Although Internet addiction has not yet been universally accepted as an official disorder, it is a reality that affects significant numbers of people worldwide.
Internet addiction is characterised by one or more of a wide range of symptoms that include:
- A feeling of euphoria when involved in Internet activities
- Neglecting family and friends to spend more time online
- Skipping sleep to stay online
- Withdrawing from activities previously considered pleasurable
- Feeling anxious, ashamed, depressed or guilty from online activity
- Repeated attempts to control the behavioural pattern
- Dishonest behaviour to hide the level of Internet usage.
There will also be a general preoccupation with the Internet, requiring more and more online time to reach satisfaction levels. This escapist method of relieving unwanted moods can become all-consuming to the point where it adversely affects relationships, work or education. Attempts to control, cut back or stop the behaviour patterns can also prove very difficult.
With everyone’s Internet usage profile being different due to, for example, extensive use for work or heavy reliance on social networking sites to stay in touch with distant friends and family, it is difficult to specify an unhealthy level of online time. However, if this activity is causing a neglect of work, relationships or other important aspects of life, then you may have a problem with Internet addiction. In short, if your online activity is hampering your offline/real life, then it’s time to press the reset button and reconfigure the balances in life.
In many cases the addictive behaviour may be quite specific such as:
- Online dating or affairs
- Online pornography
- Online gambling
- Online gaming
- Online shopping.
These types of compulsions often call for education, intervention and a range of coping strategies that will focus on the underlying causes such as relationship or social problems, alcohol abuse and other related health issues.
Almost bizarrely there are many Websites and online resources dedicated to Internet addiction – tests to check if you are headed in that direction and behavioural strategies to lessen the effects. One thing is sure – as the experts debate whether Internet addiction is a clinical disorder, an obsession or a compulsion, the increasingly pervasive influence of the Internet in all our lives will see more and more people seduced into inappropriate or excessive Internet activity.
Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours a day if you want to know more about addictions, including Internet addiction. Call us on the EWP number or email us at
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