A lot of us may think addiction is limited to alcohol and drugs. However, this isn’t the case. American college students are showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addiction when it comes to the Internet. But how do you know if you’re one of the people suffering from Internet addiction? Here are ways to tell.
You Use the Internet as an Escape
If you aren’t getting the emotional support you need in real life, you may tend to turn to the Internet when you’re feeling stressed, lonely or anxious. Whether it’s talking to Internet friends or watching videos to cheer you up, it becomes a problem when you’re choosing that over your actual life.
Internet addiction has been linked to pre-existing conditions like depression. You tend to use the Internet to try and fill the void. If you’re overly shy and find yourself unable to relate to people in real life, there are numerous apps to find online friends, so you spend your time on there.
It really becomes an escape, though, when you find yourself unable to keep track of time when you’re on the Internet. You lose hours without even realizing it or miss appointments or classes. You also ignore other responsibilities you have in order to spend more time surfing the web.
You Can’t Go Without Being on the Internet
Addiction involves being anxious or depressed when you don’t have access to what you’re addicted to. You also crave it when you aren’t able to get it. Both your brain and your body feel the withdrawal and know the easiest way to curb it is to get more of whatever was making it feel good.
If you notice you feel like you need to have access to the Internet at all times, that’s a sign of addiction. A normal relationship with the Internet allows you to be able to go do things with friends and family or do other activities. If you’re addicted, you’ll want to be on the Internet the entire time you’re doing something else. You may even try and cut your plans short so you can get back to it.
You’re Starting to Have Physical Impacts
If you’re on the computer for excessive amounts of time, it’s bound to have an impact on your body. Headaches and blurred vision can come from staring at the screen so much. Your back may start to hurt from being hunched over. You might notice changes in your weight. Either you’re too skinny because you’re too sucked into the Internet to eat, or being more sedentary will cause you to gain weight.
In the long term, you can have finger and hand issues from typing, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The blue light a screen emits can also seriously damage your sleep schedule. The light can keep your pineal gland from releasing melatonin, which means you won’t get the sleepy feeling. Not getting enough sleep can have severe impacts on your health if it’s prolonged.
People in Your Life Are Taking Notice
If your friends and family are telling you there’s a problem, you should listen. You may also get comments from coworkers or professors if you’re missing work or class frequently. If you’re missing shifts and classes, people aren’t going to be able to ignore that. Also, if you find that you seem to be losing friends because you never hang out with them anymore, that’s another sign.
Still Not Sure?
Dr. Kimberly Young created an Internet Addiction Test you can take to see if your behaviors show an addictive use of the Internet. There are 20 questions you can answer and rate your behavior on a scale of one to five. At the end of the quiz, you tally up your answers and see the category you fall into.
If you’re worried you might be addicted to the Internet, or just are curious about your Internet habits, take the test. The answers could be extremely eye opening. If you do show symptoms of addiction, go to a health care professional. Underlying causes such as depression or anxiety could lead to this addiction and getting treatment for them could help. There are also a variety of treatments that could help with Internet addiction.
Addiction is not something to be taken lightly. If you think you might have a problem, don’t hesitate to get the help you need.
Image via Anna Schultz