Last updated: 09/25/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Internet addiction, also known as internet addiction disorder, is a growing phenomenon that draws more users as new advancements in communications technology become available. Like most other addictions, the dangerous effects of internet addiction take the form of undesirable changes in a person’s life.
People who spend hours on end on the Internet eventually start to see its effects in their lives. The effects of internet addiction gradually minimize the people, activities and pursuits that occupied a person’s time before the Internet became an issue. The effects of internet addiction can also cause real damage to a person’s mental and physical health.
Potential for Addiction
According to a California State University report, addiction plays out as a compulsive need to engage in a habit-forming activity that poses a genuine threat to other areas of a person’s life. While the idea of getting addicted to the Internet may seem silly to some people, the potential for internet addiction is glaringly real.
In actuality, addictive behavior is defined by the following criteria:
- Increasing tolerance levels, or needing to spend more and more time online
- Experiencing physical and emotional highs and lows when online and when offline
- Continued use in spite of any damaging effects to a person’s life
- A self-perpetuating cycle that reinforces itself
More oftentimes than not, people who spend unusually large amounts of recreational time online meet all of the key criteria for addiction. With ongoing use, the effects of internet addiction become more and more apparent.
When someone is enmeshed in online activities, they’re for most part oblivious to any changes or effects of internet addiction. From the outside looking in, these changes become more and more apparent to friends and loved ones. Certain types of internet addiction in particular, such as cyber-porn, cyber-relationships and online gambling pose direct threats to the stability in a home and/or marriage.
Other types of online activity, such as continuous web surfing may not pose a direct threat to close relationships but can still cause damage. In effect, the avid online user has essentially dropped-out of interactions with others.
Dangerous effects of internet addiction can also take the form of replacing face-to-face interaction time with emails and texting. Ultimately, the loss of significant relationships in a person’s life amounts to a loss of self-identity and connection with life.
Spending increasing amounts of time online gradually isolates a person from friends and loved ones. The ongoing effects of internet addiction predispose a person to conditions involving depression and in some cases, substance abuse. An ongoing lack of social interaction can have actual physical effects on a person’s brain chemistry as well as physical health.
As with most addictions, the longer a person “uses’ the more severe symptoms become. The effects of internet addiction can leave a person oblivious to unmet needs for social interaction. As symptoms of depression increase, the likelihood of alcohol and/or drug use increases. Add to this the overall lack of exercise a person gets and physical health starts to decline in the process.