Internet Dependence and Problematic Internet Use — all these words are alternative terms for Internet Addiction, which means spending more time online by ignoring some other aspects of their lives.
Anyone with access to internet can become addicted to it irrespective of gender or age. Internet and mobile technologies offer a worldwide attractions on 24/7 basis with easy accessibility, continuous entertainment and stimulation.
Internet addiction can be compared with other types of addictions which create great impact on a person’s psychological health.
The obsessive behavior may affect life in the following ways:
• Relationships: People who are addicted to internet spend more time maintaining online friendships in chat rooms, which replace real-life friends and family.
• Money: Activities related to online gamblings, online trading and active participation in online auctions.
• Information searching: Internet addicted people always do web surfing or database searches.
• Gaming: Teenagers and children get addicted to computer games.
II. Internet Addiction in Teenagers and Children
Teenagers as internet addicts:
Maintaining a healthy balance between entertainment media and other activities in their children’s lives has always been a challenge for parents. The internet has made this challenge even more difficult. Because of the engaging nature of internet communications and interactive games many children and teenagers have trouble keeping a track of time when they’re online. This is not a serious problem until and unless they get addicted to it.
How teenagers get addicted to the internet:
Children and teenagers get addicted to online activities like multi-user games, instant messaging, pornography and chat rooms. The children of working parents and vulnerable children are easily getting addicted to internet. Children and teenagers who are shy with friends are often attracted to online communities for making new friendships and new identities.
Boys, who are frequent users of online role-playing games, assume new identities and interact with other players. Playing these games with thousands of other users may be considered as a social activity for an introverted child or teen. But, excessive playing can further separate them from friends and family members.
III. What are the symptoms of Internet Addiction disorder?
Internet addicts become dependent on cyberspace high to feel normal. They choose temporary pleasures rather than normal relationships. Internet addiction is similar to drug and other addictions. Internet addicts struggle to control their behaviors, and get depressed when they encounter failures in their life. Their loss of self-esteem grows, fueling the need to escape even further into their addictive behaviors. A sense of powerlessness spreads through the lives of addicts.
Internet addiction is not defined by a single symptom. When the behavior or symptoms of internet addiction take control of addicts’ lives and become unmanageable, the following may happen:
• Uncontrollable internet usage
• An anxiety to be online
• Sometimes it may also happen that a person may lie or hide to cover the extent or nature of online behavior
• An inability to your online behavior
If the way of internet use affects your work, family life, relationships and school, it can be confirmed that you are experiencing the signs of internet addiction. It is important that it is not the actual time spent online that determines if you have a problem, but rather how that time you spend impacts your life.
Internet addiction shows below symptoms:
• Having a sense of excitement when sitting at the computer
• Uncontrolled activity
• Spending more time at the computer
• Ignoring family and friends
• Feeling depressed, irritated when not at the computer
• Lying to family and friends about activities
• Problems with school or work
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Dry eyes
• Eating disorders like skipping meals or overeating
• Neglecting personal hygiene
• Sleep disturbances and changes in sleep patterns
The signs and symptoms of internet addiction are as follows:
1. Preoccupation: A person thinks continuously about the previous online activity or look forward to the next online session. Some people get addicted to the internet just as a smoker who yearns for a cigarette.
2. More use of internet: Gradually an addict reaches to a stage that he’ll be satisfied when he spend more hours of time on internet. When the head of a family gets addicted to internet, it might result in neglecting all basic responsibilities of the family.
3. Uncontrolled internet usage: You can’t stop the habit of internet use, even after several attempts. Some people can’t stop visiting chat rooms while at the office, even though they know their bosses are monitoring the sites they visit.
4. Deaddictive symptoms: You feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when you attempt to stop or cut down internet use.
5. Unlimited usage of internet: Most of us use internet occasionally but not consistently. If you desire to be online consider it a problem.
6. Risky behaviors: Excessive internet usage may spoil personal relationships and job, educational or career relationships.
7. Lies: You lie to family members, a therapist, or others to hide the extent of your involvement in the internet.
8. Escape to the internet: You use the internet as a way to avoid thinking about problems, or to relieve depression or feeling of helplessness.
IV. What is the treatment for Internet Addiction disorder?
Internet addiction treatment: Therapy
Treatment for internet addiction includes a variety of inventions with a primary focus on cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal psychotherapy techniques to reasonable internet usage and to address underlying psychosocial issues that often co-exist with this addiction. Internet addiction therapy should utilize time management techniques that help the client structure and regulate internet sessions and strategies that help clients develop alternative activities that take them away from the computer.
Internet addicts typically suffer from interpersonal difficulties and psychological disorders like introversion and may have limited social support systems to virtual relationships as a substitute for the lack of real life social connection. Addiction may cause loss of significant real life relationships such as a spouse, a parent, or a close friend.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on improving interpersonal functioning. Specific interference includes encouragement of affect, communication analysis, modeling, and role-playing to establish new ways of interacting that address role transitions and interpersonal deficits.
V. How to prevent Internet Addiction disorder?
Tips for parents and carers:
It is the duty of parents to introduce good manners to their children from their childhood. It can help them balance their activities in their future also. Good manners can help them survive in future.
There are advantages in introducing good manners to your child from their childhood to get them habituated to balance their activities. It may be appropriate to fix the time for young ones when they are browsing on internet.
If you observe that your child is spending more time on internet and if you want to establish a healthier balance between internet use and other activities follow the below suggestions:
• Keep your computer in a shared family room, not in a child’s bedroom. You can observe what your child is doing on internet.
• Calculate how much time your kid is spending on internet and check whether your child is performing well in his education or not and whether it is causing any impact on his health and relationships with family and friends.
• Discuss with your children why they are spending so much time online and what they are browsing online. Encourage your child to socialize offline with other children. Support your child, if they are suffering from any psychological problem.
• If your child exhibits any of the symptoms of internet addiction, seek professional counseling to make your child come out from the addiction.
• Find out how much time your child is spending online. Ask yourself if your child’s internet use is affecting his or her school performance, health, and relationships with family and friends.