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Internet Addiction

We all use the term “Internet Addiction” with sarcasm and often forget that behind the sarcasm lies a real problem. China and South Korea are the places where this addiction is treated seriously, unlike the western world, where we think that 25 hours every week spent on the computer is completely normal. Now you may think “I don’t spend 25 hours on the computer weekly, this is a false statistic”. But the truth is, when you combine your computer, Smartphone and tablet together you may very well go over that 25 hours. You may watch a movie, stay online to chat for 2 hours or check the stock market. And like that’s not enough, you don’t fall asleep right away, but you log on Facebook from your Smartphone and watch the news feed for another hour until you have no active brain cells anymore. We were not designed to live with so much technology in our lives. No matter how much you want to justify your compulsive computer use, at one point you will have to admit that your computer can’t replace a walk in the park and your Facebook friends are not really your friends. Very soon everywhere in the world, problematic computer use will be treated as a disorder, because just like pills and drugs, technology is harmful too.

Why Should Internet Addiction be Listed as a Real Medical Problem?

If you have already been two hours online before you’ve stumbled upon this text, you might have to ask yourself if you fall in the group of Internet addicts. Spending time online is a lot of fun. You can never gather so much information from your friends as you would online. With a few easy clicks, you can learn how to groom your cat, shop for winter attire and read the recent celebrity gossip. At first, you think the gift of Internet is a delightful convenience. Like all other addictions, the Internet too has a way to lure you in. According to the dictionary the word addiction describes any type of activity that is continuous and habitual, regardless of the fact that it interferes with the user everyday life, relationships and health.

Many people don’t notice their dependence and never take it seriously. That is the factor known as denial, and you can see it in every other type of addiction. After a couple of years, your computer might come between you and your friends, work and dietary habits. Another factor you can find on the addiction list is the factor of tolerance. Drug users develop tolerance after continuous use of the substance. Internet addicts, like drug addicts also develop tolerance for their computers. In time, the half hour becomes one hour, another hour sneaks up and quickly you are two hours online, when you are two hours you give yourself another half an hour, and so forth. The worse thing about this addiction and the reason why it should be taken seriously is that it affects both, adults and children.

Kids look up to their parents and if their parents have their laptop at the dinner table during dinner, feel free to judge and label them as bad parents. Early Internet abuse can cause children to have difficulties coping with reality and everyday problems later in life. You shouldn’t prohibit computer usage for your kids’ altogether, because today’s world revolves around technology. There are logic games, fun questionnaires and amusing facts they can find very helpful for their development, but still, the time they spend on the computer should be monitored and restricted. Two hours tops every day are enough for every teenager to gather the facts they need either for their school projects or personal life. One hour is recommended for elementary students and half an hour or less for all children under the age of 6. Like all other addictions, obsessive Internet use has withdrawal symptoms. You might suddenly feel stressed when the Internet is slow, you can’t log into your account on eBay or your favorite site is down for maintenance. Unpleasant feelings and negative moods, as well as autism traits in most excessive Internet users were reported in many studies related to this addiction. All symptoms disappear once the user is given a computer or a Smartphone with Internet. Many Internet addicts reported that they don’t consider their addiction to be dangerous or harmful. Quite the opposite, all of them stated that their computer makes them more productive and effective.

The Dangers of Over Using the Computer

It’s actually very easy to become an Internet addict. The World Wide Web is a place with the most accurate information, where you can learn as well as have fun. However, being a tool that is most accessible and entertaining, it can easily become a dangerous dependency. Young people, teenagers and kids are impressionable, which makes the Internet the most unsafe place where they spend their time. They might start avoiding responsibilities, like homework, learning and household chores, but become exposed to dangerous people and sex predators. Adults might think their computer usage is valid and reasonable, but you will have to learn to recognize when too much is too much. Computer over-usage can lead to headaches, dry eyes, back pain and general fatigue, but in the long run, this addiction can lead to more serious health problems. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most widespread condition related to excessive computer use, but weight gain, lost desire in physical activities and a decline in personal hygiene might appear as side effects also. Many studies have shown that Internet addiction affects people with already developed psychosomatic problems, like anxiety and depression.

Coping with the real world is not easy for everyone. Some people find it easier to talk to others online because the social pressure is off, you can say anything without being misjudged and pretend to be your perfect self. Thousands of family relationships have been ruined because of cyber sexual and relational interferences. For women, this type of Internet interaction is suitable, because the social stigma and physical appearance are not visible, so it allows them to enjoy their sexuality more freely. Men don’t have to worry about their sexual performance online, which may cause serious sexual dysfunctions in the real life. The family members and spouses are the first to detect these types of compulsions, so their help and counseling should be almost mandatory. The bottom line is that this habit becomes addictive because it changes how the brain perceives the actual reality. Dopamine is the brain factor that controls how we react to pleasure and awards. Once you find out that the Internet is the place where you can be whoever you want and say whatever you want anonymously, your brain will require more involvement of that kind, because it’s very satisfactory. Although it looks like you are socially booked with your online presence with blogs, forums and social networks, the social growth actually becomes very limited.

More than 41% of the population is addicted to Facebook. Up to date, 63% are feeling stressed once they send a friend request, 32% feel guilty or ashamed if their friend request is rejected and 44% respond to their friends’ posts every day. Role playing games are known to cause this alternative reality effect more explicitly. Playing these games for long periods of time might result in social disorders, isolation, insomnia and etc. In China, Internet cafes are still in use, where 10 cardio related deaths were reported and one game related homicide. In America, every house has a computer with Internet. There have been a few cases where kids kill their parents for taking away their computer allowances. Compulsive gambling is already a recognized addiction and the Internet only increases its availability.

Is There a Treatment for Internet Addiction?

Just like treating any other addiction, treating Internet abuse will require abstinence. Since nowadays we are not in the position to avoid technology, self-discipline is the best way to avoid staying addicted to your computer or Smartphone. Many times, managing the obsession this way may only lead to relapses. The fact that we are already addicted to the Internet shows that there’s something lacking in our real life, which can’t be replaced easily. Usually, this kind of dependence goes unnoticed for a very long time. Depending on your personality, your addiction may develop gradually until one day you snap at everyone who takes your place in front of the computer, your favorite spot. It is fine when you want to spend an hour or two chatting with friends you haven’t seen in a while or live off coast, that’s what the Internet is for. But when you talk to people online for hours when you can go out for drinks, you will have to inspect your reasons more closely and carefully. If you think you or someone close to you is addicted to the Internet, psychotherapy might come in handy. There, you will learn how to replace the damaging behaviors and thought processes with productive and healthy ones.

Internet Issues


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