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Understanding and Curbing Internet Addiction

Updated on September 21, 2014

There is no other place in the world as convenient, informative and entertaining as the Internet. Whether we are yearning for an update on our favorite sport team, keeping in touch with our friends, or playing an online game, the Internet provides us with an infinite amount of things to do. Although the Internet has opened a world of possibilities for forthcoming as well as present generations, expanding our horizons and exposing us to different cultures and ways of life, we can be exposed to many dangers as we hit the road exploring the information highway. With news at our fingertips, social media networks providing creative expression, and the ability to conduct research, the positive side of technology can easily blind us, leaving us addicted to the Internet. Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. Nowadays, there is a thin line between casual technology use and addiction. Usage of the Internet has become a portal to knowledge and digital adventure for many, but the negative effects are dominating as well. If not treated, technology addiction could cause many harmful effects. The drive to be online leads to deteriorating relationships, a reduction in professional or school performance and an increased likelihood of experiencing other mental health disorders. Eventually, victims suffering from IAD will reach a point of tolerance where more and more Internet, phone, or other technology use is required to stop feelings and symptoms of withdrawal.

The majority of the time, hearing the word “addiction” triggers a visual of narcotics, damaging a person’s relationships, work and education ethic, and health. Although IAD can create the same sort of damage, leading us to neglect our family, friends and obligations, it can provide us with some overlooked benefits such as a base for knowledge, a way to fortify relationships, and a ease of communication if your IAD is not extreme. The Internet enables you to access information sources from around the world, giving you the ability to conduct research and business transactions. Users can access international libraries, museums and schools for a wide range of information. Although the Internet can harm personal relationships if it is not used in moderation, it can also make relationships stronger because of the ability to communicate easily. Another amazing aspect of the Internet is the possibility of creating new friendships with people around the world that you can meet through chat rooms and discussion forums. You have the potential to develop a network of friends around the world who share your interests and ideas.

Although the Internet has provided a way to shop, work, communicate, transfer data, stay connected and even socialize without leaving the comfort of home, this technology also has the ability to consume some users to the point that it interferes with normal living, progressing into extreme IAD. Some potential problems associated with Internet Addiction Disorder include isolation and seclusion, lack of social skills, personal relationships, and hazardous health risks. Addicts can withdraw themselves from face-to-face social interaction by taking part in Internet activities alone.

Unfortunately, quitting Internet addiction is not as simple and painless as we might assume it to be. Many studies, researches, and surveys found victims of IAD having a hard time coping when forced to unplug from technology. Statistically, four in five students experienced mental and physical distress as well as panic, confusion and extreme isolation. Other emotions that Internet addicts confessed to included fretfulness, confusion, anxiety, irritability, insecurity, nervousness, paranoia, and loneliness.. Protect yourself from the harmful risks linked to Internet Addiction Disorder to avoid transforming into people like the participants of Professor Susan Moeller’s research.

Since Internet addiction disorder is a relatively new phenomenon, there is little research on the effectiveness of treatment procedures. Some professionals advocate abstinence from the Internet, while others argue that it may be unrealistic to have a person completely end all Internet use. As society becomes more and more dependent on computers for business transactions, educational programs, entertainment, and access to information as well as interpersonal communication, it will be difficult for a computer-literate person to avoid using the Internet. If the addict leaves the problem untreated they will face more conflicts, as well as jeopardizing their academic standing or employment which is why dealing with IAD is best to do early. Learning how to use the Internet in moderation is often the main objective in therapy, analogous to the way that people with eating disorders need to come to terms with food. In addition, the person should engage in more social activities outside of the Internet. IAD can be a very challenging obstacle to overcome especially for the younger generation and teens as peer pressure plays an important role. If online gaming, Facebooking or tweeting, and emailing are a part of their friends’ life, they wouldn’t want to give up their own access to the Internet for fear of jeopardizing their friendship or being cast as an outsider. Social, emotional and physical problems connected with IAD can multiply with the snap of a finger. Therefore, the best way to deal with this disorder is to never even encounter it. For example, start making it a point to contact a friend or family member every day, whether on the phone or in person at a coffee shop. Make a list of people you enjoy being with, post it on your refrigerator and make a check mark next to the person's name each time you make a real contact. Once you start making connections again, you'll feel less of an urge to feed your Internet addiction. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind”. In this case, hide your computer out of sight. Turn the computer and monitor off completely when your Internet time is up. Cover your monitor with a cloth if your computer isn't portable. Put yourlaptop away in its case in a place where you can't see it. Most importantly, limit your time online. Decide on a period of usage for yourself. When your time is up and you start rationalizing that more time is okay, remind yourself that you can browse again the next day, then go outside and take a walk.

In conclusion, addictions have mainly focused on highs that are produced from the use of drugs or other external forces that affect the brain’s chemical responses. However it has recently been brought to the public’s attention that an individual can receive a similar kind of “high” from using the Internet. This malady has been termed Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). Although it is difficult to estimate how widespread the problem is, it is given that the issues are a serious public health concern. As the Internet has tremendous potential to affect the emotions of humans and in turn, alter our self-perception and anxiety levels, we should all be aware of this potentially harmful disorder and protect ourselves.

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