Internet addiction is described as an impulse control disorder Some Internet users may develop strong attachments to on-line friends they create “virtually” on their computer. Internet users may engage in activities that allow them to mingle, socialize, and exchange ideas through the use social networking websites, and “virtual communities.” Other Internet users spend endless hours researching topics of interest Online or “blogging”. Similar to other addictions, those suffering from Internet addiction use the virtual fantasy world to connect with real people through the Internet, as a substitution for real-life human connection, which they are unable to achieve normally.
A sub-set of computer addiction is social media. Social networking addiction is a phrase sometimes used to refer to someone spending too much time using Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media — so much so that it interferes with other aspects of daily life. There’s no official medical recognition of social networking addiction as a disease or disorder. Still, the cluster of behaviors associated with heavy or excessive use of social media has become the subject of much discussion and research
Signs of Internet addiction?
- Euphoric Feeling when in front of the computer or Internet
- Preoccupation with the Internet.
- Use of the Internet in increasing amounts of time in order to feel good.
- No sense of time – unable to keep schedules
- Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop Internet use.
- Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the Internet.
- On-line longer than originally intended.
- Problems at work or school.
- Lies to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet.
- Use of the Internet is a way to escape from problems.
- Depression, isolation and feelings of guilt
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Problems sleeping
- Blurred or strained vision
Some people may be predisposed to having a computer or internet addition, such as those who suffer from depression or anxiety. Also, people who have a history of other types of addiction, such as to drugs, alcohol and gambling. People who are overly shy and cannot easily relation to their peers are also at risk of developing a computer type addiction.
Therapy can offer relief in controlling Internet use. One type is CBT (Cognitive-behavioral therapy). It provides step-by-step ways to stop compulsive Internet behaviors and change perceptions regarding Internet, social media and computer use. Therapy can also help you learn healthier ways of coping with uncomfortable emotions, such as stress, anxiety, or depression.
Medications are sometimes needed to help with these kind of disorders. However, it is important to speak with a doctor regarding any potential side effects. As always, taking medication needs to be monitored.
If your child, or someone you love suffers from an internet addiction, please call for help.
If your Internet use is affecting your partner directly, as with excessive cybersex or online affairs, marriage counseling can help you work through these challenging issues. Marriage counseling can also help you reconnect with your partner if you have been using the Internet for most of your social needs.