Understanding Internet Addiction and How to Avoid It

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Writtern by: Aiya Rodjel

Do you find yourself spending too much time playing mobile games? Are you almost always on Facebook? Are you a compulsive online shopper? Well, you might have what is known as internet addiction.

While the internet, in general, is not necessarily bad, anything, when used excessively, can be harmful. In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of internet addiction, such as its causes and effects. We’ll also discuss ways to prevent internet addiction, so you and others can lead well-balanced lives.

Are you addicted to the internet?

Basically, internet addiction disorder or Compulsive Internet Use (CIU) is a behavioral condition wherein a person becomes dependent on the use of the internet. This also applies to the usage of one’s gadgets as a way to cope with the stress that life brings.

The internet addiction problem is slowly being recognized globally. However, it is not officially recognized as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Professionals that do recognize internet addiction as a disorder classify it as either an obsessive-compulsive disorder or an impulse control disorder to aid treatment.

The Philippines is widely recognized as the social media capital of the world. In turn, internet addiction is prevalent in the country. As per Esquiremag.ph, an average Filipino spends 102,054 hours of their life on social media. To put that into perspective, that’s 4,252 days or 11.64 years of one’s life glued to a screen.

Amid the pandemic, Filipinos have been going online more often, primarily to stay updated on the COVID-19 virus. They also use to keep in touch with family and friends. To add to these reasons, a lot of people just use the web to pass the time. Interestingly, while Filipinos are fond of spending time on the internet, the average Pinoy doesn’t have access to a fast internet connection.

Types of Internet Addiction

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Internet addiction is a broad term that covers a range of behaviors and impulse-control problems involving the internet, personal computer, and mobile technology. Like any other disorder, there are different types of internet addiction.

Online gambling addiction is a condition wherein one finds himself engaging in gambling activities on the web. It’s similar to ‘traditional’ gambling as there is money involved in this particular activity. This can be in the form of playing games competitively or betting on sports.

Cybersex addiction is a condition wherein someone gets involved in sexual relations in the virtual space. This causes serious consequences to other aspects of one’s life. This can come in the form of reading a lot of erotic materials, or viewing, trading or downloading pornographic materials. It can also be in the form of participating in adult fantasy chat rooms or cybersex relationships.

Video game addiction occurs when one finds himself compulsively playing games online or offline. While there’s nothing wrong with playing video games, gaming addiction is when one’s gaming gets in the way of a lot of things. The excessive amount of time and energy one exerts into playing video games affects different aspects of a person’s life over a long period of time.

Social media addiction is a behavioral condition wherein a person uses social media in a compulsive manner. This person spends hours at a time browsing on social media. In turn, his life gets negatively affected by his uncontrollable behavior.

Causes of Internet Addiction

Like most disorders, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly causes a person to get addicted to the internet. However, there are causes that usually contribute to internet or technology addiction:

Expression of other addictions.

If a person has a past or existing addiction, this can serve as a trigger for getting addicted to the internet. For example, if a person had a shopping addiction beforehand, it is quite possible to develop a new addiction, like internet addiction.

Social anxiety.

If a person finds it challenging to go on face-to-face interactions, computer use might turn into one’s safe place. Some people find it easier to express themselves by writing or talking on the internet than in real life. People who are very shy also treat the internet as an outlet or as a way to escape.

Environmental factors.

Someone who views the internet as a form of respite usually has problems they can’t deal with in a healthier matter. Being isolated can cause someone to developed mental health disorders, such as internet addiction.

Depression.

In some cases, depression can lead to internet addiction. The fun time spent on the internet provides people temporary relief from everyday life. Those who use the internet as a way to avoid problems may turn into internet addicts.

Effects of Excessive Internet Usage

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Now that most people work or study online, using the internet cannot be avoided. However, excessive usage of the internet can have a lot of negative impacts on one’s life.

Disrupted sleeping patterns

Being glued to a gadget all the time can disrupt one’s sleeping patterns. The blue light emitted by one’s phone restrains the production of melatonin, which controls one’s sleep cycle. In turn, you’ll have a hard time falling asleep. At the same time, you’ll find it difficult to wake up refreshed as well.

