Internet Addiction is a very serious problem today and what’s even more dangerous is that we don’t even realize we have internet addiction. Everything we want, we need and we require is available on the internet today. We can’t even imagine staying away from the internet even for a single day. This is how well internet and computer are ingrained in our contemporary society and has changed the way we live our lives more than any other technological medium yet.
Despite this, we know relatively little about these online addictions and how internet addiction limits thinking!
The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free.
What is Internet Addiction? (Cyber Addiction)
As of April 2020, Almost 4.57 billion people are active users of the internet, encompassing 59% of the global population. With more than half the world using internet today, you may ask “Should internet be considered an addiction?” While many believe that surfing the web or binging series on Netflix or cat videos in YouTube is a relatively harmless act, but when you spend much of your time on the internet or computer that it starts interfering with your daily life and reduces your work productivity then it can be classified as internet addiction.
When your obsessive internet dependency becomes a hindrance, taking precedence over the most important aspects of one’s life – relationships, work, school and mental health then it is definitely internet addiction.
How to know if you are addicted to the internet?
One of the problems with internet addiction is that most people don’t realize that they are suffering from internet obsession and are internet addicts. Now that you know how the internet is an addiction, find out whether you are addicted to internet.
1. You anticipate about going online again
How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go online again? You check your phone or computer to see if there is anything new in the online world, and there is nothing. Five minutes later, you check it again and still nothing. Ten minutes later, surely something interesting must have happened; “maybe somebody must have tagged me in photo or somebody must have messaged me”. There is nothing new yet you feel the urge to check it again and again. There is you Red Flag No. 1.
2. You start focusing on the virtual world rather than the real world you live in.
Addiction to internet leads to time-disruption, which subsequently results in interference with regular social life, including academic, professional performance and daily routine.
- You have jeopardized or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational, or career opportunities because of the internet.
- Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when attempting to cut down the use of the internet.
- You use internet in an increasing amount of time in order to achieve satisfaction.
- You’ve had repeated, unsuccessful efforts to cut back, control, or stop internet use
- Feeling euphoria while performing internet-based activities.
- Use of internet to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood. (feelings of hopelessness, guilt, anxiety, and depression)
- You get irritated whenever people rebuke you for your internet usage and deny the facts even though you know in your heart you have a problem.
3. Evaluate your Mental Health to check if you have internet addiction.
Do you always feel a void in your life when you are away from the internet? You always feel that you are lonely and nobody is there for you. To escape these feelings do you find your way back to the internet? This may mean that you have Internet Addiction. A study of Chinese high school students (2010) suggested that individuals with moderate to severe risk of internet addiction are 2.5 times more likely to develop depressive symptoms than their internet addiction-free counterparts.
4. Follow the Stats and the Facts to clear your confusion.
There are various applications and plug-ins for your mobiles and browsers to measure the screen-time and your online presence. How much time do you spend on the web daily? Is it the better part of your time which you should have used for working? Are your screen-time use results alarming you? If yes, then you can conclude that you have an internet addiction.
How to deal with internet addiction?
1. Identify the activity you spend most time on internet
To most effectively help yourself with internet addiction, it is important to understand what you are doing online.
- Are you playing games?
- Posting or Scrolling social media
- Watching series or videos
- Reading and sharing on social media
Once you identify where you spend most of your time then you need to be strict and disciplined. Block the website and eliminate the apps that contribute the most to your addiction. If it is hard to leave them at once then you can set a schedule for these things and stick to that schedule!
2. Practicing the opposite
Once you have identified where you spend the most time and what triggers your internet addiction it is important to create a necessary intervention. To identify your triggers ask yourself
- What day do you spend most of the time online?
- What time do you usually begin?
- How long do you stay online?
- Where o you typically use the internet?
Once you answer these questions then you must try to disrupt these routine and “practice the opposite”. For example:
- If you use the internet on weekends the most then try shifting it to week-days and very litter internet activity on weekends.
- If you begin your day by checking your messages or emails then try having a shower and breakfast before anything else.
- If you use the internet while lying on the bed then try to use a chair and table.
3. Setting goals to stop internet addiction
Many times our attempts to cut down or control the internet use doesn’t work since we rely on ambiguous plans to trim the hours without determining how we will spend our time or the remaining hours.
Set the right and reasonable goals. You can’t immediately cut down all the internet usage. Try to shorten the amount of time however set the schedule in a way that “internet use” has frequent slots. This way you will not relapse and be in an internet-frenzy but will also be able to slowly control your habit.
