The internet is a magical place. You can pay your overdue electric bill, play games with friends, keep up with family, and watch hilarious videos of penguins and babies. The possibilities are endless on the internet, and it’s easy to blink and realize you’ve wasted an hour watching old music videos from 90s alternative rock bands.
But as with any amazing invention, there are people who get carried away. Sure, it’s always fun to poke around online when you’re bored, but when using the internet means you sacrifice time with your family or productivity at your job, then you may have a serious problem. Here are 5 warning signs that you might be addicted to the internet.
When people are addicted to the internet, they often choose to hang out online rather than with the people physically around them. They might ignore family and friends, or feel like their online friends understand them better. In fact, they may take steps to completely replace real-life relationships with online ones. This is an impulse control problem within internet addiction known as Cyber-Relationship Addiction, and can be extremely damaging, given the fact that people are not always forthcoming about themselves online.
This one seems fairly obvious, but there are distinctions. Internet addicts frequently lose track of the amount of time they spend online over and over again. Often, their time spent on the internet gets in the way of completing everyday tasks, like grocery shopping or prepping for a presentation at work. If someone in their life comments on their internet usage, internet addicts will get defensive and may begin to lie about their time spent online.
Many people who spend hours at the computer for work often experience back or neck aches, headaches, carpal tunnel, dry eyes, or strained vision. Internet addicts are no exception. They experience these same physical symptoms that can be directly traced back to their extensive online time. Addicts may also find that they are having trouble sleeping or gaining or losing weight at an alarming rate.
Internet addicts have issues cutting back on their time spent online. They may make several unsuccessful attempts to limit their internet time and continue to visit chat rooms or forums, for example, even if their jobs are in jeopardy. They can also experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop, such as moodiness, restlessness, depression, and irritability.
When people are addicted to the internet, it becomes their outlet for excitement, sexual gratification, or stress release. They may experience a sense of euphoria when online, which can temporarily relieve feelings of depression, sadness, and anxiety. For them, the internet is an escape, and nothing else in their lives makes them feel the same way. However, this can backfire, as they find that they must spend more and more time online to get the same feeling.
Those people who are depressed, have anxiety issues or a history with other addictions, or are generally stressed are at a greater risk of developing an internet addiction. So if this applies to you or someone you know, it could be time to have a conversation and begin limiting your online time.
Internet addiction is more than just using the internet a lot. Do you think someone you know might have a problem? Learn more about internet addiction, or take this quiz to find out if there could be a bigger problem.
How would you help someone that had an addiction to the internet? Let us know!