What is Internet Addiction?

Internet Addiction happens when a person is incapable of separating his or herself from a connected computer or device for extended periods of time. It is more than just checking for status updates in the car, at the store, or at the dinner table. It is excessive Internet use to the point in which it begins to interfere with a person’s life. Teens who develop an Internet addiction cannot control their impulses, and their overuse threatens to damage relationships with parents and peers while also hurting their academic and job prospects.

How can I tell if my teen is addicted to the Internet?

Identifying an Internet Addiction can be tricky because the world has come to rely on connectivity. Teenagers especially have grown up in a time in which cell phones are a part of life and they can form relationships through social media without ever meeting someone in person. Because of this, parents may not notice the signs of an addiction because they assume their teenager, like all teenagers, is simply preoccupied with friends online.

To recognize the signs of addiction, parents should not only observe how much time their teen is using a computer or device, but also how they behave when they are disconnected. Is your teen irritable or restless once he or she is cut off from the Internet? Are they lying about their Internet use, or hiding it from you?

Excessive computer use has also been linked to some physical ailments such as back and neck pain, and addicts may also experience long periods of fatigue and sleep deprivation.

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What causes Internet Addiction?

Research has found links between Internet Addiction and other mental disorders such as depression. Internet Addiction can be seen as a form of coping in which the user hopes to escape something that’s troubling them in real life and gains emotional satisfaction from being online.

What are the different types of Internet Addiction?

There are several specific types of Internet Addiction, which can affect people of all ages. Some of them include:

Social Media Addiction: Teens are vulnerable to this type of addiction because of their extended use of apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Negative effects of a social media addiction can include increased narcissism, anxiety, and diminished learning capacity.

Online Gaming Addiction: The inability to disconnect from a game can have a devastating effect on a person’s lifestyle. Gaming addiction is not recognized as a mental disorder, but that doesn’t lessen its severity.

Online Gambling Addiction: A gambling addiction is an impulse control disorder in which a person achieves an emotional response through betting. The growth of online casinos has threatened to create even more addicts as people now have the ability to play 24/7 without leaving their homes.

Internet Sex Addiction: A person who routinely and obsessively uses Internet pornography to achieve emotional satisfaction can be described as a cybersex addict. While not classified as a mental disorder, Internet Sex Addiction can do lasting damage to personal relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I just take my teen’s cell phone away?

Pulling the plug may seem like the most logical solution to an Internet Addiction, but this is akin to asking drug addicts and alcoholics to quit cold turkey. A person cut off from the Internet may experience withdrawal symptoms, leading to more harm than good.

Could my Internet-addicted teen be suffering from another mental disorder?

Yes, a person who obsessively seeks an emotional response from Internet use may be suffering from another mental illness such as depression or anxiety.

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