4. Abstinence from the activities that trigger your internet addiction.
Since you are asking “how to get rid of internet addiction” then you must certainly know what triggers your internet addiction. For some people it may be gaming, for some, it’s chatrooms or answering mails, online shopping, etc. If you have identified a particular application and failed to moderate its use then complete abstinence from those activities might be the right thing to do. This doesn’t mean that you have to abstain from the internet altogether but it just means that you need to eradicate the cause that triggers your internet addiction. For example
- A person might be addicted to games like PubG, then you must stop and block using this application altogether however you can still use other applications of legitimate use or which you find less appealing.
5. Reminder Cards
You can easily get overwhelmed by stopping the activities that you initially thought were the only escape to your problems. At times like these, when you get hopeless and tired of trying it is easy to relapse again. To avoid these make reminder cards that can easily fit in your pockets or mobile cases.
These reminder cards may include
- Major problems caused by internet addiction
- Benefit from cutting down internet use or abstaining from a particular application.
Whenever you feel the urges to indulge in these activities then try reading these reminder cards. Read these several times a week. Remind yourself why you are doing this and that it is all worth it. This type of clear minded assessment of consequences is required and will help in relapse prevention
6. Personal Inventory to replace Internet Addiction
Whether you are trying to cut down or abstain from a particular application, it is a good time for you to develop some alternative personal activity. Maybe you had stopped playing sports like football, basketball or spend less time going for walks or hiking. Start these activities again. It is important to keep yourself busy and try to avoid being idle at all times. An empty mind is an internet’s workshop. Rekindle your interest in the activities you enjoyed earlier and soon you fill forget that internet was the only thing that provided you solace.
7. Support Groups
If you have tried all the options above then it’s highly unlikely that you are still struggling with internet addiction however if you still do then support groups may be the right option for you. You might be driven to internet addiction due to a lack of real-life social support. When you start finding comfort online then it greatly contributes to internet addiction. Furthermore, sometimes a great trauma like the death of a loved one, an ending relationship, or job loss may lead you to use the internet as a distraction. At such times you must seek help and enrol yourself in appropriate social groups with the help of a certified clinician.
Support groups are tailored to the patient’s particular life situations and will enhance your ability to make friends with people who are in a similar situation. Talking it out always helps loosing that knot and burden in your head and heart.
8. Family Therapy
Lastly, family’s support is necessary in any type of addiction. You may have disrupted your relationship with your family, friends or partners but this is the right time to rekindle them. This way you can save your relationships as well as their support helps you remain strong while fighting with internet addiction.
- Educate your family on how addictive the internet can be and what problems you are facing.
- Families should try to reduce the blame in addicts and instead try to be supportive and helpful.
- Improve communication with your family that initially drove you to find comfort online.
Understanding addiction to internet and why you get addicted?
We know internet addiction leas to various problems in our personal and social life, but despite that, we can’t stop using the internet. We know better than anyone else what is good or bad for us yet we lose pour will power and give in to our internet addiction.
Why do we get addicted to internet?
Internet games like PubG, card games, or binge-watching Netflix are very easy and addictive while our daily activities like concentrating on studies make us lethargic and we procrastinate. There is a reason for this. It boils down to one simple hormone called DOPAMINE. It is the neurostimulator that makes us desire things. Do not underestimate the power of dopamine. It is a very strong hormone that controls almost all the activities of our body.
When we keep on doing high dopamine activities, i.e. the activities that make us feel the happiest and satisfied then our body gets used to high dopamine and will program the dopamine receptors that way as well. Thus our desire for low dopamine releasing activities dies and we fall in traps of internet addiction and other addictions as well. That’s why we can easily watch movies and games for hours but making our bed every morning still feels like a struggle.
Games like PubG, social media platforms, Netflix and youtube are high dopamine stimulators that make us addicted to them as well as the internet. We should only watch these in a controlled and timed manner so that we can maintain a balance and stay away from internet addiction.
Physical Harms of Internet Addiction
Internet addiction has many emotional and mental effects but it also degrades our physical health.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (pain and numbness in hands and wrists)
- Dry eyes or strained vision
- Backaches and neck aches
- Severe migraines and headaches
- Sleep disturbances
- Pronounced weight gain or weight loss.
Thus it is necessary that we cut down on internet and do what’s best for us.
You may ask who is safe from internet addiction? Well, the answer is no one. In the last decade, the internet has become an integral part of our life. What initially was created for reducing our problems has now turned into a leading form of addiction. We need to understand the severity of Internet Addiction and it’s relation to psychopathology and self-esteem.
Stop denying what you already know. If you feel like you are addicted and need help, don’t feel shy or ashamed and go ahead. It is much more common than you think it is and you aren’t the only one. Seek the best options suited for you to get better and live a happy life.