Poor time management

Someone who cannot control his internet use can easily lose track of time. This can affect your professional and personal relationships as you’ll forget a lot of appointments.

Neglect of personal hygiene

Because a person addicted to the internet is preoccupied with their activities online, they neglect tasks such as brushing their hair or teeth. They won’t even bother to exert effort to look good because it wouldn’t be something they prioritize in the first place.

Relationship troubles

This isn’t limited to conflict in romantic relationships. Being addicted to the internet can affect your relationships with friends and family. Your loved one would feel neglected because you’re on your phone or computer all the time.

Decreased work or academic performance

A person addicted to the internet exerts a lot of time and effort for their online activities. In turn, their school or work performance gets affected. They’d be distracted all the time so their productivity levels plummet as well.

Vision problems

Excessive use of gadgets can lead to vision problems. You might have to wear glasses if your eyesight gets affected by your computer usage. Some people also experience eyestrain or some pain because they’re in front of a screen all the time.

Body pain

It’s not just your eyes that can be affected by prolonged periods in front of a phone. Some people get neck and back pain from spending too much time in front of their gadgets. This can lead to serious health problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Anxiety

People with internet usage problems get very anxious when they’re forced to go offline. Their mind is always on their online activities so they get focus is on the internet.

Excessive weight gain

A person who’s addicted to the internet tends to be sedentary. After all, a lot of internet activities require skills and concentration. Thus, these people tend to gain weight from being stuck in a single spot for a long period of time. They tend to neglect their health and reach for unhealthy snacks.

How to Avoid Computer Addiction or Prevent Internet Addiction

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Today’s interconnected world puts a lot of people at risk of developing internet addiction. However, not all hope is lost. There are ways for you to control your internet usage. Here are some tips to control the time you spend online:

Turn off notifications.

You’ll be tempted to open your smartphone if you see notifications on your favorite game or social media platform. Turning off your notifications or putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb mode is a small step you can take so your concentration will be on other more important matters.

Connect with others in real life.

This is a great reason for you to bond with your friends. By putting away gadgets, you get to connect with your loved ones better. You get to make more memories together. You’ll have so much fun it’ll limit your time on your gadgets.

Go on a digital detox.

When you don’t have to go online for school or work, try taking up more offline activities. You can read a book or take up journaling. Another way is to avoid using gadgets while having meals. You’ll be encouraged to make conversation with others this way.

Exercise.

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Physical exercise help boost your energy. At the same time, it’ll keep your mind off using the internet as well. It will relieve you of your boredom. Plus, you’ll look and feel better, too. Overall, exercise is a great tip for you to look good and feel good.

Restrain yourself.

Time management is something everyone should work on, but when you have a gaming addiction, it can be difficult to control yourself. You don’t necessarily have to go cold turkey. There are apps that can help you track your internet usage. You can set personal goals to lessen your internet time by checking the app’s timer. It takes some self-control, but the restraint will be worth it.

Get professional help.

To some, internet addiction might be harmless, but the effects can really get in the way of someone’s life. Internet addiction has the same mental health effects as drug addiction. Thus, if you think you need help, you should seek addiction treatment.

You can search for a treatment center listing online. Alternatively, you can confer with friends and family so you can get the addiction treatment you need. Internet addiction is just like any other addiction. It can affect one’s health and other aspects of life. Sometimes, you need help to overcome your problem.

If you think a person close to you needs addiction treatment, you should gently give them tips so they can get their life back on track. Now that everyone is mostly at home, the internet can be a respite from the issues that plague the world. However, anything in excess can be harmful.

Fostering Connections Online

In conclusion, internet addiction can cause a lot of problems in one’s personal and professional or work life. At the end of the day, internet use is not bad, per se. As with anything in life, the internet is what you make of it. That’s why it’s important to find your balance.

You can also use the internet for good. There are a lot of mental health websites that give out tips to lead well-balanced lives. You can even find ways to connect with others in real life. In order to connect with these websites, you need a fast and reliable internet connection.

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