1.3 Addictive Dependency on The Internet

by Ric Epley

“I don’t even help [my children] with their homework in the evening because I’m in the chat rooms, and I don’t help put them to bed because I don’t realize how late it is. I also don’t help them get ready for school in the morning like I used to do because I’m checking my e-mail. And I just can’t stop myself.”   -Raymond, an Internet addict, Caught Up in the Net (Young,1998).

Internet addiction is defined as any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment according to www.NetAddiction.com, a site dedicated to internet addiction since 1995.  Internet addiction has also been called internet dependency and internet compulsivity. This condition has attracted many popular researchers and traditional media, and this consideration has paralleled the development of computer growth, smartphone usage and internet access. Dependency on the internet may also be defined as using the internet for extended periods of time, coupled with disengaging themselves from different types of social contact and concentrating totally on the internet (Bai etal, 2001). This behavior leads to decreased and/or poor interpersonal relations with their family and friends. The use of the internet for a long time for every week, for the most part; use excessive playing of internet games, porn and shopping are several ways the internet can foster an addictive behavior.  The following offers some hypothesis on dependency, elements predictive of problematic internet overuse and psychological factors associated with problematic internet use.

Why Do People Become  Dependent On The Internet?

For dependent Internet users, their extreme behavior may lead to stress coping strategy. An investigation of Internet-dependent children in Germany revealed examples of staring at the TV, communication, lack of concentration in school lectures, and favored procedures for adapting to negative feelings that contrasted from other youngsters.

The Internet may likewise use as a forum for extending social communities and, like this, improving the meaningful relationship, self-confidence, social capacities, and social support. In spite of the fact that the individuals who used the Internet for online chat trusted that the Internet is mentally beneficial to them, they likewise believed that regular Internet users are desolate and that the Internet can be addictive. It is, in this way, contended “chat” users who are socially dreadful might use the Internet as a type of low-risk social approach and a chance to practice social behavior and relational abilities, which may help them enhance collaborations in eye to eye social situations. (Brenner, 1997). Others have recommended that individuals with Internet dependence use the Internet as a method of dealing with stress against fundamental psychological, developmental issues (Kim et al, 2000).

Both men and women with cybersex issues show maladaptive adapting, molded behavior, and dissociative re-enactment of life injury, romance issue, intimacy brokenness, and early dependency behavior. Specialist’s reports that a significant number of patients addicted to this activity, with both Internet addiction and sexual dependence, with the standard issues are related to addictive behavior (Greenfield, 1999).

Elements Predictive Of Problematic Internet Use

A few reviews have analyzed the part of personality factors intemperate Internet use. Higher recurrence of Internet use, an absence of tirelessness (a part of impulsivity), and online group enrollment significantly anticipated dangerous Internet use among students. Many Internet-dependent young people had more interpersonal issues than sound users (Anderson, 2001). Personality variables, for example, high harm avoidance (HA), low self- directedness, and low cooperativeness were emphatically connected with early dependency on the internet. Early Internet dependence strongly links to social tension and discontent with companion collaborations, family communication, family attachment, and family violence exposure (Mazza & Reynolds, 1999). Hazard components for Internet dependency in young people were identified as being male, drinking in behavior, family disappointment, and experience of stressful events. Comparable relationship with early Internet dependence was found in habitual alcohol drinking, huge family conflict, low connectedness to school and living in rural areas (Ehrlich, 1998).

Psychological Factors Associated With Early Dependency on the Internet

Internet dependent people may experience issues suppressing their excessive online practices, in real life. Early Dependency incorporates side effects, for example, distraction and preoccupation with the internet, withdrawal manifestations, resistance, futile endeavors to control the Internet use, and proceeded with over the top Internet use in spite of the adverse outcomes. There is the loss of enthusiasm for previous hobbies, entertainments and except for, Internet use. The Internet is used to escape or get relief from dysphoria mood and to hide their Internet use; individual may lie to their family, advisors, or others (Greenberg et al, 1999). Psychological factors, for example, using the Internet to escape from self-disappointment, to manage stress, self-control, having a poor consideration and attention control, and emotional feelings have been observed to be associated with the development of Early Dependency, these factors severely stress the life of adolescents (Lee et al, 2001).

