Signs of an Internet Addiction

Feb 19, 2024

Internet addiction is an umbrella term for smartphone addiction, social media addiction, or technology addiction. The addiction relates to the unhealthy obsession with the internet. It can become a problem when it interferes with your work, relationships, responsibilities, and health. 

The most common types of internet addiction are:

  • Cybersex - In this case, the addict uses the internet to look at pornography or to cybersex with other people. This can quickly lead to infidelity issues. 

  • Gaming - Some internet addicts spend a large amount of time playing online games or gambling. This can cause financial problems and fallout in their interpersonal relationships. 

  • Information addiction - Some addicts are obsessed with breaking news or online articles for the sake of collecting information. It’s not as harmful as the other addictions, although it can kill time and responsibilities. 

  • Relationship addiction - Internet addicts use chat rooms, message boards, online dating apps, and social media to seek online relationships. They might also use messaging apps like Snapchat or WhatsApp to have online affairs. 

Unfortunately, internet addiction is also a controversial topic. There are questions as to whether it’s an actual mental health disorder or whether it originates from pre-existing mental or behavioral problems. 

There could be numerous reasons why someone spends so much time on the internet. However, more research is needed to determine the cause of internet addiction. 

The American Psychiatric Association says that internet addiction may include one or more of the below-mentioned signs. If you notice that you have three or more of the following, you should consider seeking treatment for your internet addiction. 

Preoccupation with being online

You could be someone who’s preoccupied with using the internet. It could be something that you daydream and fantasize about at work or school. Internet addiction can consume your mind to the point when you think about your next online activity or you anxiously await your next internet session.

More time online needed for more satisfaction

You might find that you need more time online to get the “high” or “euphoria” you’re seeking. You spend more time online than you originally intended. As a result, you increase your internet use with incremental amounts of time to achieve that sense of satisfaction.

This causes you to be late to important events or behind on projects. Your friends and family wonder what happened to you or why you’re avoiding them. Your internet addiction could also cut into your work, school, dinner, sleep, and other priorities. 

Losing track of time

You might find that you struggle to cut back or control your internet use. Or, maybe you’ve been unsuccessful in stopping your internet use altogether. Some addicts try to cut back by going online during a certain time of the day or taking a hiatus. If you find that you struggle in doing so, you might need help with your internet addiction.

Using the internet as an escape

Some addicts use the internet to escape from real-life situations. Internet use, in general, can provide an escape for everyone, including average users. However, internet addiction becomes a problem when it interferes with every aspect of your life. 

Internet addicts often suffer from anxiety, depression, helplessness, and guilt. They could use the internet to achieve a euphoric mood. Some forms of internet addiction that involve cybersex, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), and online dating apps offer that sense of fantasy and offer a dopamine hit. 

Moodiness when internet usage is limited

You might find that you feel anxious, depressed, emotional, irritable moody, or restless when you limit your internet use. You could’ve tried to stop your internet usage altogether but failed. As a result, you could experience impulsive moods and behaviors. This can cause a strain on both your personal and professional relationships. 

Unsuccessful attempts to manage internet use

Addicts lose control of their internet habits. They struggle with the ability to control or reduce their internet use. All they think about is going on the internet or being on the internet, which can make their lives unmanageable as a result. 

Loss or risk of lost opportunities

Internet addiction can also cause severe loss or loss of opportunities. Some addicts lose their jobs or professions, while others deal with huge financial blows. This is particularly the case when their addiction is related to pornography, cybersex, online gaming, or online shopping. 

Back in 2019, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and MentalHealth.gov found that internet addiction is often related to financial loss. Most people with financial issues often go to the internet for help or resolutions. They end up in a deeper hole when they invest in online scams, MLMs, and shady business opportunities. In this case, it would be best to consult the health of a mental health professional.

Hiding internet usage from others

Maybe you find that you hide your internet use from your friends or family. Internet addiction can cause feelings of shame. You might have lied to your friends and family about your internet usage. Some addicts are in denial about their problems.  

Even with therapy you could lie to your therapist about your internet involvement. For example, you might lie about the type of internet activities you do, such as cybersex, pornography, gambling, online shopping, or online dating. 

During therapy, you conceal the amount of time you spend online. You could also lie about controlling or cutting down your internet use. Therapy is successful if you make it work. You could lie to your therapist about working on your recovery when you’re increasing your internet use. 

Treatment for internet addiction

Most experts are against the idea of quitting your use of the internet, especially if it’s impossible. Professional treatment is the best way for a person to develop healthy internet habits and often includes cognitive behavioral therapy. 

This type of therapy encourages them to change their behaviors, beliefs, and thoughts that are often associated with anxiety or depression. The education behind CBT is that negative beliefs trigger negative thoughts, which trigger negative feelings and produce unhealthy behaviors. 

CBT helps them learn how to moderate or control their internet use. Internet support groups can also help manage your internet addiction. As always, consult with a doctor or mental health professional for more information. Reach out to Birches Health today to get started on your recovery. 

Resources:

Internet addiction - Better Health Channel

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