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As engaging as sites like Facebook and Twitter can be, spending hours on end at a fairly non-productive pursuit calls to question the motivations behind it. There’s always a point where casual fun can become an obsessive behavior that’s not so easy to stop. When it comes to interacting with people online as opposed to face-to-face exchanges, feeling more comfortable online may be a warning sign. Overcoming addiction to Internet, like any other addiction, requires will, effort and forethought, but it can be done.
As non-consequential as online activities may seem to be, addiction to Internet has drawn considerable attention from the medical community. Addiction to Internet is a diagnosable condition that has its own listing in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. According to the National Library of Medicine, internet addiction has been identified as a significant threat to public health in both China and South Korea.
While spending large amounts of time online in general may indicate a possible addiction exists, the “internet addiction disorder” (IAD) classification can take different forms. Cybersex addiction, online gambling addiction, cyber-relationship addiction and non-stop web surfing all fall under the IAD classification. Spending large amounts of time on the computer, whether it be playing games or programming code, also qualifies. Not unlike real-life proclivities, cybersex, online gambling and cyber-relationships are the most common addictions.
Tapering Your Time
Since addiction to Internet takes time away from other more healthy activities, the overall goal is to gradually replace this time with other pursuits. Having a plan that lists specific goals, such as spending more time with friends, and sets time limits for internet activities is a good start.
By altering your routine or usage patterns on a regular basis you can break an ongoing addiction to Internet. This entails keeping track of time spent online as well as identifying known problem areas. Setting time limits and taking frequent breaks can help with tapering down the amount you spend online. In cases where online usage tends to take place at a specific time of day, such as afternoons switch this to time evenings as a way to break the pattern. This can help break the hold an addiction to Internet has on your daily life.
Identify and Work On Underlying Issues
Not unlike alcohol and drug addictions, addiction to Internet can be a way to escape from personal, difficult life issues. Emotionally charged situations involving anger or grief can also drive a person to escape on the Internet.
People who have trouble relating to others may also retreat into the online world as a way of coping or self-soothing. Addiction to Internet can be an easy escape for someone who’s struggling with stress, depression or anxiety. If this is the case, seeking out therapy or a support group may be a good first step. The importance of having a good support network applies for anyone, regardless of whether addiction is an issue or not.
In general, the more an addiction to Internet alters a person’s life in terms of work and relationships the more serious a problem it is.