Health Hazards

The known Health risks related to Internet dependency seem identified with lack of sleep or disturbance. The hazards such as insomnia or sleep deprivation, apnea, witnessed snoring, teeth pounding, and bad dreams was likewise higher in Internet addicts contrasted with other addicts and non-addicts (Park & Song, 2002).

In an article written by Jerald Block, a physician writing for PsychiatryOnline, he stated that there is a movement to include internet addiction as a disorder in the DSM -V, the diagnostic manual that is the standard for behavioral disorders. He argues that the diagnosis is a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder that involves online and/or offline computer usage. Dr. Block names three subtypes of internet addiction – email, sexual addiction and excessive gaming. He further goes on to propose four components of each: 1) excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives, 2) withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible, 3) tolerance, including the need for better computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use, and 4) negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue (2007). However, the DSM does not contain a formal diagnosis of Internet addiction as of this writing.

A 2009 study in the European Journal of Radiology suggests that the structural changes in the brains of Internet addicts are similar to those suffering from chemical addictions. A study appearing in a 2009 issue of Cyberpsychology and Behavior reports that 25 percent of Internet users met that study’s criteria for Internet addiction within the first six months of use (Milan et al, 2009).

Internet overuse can also lead to sedentary lifestyles, weight gain and a decline in physical fitness due to hours sitting in front of a computer or other access device. Other symptoms can include carpal tunnel syndrome, dry eyes, migraine headaches, a decline in personal hygiene and back aches, according to Maressa Hecht, founder of Computer Addiction Services and a member of the Harvard Medical School. In an original survey conducted by Ryan Crosbie and Ric Epley, results show a strong correlation between neck pain and smartphone usage (Crosbie & Epley, 2017).

Depression has been linked to Internet overuse by researchers at the Institute of Psychological Sciences in Leeds, UK. Researchers found those study participants who exhibited signs of Internet overuse engaged disproportionately than the normal population in sites devoted to pornography, gaming, social networking and chat rooms. They theorized that Internet addicts’ use of these sites as replacements for real-life socializing was resulting in depression. However, there is debate as to whether depression results from, or is a cause, or internet overuse (Bradley, 1990). A study published in the “Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine” found depression, as well as ADHD and social phobia, to increase the chances of excessive Internet use in adolescents (Park, 2002).

Evidence also suggests that internet overuse can contribute to sleep disturbances. Studies of Chinese and American children, published in the “Journal of Sleep” and the “Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics,” found that computer use among adolescents was associated with later bedtimes, later waking times, less restful sleep and an overall decrease in sleep. The use of computers before bedtime has also raised concerns among sleep experts, including Phyllis Zee, a neuroscience professor at Northwestern University, that the light from screens is affecting circadian rhythms and possibly contributing to insomnia (Cocke, 2013).

Conclusion
Internet dependency and/or excessive Internet use is problematic. The increase in early dependence on the web is expanding every day affecting particularly teenagers and younger school students (Chou & Hsiao, 2002). With the quickly growing Internet use among all generations. Dependency on the Internet or Internet Addiction has emerged as a worldwide medical problem. Parents should be vigilant and any adolescent exhibiting behavioral issues and/or poor educational performance with a history of internet use should be screened for Internet Addiction. Early treatments may incorporate counseling on monitoring of Internet use either by self or including family members urging eye to eye socialization, guaranteeing a sufficient amount of sleep, exercise, and a balanced eating regimen or diet.

Since the internet era is still so new, the full consequences of extensive use are unknown.  Some people argue that with all this information in our homes, the next generation will be smarter and more accomplished.  Others worry that our minds are actually going to become less reliant on our own memories and more reliant on external digital information coupled with an ever decreasing attention span and less empathy.  Some countries, South Korea ( “Information Culture Center of Korea”, 2001) and China (Whang et al, 2003) in the forefront, have been reporting since the 1990s that computer addiction is a serious problem and are trying to find out how to treat or prevent it (“Korea Network Information Center”, 2002).

For those addicted, there is a compulsive need which can be as serious as a drug addict looking for their next score (Goldberg, 1996). Many families today are being affected by internet addiction.  Parents, teens, and college students all have shown an increase in internet addiction.  Many of these people feel distracted or unable to function if they are not sitting at their computer or searching the web. Creating awareness, more studies and continual monitoring are all good first steps toward understanding and preventing Internet addiction from becoming a larger issue going forward.

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