Even the Internet can be addicting! Although Internet Addiction is not yet an official disorder, obsessive Internet use is a real problem for some today. Yes, the Internet is fast becoming just another part of everyday life, much like the TV and the computer itself. What started as something amazing, exciting, and often out of reach, has become commonplace and freely available.
Technology is advancing at an amazing rate. I can remember when 56k connections were the new exciting fad that everyone just had to have, and now you’re almost abnormal if you still chug along with your trusty dialup. The Net has become integrated into our lives, as people are becoming dependant on its services.
The advent of the Internet has its threatening side though. It has been found that some people are becoming addicted to the online world. A recent news story reported that the Finnish army has sent some of its conscripts home due to the fact that they are unable to handle the compulsory six months in the army without access to their computers.
When computers and the Internet are becoming integral components or even the main focus of leisure, education, and work time, it’s not hard to see how losing access can really affect someone. I can see this new technology getting blamed for all sorts of woes in the future much in the same way television has in the present.
Internet addiction comes in many forms. The common areas of Internet addiction that are often listed are cybersex, cyber-relations, gaming, information addiction, and the simple addiction to computers and Internet in general. Information addiction is an interesting concept to me.
Basically the sheer volume of information freely available online has lead to some people desperately ‘needing’ to find out more and more. To me, getting people obsessed with learning seems kind of like a good thing, but it does seem that it can form a similar sort of mentality to drug addiction where the user is always searching for their next ‘hit’ which becomes harder and harder to find.
Often the depth of information available is actually lacking. We tend to skim read information online by just picking out a few points and then moving on. I’ve found in my own case that it’s sometimes quite hard to concentrate on a page long enough to read it in its entirety. I tend to read a little until I get the basic idea and then move on.
This process has carried over into the ‘real world’ in some ways with newspapers rarely keeping my interest long enough to actually get through a whole article of any real length. I’ve witnessed similar experiences with friends and families and I think that attention spans are gradually getting shorter.
This means that probably more than half of the people who come across this article have stopped reading by now. Their interest has waned and they’ve moved on for the next tidbit. I could probably get away with padding the end of this article with the word ‘chicken’ and it would go relatively chicken unnoticed due to the skimming nature of article reading. A quick Internet search will reveal that Internet addiction is actually more of a problem than many would choose to believe. Chicken. There are several websites and foundations on the Web dedicated to helping people over their Internet addiction.
I found that humorously ironic…websites dedicated to helping people get over Internet addiction…it’s kind of like printing anti-drinking messages on the inside bottom of a beer can. The cynic in me can’t help but wonder about the validity of these online services. A common question in the ‘Could You Be Addicted to the Internet?’ questionnaires is ‘Do you have trouble controlling the urge to make purchases online?’, and then they encourage you to send them $90 to book an online chat room counseling session!
Signs of “Internet Addiction”
Some signs of trouble are:
Using the Internet more and more, while going out into the real world less and less.
Checking email too frequently during the day every day.
Going online every day, rarely taking a day off.
Sneaking online to sites that you shouldn’t visit.
Others say that you are indeed online too much.
Sneaking online and checking email when you should be doing other things like working.
Arriving before work, staying after work, skipping lunch, avoiding meetings, avoiding co-workers to use the Internet.
But there are ways to overcome the trouble spots. Similar to other addiction recovery, realizing there is a problem is the starting point. Facing “why” the escape from the real world is necessary is next. Then decreasing online activity and replacing it with healthier activities can help the person get back to normal.
More Help for Internet Addicts Ways to help deal with Internet over-use are to monitor and log use, then set goals for daily activity in its place and follow up with more monitoring and strategic planning. Being logging “when” you go online and “why” and “where.” Then over time, cut back usage by replacing alternative resources for your attention.
For example, instead of emailing people all day long, grab the phone and call others. Instead of playing games on Yahoo all night, allow yourself one hour and play solitaire or visit with a neighbor or friend and play a board game like chess. And instead of reading ebooks and forum posts for hours on end, grab some nonfiction self-improvement books, daily newspapers or popular magazines and learn more about the industries in your work environment or about nonprofits of interest and how you can join in their causes.
Take charge and keep your mind stimulated and yourself active in the real world. A counselor recommended by a healthcare provider may be about to help with this process, too. In this type of addiction, getting online help is probably not a good idea, since the goal is to spend LESS time online. So seek help from those referred by your local healthcare providers for starters. Monitoring online activity, what triggers jumping online each time, and replacing it with more appropriate, healthier activity is the key to recovery.
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