It’s impossible to disconnect
Today, as a whole we spend so many hours per week on the internet. Every person uses the internet differently; for their job, schoolwork, shopping, social media, video games, watching movies and TV shows; the possibilities really are endless. We have an information overload!
With computers and smart phones having everything we could possibly need, we are constantly connected and can’t seem to get a break from technology. We are glued to our phones and the internet for one reason or another, and it’s almost impossible to really disconnect.
The internet can be addictive, and it’s important to be aware of the signs.
What is Internet Addiction Disorder?
Internet Addiction Disorder is a compulsive behavior involving the internet that interferes with an individual’s day to day life. It is a dependency on this particular technology and the individual can feel emotional withdrawal symptoms when away from the internet.
Internet addiction disorder can also be referred to as problematic or compulsive internet use, or internet gaming disorder if it involves an individual who is seemingly obsessed with online gaming. There are a number of ways a person can become addicted to internet usage.
While internet addiction doesn’t involve a drug or addictive substance like we traditionally associate with addictions, it can actually be compared to gambling and shopping addictions since it is an impulse control issue. Often, internet addiction appears in individuals as addictive internet gaming.
The internet and this influx of technology use within society is relatively recent, it’s only been on the scene the last decade or two. Each person’s perception of “too much” internet usage varies on an individual basis, so in some ways it’s difficult to decipher how much time spent on the internet is too much.
How much time spent on the internet is too much?
We all use the internet for different purposes, and varying amounts of time per day. Many younger individuals use the internet for hours each day, while some older or elderly individuals may not even use the internet at all within a day.
Some people rely on the internet heavily for their job, or they go to school online, or a number of other factors. We as a society do rely on technology and the internet tremendously, so it is difficult to make a generalization and label some amount as too much.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are neglecting other important areas of your life to be online, or your internet usage is in some ways negatively affecting your day to day life, that’s when it’s time to start questioning what’s going on.
Can you be addicted to the internet?
The American Psychiatric Association is thinking so! As of right now, there is no specific DSM that is used by health professionals for diagnosis, but there has been talk about adding internet addiction disorder to the DSM manual. Much like any other addiction, if it is negatively affecting and interfering with your day to day life, that’s when it’s time to evaluate the situation.
How to recognize Internet Addiction
Recognizing the warning signs and seeking help are imperative to treatment. Some cognitive signs of internet addiction include obsessive thoughts involving the internet, increasing usage over time, needing more and more time on the internet to feel satisfied, feelings of withdrawal when attempting to reduce usage, unsuccessful attempts at cutting back.
Interpersonal difficulties involving Internet Addiction
Difficulties within your personal life can arise due to internet addiction as well. Your work can be negatively affected; your grades in school might be dropping.
Relationships with loved ones can be impacted as well, as you are withdrawing more and more from day to day life with everyone. Loved ones may complain that they don’t see you much anymore, that your life revolves around the internet, and express concern for your behavior.
Internet addiction can increase your risk for developing anxiety and depression, and contribute to a poorer quality of sleep.
Physical Signs of Internet Addiction
Some physical signs of internet addition include declining personal hygiene and nutrition, as taking care of yourself seemingly becomes secondary to internet usage. Aches and pains, such as headaches and backaches occur due to being sedentary and sitting for long periods of time.
Coincidentally, technology can help treat internet addiction
Though it may sound contradictory, a person struggling with Internet Addiction Disorder can find a number of resources online to treat this condition! There are ways to use the internet to decrease your dependency on the internet, and help yourself entirely on your own.
There are countless therapy techniques you can find online; support groups, Cognitive Behavior Therapy workbooks, counseling, strategies to gradually reduce internet use, among many others.
Other Methods of treating Internet Addiction Disorder
If you find that you’re struggling to decrease your internet usage on your own, it’s a great idea to seek outside help from professionals specializing in addictions and compulsive behavior.
Individual and or group therapy is an excellent way to effectively treat Internet Addiction Disorder. One of many methods used within therapy include Cognitive Behavior Therapy, also known as CBT, which is a treatment plan that mental health professionals implement in a variety of situations.
CBT helps to productively change the way you think and behave. When treating Internet Addiction Disorder, the professional aids the client in learning techniques to control their thoughts and feelings. With this, it helps the client to gain a better sense of control and reduce their impulses and triggers. The therapist will also help the client to set short and long term goals for recovery.
There are multiple 24 hour helplines that you can call to speak to someone specializing in counseling who can give you helpful guidance. Each state has various resources that can be taken advantage of.
Long Term Prognosis
If you are feeling as though you might have Internet Addiction Disorder, it is absolutely treatable with the proper tools and resources. Definitely reach out and ask for help so that you can achieve your highest quality of life again!