Internet Addiction

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The internet can provide access to some valuable tools, interesting stories, exciting games and informative content but, when used in excess, the internet has the ability to interfere with work, life, relationships, and daily routines. Internet addiction disorder is a potentially dangerous condition that affects individuals who spend large amounts of time online socializing with friends, playing games, gambling or just surfing the web despite the negative consequences that result from spending so much time online.

Learning about the causes and symptoms of internet addiction can help you to detect a problem early on and find help. Computer addiction does not have to cause long term consequences in your life or in the life of a loved one—help is available in the form of counseling, therapy, and social support groups that will assist you in overcoming impulsive behaviors and reducing the amount of time you or your loved one actually spends online.

What is Internet Addiction?

Internet addiction is a growing epidemic characterized by a compulsive desire to interact online through internet gaming, gambling, cybersex, social networking or compulsive surfing of the web. According to Dr. Kimberly Young, the first psychologist to document internet addiction, these disorders are similar to impulse-control disorders. Meeting five of the following symptoms can lead to a diagnosis of internet addiction disorder:

Types of Internet Addiction Disorders

An addiction to the internet can come in various forms. Most of the time, internet addiction is characterized by the activity that an individual is taking part in while they are online such as shopping, socializing or gaming. Internet addiction disorder includes:

Most internet addiction disorders are the result of cybersex, online gambling or gaming, and cyber-relationships.

Recognizing the Difference Between Healthy & Unhealthy Internet Use

Not all users who surf the web will become addicted to the internet and, excessive use of the internet is not always associated with addiction. There are many ways that the internet can be used in a healthy way and in some cases, even excessive use of the internet is safe. The internet provides us with a constant, ever-changing source of entertainment, information and tools that is accessible through computers, smart phones, tablets, laptops and other hand-held devices.

How can we recognize healthy internet use versus unhealthy use of the internet? How much internet use is too much? Is it the same for everyone?

All of these questions surrounding internet usage and the level of use that is considered healthy come into mind when thinking about internet addiction. The answers:

Symptoms of Internet Addiction

The symptoms of internet addiction may not be visibly present or a person may only show a few of the signs of internet addiction. There is not a set amount of time spent online each day that can be used to describe the presence of an addiction to the internet. This amount of time will be different for each individual.

Some of the symptoms of internet addiction include:

What are the Causes of Internet Addiction?

People become addicted to the internet for a number of different reasons. Most of the time, the urge to compulsive use the internet is the result of a desire to manage unpleasant feeling such as depression, anxiety, stress or loneliness. Some feel socially inept in the real world and turn to social media interaction as a means of feeling close to people, while others may lose themselves online in an effort to temporarily feel better. Unfortunately, the internet, when used compulsively, can lead to many consequences.

Some causes of internet addiction include:

Effects of Internet Addiction

In many ways, internet addiction can be compared to an addiction to drugs or alcohol in that, internet addiction causes a desire to use the internet more and more in order to produce a satisfactory effect. This is similar to the way an alcoholic may need to drink more alcohol in order to feel the benefits of the substance or the way that a drug addict may use more drugs in an effort to produce the same “high.” Internet addicts become dependent on the use of cyberspace in order to feel normal.

Internet addicts struggle to control their behaviors and often experience great despair over their consistent failure to escape their addictive behaviors. A loss of self-esteem and a burning desire to escape can lead the addict further into their addiction sending them into a whirlwind of social anguish, relationship failure and emotional pain. In the end, the internet addiction will cause a sense of powerlessness for the addict.

Help for Internet Addiction

There are many steps that you can take to reduce impulsive behaviors and get your internet usage under control. Many of the ways that you can get help for internet addiction can actually be taken on by you individually without the need for treatment.

Take these steps to get your internet usage under control:

Methods of Internet Addiction Treatment

Many different options for treatment exist to assist those who cannot cope with or overcome their internet addiction on their own.

If self-help for internet addiction doesn’t work for you, consider these internet addiction treatment options:

Helping an Individual who is Addicted to the Internet

If you think you know someone who is addicted to the internet, there are steps you can take to help that individual overcome their addiction.

Follow these times to help someone who is addicted to the internet:

Preventing Internet Addiction in Children and Teens

In today’s society where the use of the internet is present in schools, at home and on the go, children and teens are subjected to a whole new potential for internet addiction that was not necessarily present for adults until recently. Preventing internet addiction in children and teens can be more difficult that you may think. As a parent, there is a fine line between the level of internet usage that is acceptable and what is not for a child or teen.

Follow these tips to prevent internet addiction in children and teens: