Internet Addiction is an impulse control disorder. Impulse control disorder can be loosely defined as the failure to resist an impulsive act or behavior that may be harmful to self or others. Characterized by a preoccupation and emotional attachment to “friends” on-line, activities on the internet, and seeking to live in a “fantasy” setting, internet addiction can cause major disruptions in a person’s “real” life. Internet addiction has been said to be similar to pathological gambling, also a serious affliction.
According to the National Institute of Health, “Since the early 1990s, some researchers have suggested that the impulse control disorders (ICDs) might be conceptualized as a part of an obsessive–compulsive spectrum based on their clinical characteristics, familial transmission, and response to both pharmacological and psychosocial treatment interventions”
Some signs displayed by Internet addicts include:
- On-line longer than originally intended
- Use of the Internet is a way to “escape”
- Preoccupation with the Internet. (Thoughts about previous on-line activity or anticipation of the next on-line session.)
- Use of the Internet in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction.
- Lies to family members or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet.
- Jeopardized responsibilities because of Internet use (ex: loss of significant relationships, job, education)
- Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use.
Being addicted to the internet can cause severe disruption in all areas of life. As your control over the situation dwindles and your addiction deepens, it can hurt you mentally, socially, and physically. Shortened attention span, disassociating from the world outside the internet, and lack of sleep due to waking thoughts (about the internet) that cause insomnia, are a small smattering of the malaise that leads to complete and utter failure in life and succumbing to the addiction.
With technology advancing in leaps and bounds and considering that even most middle school aged children seem to have cellular devices and/or tablets these days, it is easy to see how effortlessly the habits that form early stages of an addiction to the internet can happen. Most jobs require at least some type of computer work and even the homework assigned today is typed up on a computer. With social media and up to the minute news reports, gaming sites, on-line gossip pages, and blogs about anything and everything, it would seem there is no escaping the internet.
In the interest that at some point you will want to “engage” in real life, a self-imposed ban on computer use and Internet access may be necessary. Marital and family therapy may help in some cases. Ironically, The U.S. national library of Medicine suggests that on-line self-help books might be of assistance. If Internet Addiction is taking over your life, please seek help.