Internet addiction is defined as a number of behaviors of addictive character done executed by the means of internet. Those include: online gambling, addiction to pornography, online gaming, Facebook and other activities characteristic for the new millennium.
However, since addiction to internet gaming has same symptoms as problem gambling, it should not be treated differently from addictions to online gaming, online gambling, pornographic websites, etc. On the other hand, term “internet addiction disorder” refers to compulsive online activities that are related to the network, just in another way – replying and writing e-mails, forum discussions, staying informed, reading online news, magazines, articles, extracts, etc.
Apart from the term internet addiction disorder, other terms are also used to connote internet addiction, such as problematic computer use, compulsive internet use, internet overuse, pathological computer use.
Causes of internet addiction
Self-treatment of a psychological disorder – Many people mask anxiety, depression or some other psychological disorders through internet use.
Hunger for information – some people are “information addicts” – their hunger for knowledge is overwhelming that it prevents them to stop internet browsing or reading articles that offer them specific information.
Shyness or social phobia can be the root problem that leads to internet addiction. A person can try to escape the real world that he or she is afraid of, in the safer environment of the on-line phantasy. Many people feel anxiety in direct contact with other people and they feel more relaxed interacting with them through internet.
Loneliness and a desperate need to meet other people may lead to addiction to internet dating websites and chats.
Compulsiveness – replacing other addictive behaviors with internet addiction. It often happens that a person becomes addicted to internet or other on-line activity that sustains other compulsive behaviors. Problem gamblers or shopaholics will switch to on-line gambling or on-line shopping.
Indicators of internet addiction:
- An individual is preoccupied with internet use, thinks about previous or future online activity;
- The need to use internet for longer periods of time;
- A person needs to make an effort to control, reduce or stop internet use;
- An individual feels restlessness, irritability or depression when attempting to reduce internet use;
- An individual loses the perception of time while online and/or spends more time online than originally planned;
- There is a potential risk of negative effects on a significant relationship, job or other carrier opportunities due to internet;
- Lying and deceiving family members, the therapist and other people to hide internet addiction;
- Using internet as an escape from problems.
Internet use becomes the most important activity in life for internet addicts leading them to being obsessively preoccupied with it. When in front of the computer an addict experiences a feeling of euphoria.
Internet addiction in young people
It is common knowledge that children and young people play on-line video games, use Facebook or send messages more often than adults.
Psychologists identify several signs that indicate overuse of internet.
Fatigue – The child has difficulties getting up in the morning, it feels sleepy and there are clear indications of sleep pattern disturbances.
Lack of attention and focus – academic performance dropping, etc.
Reducing the number of social contacts and emotional relationships – both with family members and friends.
Reduced interest for all hobbies apart from internet.
Disobedience that enables a person to deny accepting the problematic use of internet.
How is internet addiction treated?
For patients suffering from behavioral addictions such as problem gambling, compulsive overeating, internet, video games, shopping, pornography addiction and similar, group or individual treatments were designed. Treatment plan is personalized to suit each patients individual needs. Our team of experts at LORIJEN Addiction Center has been successfully treating all types of addiction for over two decades.
The patient is taught through diverse personalized therapeutic activities how to regain control over his life, how to control the desire for internet or video games and how to recognize and overcome risk situations. Duration of treatment depends on severity and cause of addiction, patient’s psychological profile, frequency of visits etc.
Đukanović B., Knežević Tasić J., “Bihevioralne zavisnosti u Srbiji” (Behavioral addiction in Serbia), Izdavačka knjižernica Zorana Stojanovića, Sremski Karlovci, 2015.
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