Are you addicted to the internet?
By Peyton Spencer
The Internet is an integral part of life today. We bank, work, go to school, shop, play, and interact socially online. According to US Consumers, the average amount of time spent on the Internet is three hours per day. But does the neuroscience of addiction manifest in our technological lives? You betcha. Signs of internet addiction in kids and adults are becoming widely recognized and more common.
While the internet has many benefits, excessive use may interfere with daily life. This causes work and relationships to suffer, which are both symptoms of Internet addiction. Cybersex and cyberporn may be the most common types of Internet addiction, however, the 3 most common Internet addictions to look out for include social media addiction, net compulsions, and information overload.
1. Social Media Addiction
If you find yourself compulsively checking social media every spare moment and prioritizing Facebook over actual time spent with family and friends, you might be addicted. Social media users may become consumed with what other people are doing that they check up on them for hours on end. Symptoms can include feelings of jealousy and anxiety over a lack of “likes”. For example, they post a Facebook status and check 20 times that day in hopes that a significant amount of people have liked or commented on it, which creates feelings of validation and self-esteem.
Scientists have proven one physiological reason we constantly check emails or social networks is when we find something interesting or that challenges us to respond, our brains release a burst of dopamine. Although social media isn’t a chemical substance, you can stillbecome hooked on this stimulus overtime. This compulsion leads to checking of mobile devices even when it isn’t safe or appropriate, such as driving a car or during a movie at the theatre. People who neglect real-life relationships for online friends have a serious Internet addiction.
2. Net Compulsions
Net compulsions include things like obsessive online gambling, gaming, shopping, auctions, and stock trading. The Internet makes these activities available day or night without the limitations experienced in real life and the risk of being caught. Accomplishments such as beating high game scores, peer admiration, and purchasing sale items online can add fuel to the fire and lead to obsessive behavior.
The International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction cites a gaming addiction where a boy spent 80 hours a week and 10-14 hours a day playing World of Warcraft. His entire social life existed online while his actual relationships suffered. He admitted that gaming increased his self-esteem.Net Compulsions promise immediate gratification, but result in negative consequences instead like maxed out credit cards, failed relationships, and job-related struggles.
3. Information Overload
The Internet gives access to all the information we could want or need at our fingertips, but in some cases, people become obsessed with staying up-to-date on the latest economic news, celebrity gossip, or technology.
Information overload is a compulsive habit of web surfing, browsing, and researching. It isn’t unusual for people addicted to information to stay up to the wee hours of the night surfing the net. This behavior negatively affects daily activities, such as diminishing quality thinking time, becoming less productive, experiencing a breakdown in organizational processes, and a deterioration of interpersonal communication.
Are You Internet Addicted?
A recent study used a psychometrically developed test to research various aspects of Internet addiction. The study anticipated interactive Internet functions to be more addictive, but the result was the contrary. In a second study, researchers found that people who used the Internet for long periods of time were often in a bad mood when they signed off. As a result, they immediately return to the Internet in order to feel better.
If you do not suffer any of the Internet addiction symptoms mentioned above, you can rest assured that you are engaging in a healthy level of internet use. It’s not always easy to limit your time online and learn to balance this time at home, but you must practice self-control and time management. Don’t blame satellite Internet for your addiction. Instead, accept responsibility and learn how to change your behavior. Your relationships shouldn’t suffer because of an internet addiction. Instead, the Internet should be used to enrich lives rather than consume them.
Reference Sources: Internet Cybersex Addiction
Peyton Spencer has a degree in Communication Studies from Concordia University. She is passionate about traveling, technology, social media and helping others by volunteering for reputable charities. She currently resides in Florida, but will always call Minnesota home.