Online addiction is a growing concern world wide with more and more people becoming increasingly addicted to the internet. Online addictions can be divided into categories such as, online shopping addictions, an online gambling addiction, or cyber sex/porn addiction.
Perhaps a less recognised but growing addiction; particularly among teenagers is that of Social Media Addiction. Both teenagers and indeed many adults find it difficult to not engage with their social media sites frequently throughout the day with some teenagers admitting to checking Facebook over one hundred times daily.
The problem with online addictions is that people are living their lives online and disengage from the present moment they are living in. They are missing out on life, face to face communication and more importantly human contact which is vital to our mental health.
Some people develop online friendships and relationships which they come to depend on for emotional support and loose all interest and contact with real life friends. Others create fake profiles and lives to make them feel better about themselves. These people generally suffer from low self esteem to begin with and can become depressed and further isolated through living their online lives.
Online shopping and gambling can have catastrophic effects on families and friendships with people loosing their homes, jobs, loved ones and getting further into financial trouble through their online activities.
So what signs should we be looking out for if we are concerned that we ourselves or a loved one may have an Online Addiction?
According the The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery some of the signs include the following:
- The individual may need to use the internet more frequently to get satisfaction from the activity
- The individual will be preoccupied with thinking about their last online experience and thinking about or planning for when they will next go online
- When the individual does not have online access they may feel upset, restless, bored, depressed, moody or anxiety ridden
- The individual forgets all out time when online
- The individual may get angry when asked to get off line or share the computer (if it is a family computer)
- The individual cannot stay off the internet no matter how hard they try too
- The individual may consistently lie to loved ones about the amount of time they spend online
- When the individual puts a job, relationship or some other responsibility at risk in order too stay online i.e. forgetting a meeting for work, cancelling on a date, missing an appointment such as dinner with friends/family etc
- The individual may use the internet as a way to escape (or) it has become the only way that person can relax
- The individual while online or having just logged off may feel anxious, depressed, guilty, even hopeless
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have an online addiction, try this simple step to try to gauge the situation. Turn off your computer, tablet, laptop and even your mobile phone for a weekend to see how you get on. Re-read the above list and if you tick multiple boxes you may wish to consider seeking professional help.