What is internet addiction? Does it really exist? What are the symptoms and how would you know if you are suffering?

Internet addiction

What is it?

Internet addiction is an impulse control disorder and can be compared with gambling addictions. Excessive use of the internet disrupts relationships and quality of life.

What is the evidence that it exists?

A leading US psychiatrist has claimed internet addiction is now a serious public health issue that needs to be recognized as an official disorder. With excessive use of the internet including constant emailing, games, videos and constant browsing, Dr Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health & Science University based in Portland argues that internet addiction is a compulsive impulsive disorder. The first inpatient facility for internet addiction was opened in the US in 2013.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of an internet addiction include excessive use, tension, depression and feelings of anger – especially when internet-connected devices are hard to access. Losing track of time and feeling the need to compulsively check your computer, are also signs of internet and technology addiction.

If you feel moody, depressed or restless when you try and cut down on your use of the internet and if you’re risking aspects of your life including relationships and your job because of the internet then you could be suffering from internet addiction.

What can you do?

Set boundaries around the time when you access the internet. Avoid answering emails after work. Go for a walk. Leave the house/office and all internet-connected devices for small periods of time and build up to longer internet-free time. Keep laptops, tablets and all internet-connected devices out of the bedroom and away from mealtimes.

A regular complete digital detox will also ensure you completely disconnect from digital and the internet.

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We take a look at the definition, symptoms and causes of internet addiction and offer advice on what to do if you think you are suffering
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