The internet and computers are profoundly embedded in modern society, and they have had a greater impact on our lives than any other technology medium so far.
Despite this, little is known about the effects of internet addiction on psychological functioning, mental health, and overall well-being.
While many individuals believe that surfing the internet or binge-watching cat videos on YouTube is a relatively harmless pastime, others spend so much time on computers or the internet that it has begun to disrupt their daily lives. When a behavior or desire becomes a barrier and takes precedence over the most important aspects of one’s life, such as relationships, work, or school, it is called addiction.
Internet addiction is not yet included in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. On the other hand, a two-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health could change that.
The study, which began in August 2017, may give sufficient evidence that the mental health and psychiatric communities in the United States should pay close attention to difficulties originating from excessive internet use.
Professionals who discover internet addiction diagnose it as either an obsessive-compulsive disorder or an impulse control problem. Internet addiction is also known as compulsive computer use, unhealthy internet use, or online dependency.
Five Subcategories of Internet Addiction
The term online addiction refers to a wide range of internet, computer, and mobile technology-related behaviors and impulse control problems.
While no official criteria for diagnosing online addiction exist at this time, experts have recognized five subcategories of computer and internet addiction.
Cybersex addiction is one of the more self-explanatory internet addictions. It includes online pornography, sexual fantasy chat rooms, adult websites and chat rooms, and XXX webcam services.
Obsession with any of these services can compromise one’s ability to form real-world sexual, romantic, or intimate relationships. Those who are addicted to cybersex can obtain treatment in the form of intervention, followed by inpatient or outpatient therapy.
Net compulsions are interactive online habits that can be extremely dangerous, such as online gambling, stock trading, online auctions, and compulsive online shopping. These behaviors can have a negative impact on one’s financial stability and lead to workplace issues.
Excessive spending or financial loss can also cause stress in a person’s relationships. Those who are already sensitive to gambling or spending addiction might easily become hooked online because of the quick and easy access to online casinos and companies.
Cyber Relationship Addiction
Cyber or online connection junkies are concerned with forming and sustaining online relationships, to the point of neglecting and forgetting about their real-life family and friends.Although they can happen everywhere people can engage online, online relationships are most typically formed in chat rooms or on various social networking platforms.
The term “catfish” was coined to describe people who seek internet connections while hiding their true identity and appearance.
A person’s social skills may be limited after being enthralled by an online social life and persona, and their expectations for in-person meetings may be unrealistic.
This frequently results in an individual’s incapacity to create real-life connections, leaving them more dependent on their online connections.
Counseling or treatment is frequently required to address this addiction and accomplish long-term behavioral improvements.
Over the internet, users can access a wealth of information and data. Some people have developed an insatiable desire to collect and organize data as a result of the ease with which they may obtain information.
Knowledge seeking can be a symptom of underlying obsessive-compulsive disorders in some cases.
Compulsive information searching can reduce workplace productivity and even result in job termination. Depending on the degree of the addiction, treatment options might range from different therapy modalities — which try to reduce compulsive behavior and establish coping mechanisms — to medication.
Video Game Addiction
The use of a computer for both online and offline games is referred to as computer game addiction. As computers became more widely available, games like Solitaire, Tetris, and Minesweeper were built into computer software.
Researchers quickly identified obsessive computer game playing as a problem in various scenarios. These games would cause office workers to waste a substantial amount of time, resulting in a major reduction in productivity.
These old games, as well as thousands of new ones, are still available today, and the problem of computer gaming addiction is as widespread as it has ever been.
This is exacerbated by the release of premium gaming technologies and computers that are able to run sophisticated gaming software that creates an immersive experience.
Internet Addiction and Mental Illness
People who were diagnosed with internet addiction had significantly more difficulties managing their everyday tasks, according to a 2016 study.
This includes their ability to socialize in the real world, as well as their day-to-day activities at home, at work, and at school. Additionally, these addictions were linked to much higher levels of depression and anxiety symptoms.
There is debate over whether computer, mobile phone, or online addiction is the cause or consequence of mental health issues.Internet addicts often exhibit symptoms of ADHD, such as difficulty planning ahead, poor time management, and higher-than-average levels of attentional impulsivity. Addicts are also more likely to have a co-occurring disorder, which demands additional therapy and care.
Internet Addiction Treatment
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to dealing with an online addiction. Depending on the intensity of the addiction and the individual’s behavior, several treatment options may be useful.
If you suspect someone you know is abusing the internet excessively, the first step is to plan an intervention or express your concerns about their behavior.
Addiction treatment usually includes therapy, as well as treatment for any co-occurring diseases like anxiety, depression, and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder that may be present.
Medication may be used to manage symptoms of these underlying mental disorders or to control bothersome thoughts about going online if other treatment choices have failed.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an internet addiction, get help as soon as possible. Get in touch with us today to see how we can guide you in the right direction.