Internet Addiction

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Some children and teens become addicted to the Internet. Internet addiction may be a disorder on its own, or a symptom of a more serious underlying disorder such as depression, OCD, anxiety, or social anxiety disorder, or even an early sign of psychosis. 

The Internet is now an integral, even inescapable, part of many people’s daily lives; they turn to it to send messages, read news, conduct business, and much more. But recently we have seen a preoccupation that some people, especially teenagers, develop with certain aspects of the Internet, particularly online games, and social media. The “Internet addicts” compulsively use the internet, to the exclusion of other interests, and their persistent and recurrent online activity results in clinically significant impairment of daily activities, or distress to others. People with this condition endanger their academic or job functioning because of the amount of time they spend on the internet. They experience symptoms of withdrawal when pulled away from their browsing.  

Research shows that when these individuals are engrossed in the Internet, certain pathways in their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict’s brain is affected by a particular substance. This prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, is manifested as addictive behavior.

Cyber-relationship addiction is an addiction to social networking such as Facebook, WhatsApp and online dating services. Virtual online friends start to gain more communication and importance over time to the person, becoming more important than real-life family and friends .

Internet addiction disorder  may be an attempt to alleviate unpleasant feelings arising from underlying mental health issues, most commonly depression, OCD, social anxiety, and stress and sometimes may even be a sign of loss of touch with reality which is a symptom of psychosis.

Internet addiction, therefore, needs to be identified and treated early to avoid serius complications in later life.

 

Symptoms:

  • Using the Internet so much for game playing or other purposes that it interferes with everyday life and decision-making ability.
  • Preoccupation or obsession with Internet even when they impact a person’s life. e.g. job loss, marriage breakdown, financial debt, and academic failure.
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, boredom, irritability or angry ourbursts when not using the Internet.
  • A build-up of tolerance with more and more time being spent on internet, social media, and games.
  • Failure of repeated attempts to stop or curb Internet usage.
  • Loss of interest in other life activities, such as hobbies.
  • Lying to others about his or her Internet usage.
  • Using internet to relieve anxiety or guilt
  • Lost opportunities or or relationships because of Internet usage.