Addictions come in many forms. Some seem obvious – like drug or alcohol addiction – but in this day and age, it's not uncommon for a person to develop an internet addiction. Researchers estimate that 6% of the world's population is addicted to the internet (that's about 420 million people!).
Internet addictions are described as an impulse control disorder that does not include the use of an intoxicating drug. It is oftentimes compared to pathological gambling. Internet addictions use the virtual fantasy world to connect with real people through the internet, as a substitution for real-life human connection, which most are not able to achieve face-to-face.The warning signs of internet addiction can include:
- Anticipation for the next time you can get online
- Increasing the amount of times going on the internet to achieve satisfaction
- Unsuccessfully trying to cut back or stop internet use
- Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the internet
- Jeopardized significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunities because of frequent internet use
- Concealing the extent of time spent on the internet
- Using the internet to escape real life issues
Like other addictions, internet addictions have real life consequences for those who suffer (and often their loved ones, too). Addictions can wreak havoc on personal and family relationships, academics, finances, and work. Excessive internet use can cause real life relationships to take the back seat, while online lives are put first. Concealing the amount of time spent online can cause distrust in relationships and result in more time spent alone. It's not uncommon for individuals who have internet addictions to be viewed as socially awkward.
Creating online personas are another way that individuals with internet addictions escape reality. The personas created can either be a completely made-up identity or an exaggeration of themselves. Those who suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety are more likely to create a secret online life.
There is hope, though, for those who suffer. Research has shown that addiction counseling is successful in internet addiction cases. Information on TTHI Counseling Center and our offerings can be found here.
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