Internet Addiction

Everyone get shuddered when the word of “addiction” mentioned. We think about the worst scenarios. We gradate the types of addiction and decide the worst one. Substances, alcohol, cigarettes and gambling are firstly come to mind as addiction in society. Unfortunately, we don’t take seriously one of the most seen addiction in the era. What is this addiction that we are not aware of?

 

 

Everyone get shuddered when the word of “addiction” mentioned. We think about the worst scenarios. We gradate the types of addiction and decide the worst one. Substances, alcohol, cigarettes and gambling are firstly come to mind as addiction in society. Unfortunately, we don’t take seriously one of the most seen addiction in the era. What is this addiction that we are not aware of?

 

INTERNET ADDICTION

 

I realize that I don’t seem guilty. Maybe I’m just a few games, social media, videos, online games, and various websites for you. You can reach me anytime and anywhere as you know. I’m with you 24/7 and it doesn’t bother me. What about you?

                      

If unbreakable computer, internet and food are the three things you will get when you stranded on a deserted island, you need to confess yourself that there is a problem here.

 

 

What is addiction?

 

Addiction is uncontrollable desire towards an object, person or asset. It harms the individual’s mental and physical health, and prevents social life. The individual cannot resist the thing he is addicted. In a classical meaning, addiction includes chemical substance use such as alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. However, behavioral addictions such as gambling, sex, shopping, tv, eating, exercising and video games can be seen. Like chemical addictions, behavioral addictions can show physical and psychological symptoms (preoccupation, mood changes, tolerance, deprivation, interpersonal conflict, reoccurrence)    

 

Besides basic needs of an individual (sheltering, feeding, breeding and socializing), internet has become our one of basic needs recently. But, do we use it in a correct way?

 

 Our Most Insidious Addiction: Internet

   

When we examine behavioral addictions, the place of computer in our lives as the technology develops, and the convenience to the access of internet brings a new addiction; computer and internet addiction.

 

As we know, computer is an abstract concept by itself and it can be concrete with a fellow by its side. These fellows increase as the time goes by. While we were able to use the internet only in computer before, we can use it in our tablets, phones, watches, and televisions now. As a result, we have opportunity to reach internet, anytime and anywhere. When this opportunity restricted we suffer and feel uncomfortable about it.

 

There are types of internet addiction;

 

·         Pathological internet use,

 

·         Excessive internet use,  

 

·         Inappropriate internet use.

 

A person with internet addiction cannot prevent the desire of using it excessively and loses the importance of time. When he experiences deprivation, jim-jams and aggressiveness are examined.  Also, social and family life of the person distorted. The ratio of using internet is found to be more than girls in boys. It is seen intensively at ages 12-18 and addiction behavior is reinforced at these ages. Many studies proved that boys develop more addiction to internet than girls.

 

Young based on pathological gambling criteria for diagnosis of the internet addiction. He claimed that 5 out of 8 criterions should be met to be diagnosed with internet addiction. Defined criteria of Young are as follows:

 

1. Preoccupied with the internet (thinking about previous on-line activity or anticipate next on-line session)

 

2. Need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction

 

3. Unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use

 

4. Feeling restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use

 

5. Staying on-line longer than originally intended

 

6. Jeopardizing or risking the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet

 

7. Lying to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?

 

8. Using the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)

 

Don’t you need to go out for socializing?

 

Young people and university students are seem to have the highest risk on internet addiction. Seeking belongingness feeling, trying to show oneself more different, adopting to the world he created, and living in a dream are factors for internet addiction.

 

This group close themselves to their rooms, experience isolation from family life, refuses to have friends and integrate with the internet. Internet addiction has various types and they are divided to subclasses, according to the age groups.

 

Types of Internet Addiction

 

-          Cyber relationship (Facebook, Twitter, MSN etc.)

 

-          Identity confusion (anime and  avatars)

 

-          Online compulsions (online gambling, onlineshopping)

 

-          Cybersex addiction (sex chats and porn websites)

 

-          Overloading of information (unstoppable surfing or seeking information)

 

-          Computer addiction (Obsessive game playing)

 

The use of internet increases day by day and it causes various health problems. These psychological disturbances are being experienced especially in Japan for last 10 years. This psychological disorder was named as Hikikomori (Social Withdrawal) by psychologists in Japan. It was first defined by Norihiko Kitao in 1986 as a psychosocial disorder. However, social withdrawal had already seen in earlier years. In 1950s, this social withdrawal was common among high school students. It was defined as not going out, not going to school and rejection of social communication. In 1970s, psychologists and teachers accepted this withdrawal and made some studies about it. Psychologists who examined and tried to find a solution for this problem noticed that, it started with rejection of school. Also, it was thought to have a relationship with depression and identity confusion.

 

In 1980s, social withdrawal was very common and had negative effects on social life and economy.

 

The academic definition of Hikikomori was difficult and Psychiatrist Tamaki Saito defined it as, being asocial, and refusing to go out including for education, and not having social relationships for at least 6 months. It begins as acute withdrawal and becomes chronic among young people. Psychologically, Hikikikomori is a cognitive functional disorder. It is characterized as a psychosocial disease. Hikikomori is seen as a disease created by technology. It is defined as developing communication addiction in virtual world and closing oneself to the social world.  Social mismatch, unsuccessfulness and fear of not being approved are seen as a result of it. Hikikomori widely seen in boys around 15 years old. The person postpones all responsibilities in this disease and satisfies his basic needs in front of computer. This kind of living brings unhappiness, depression and pessimism with itself. Parents think that the child is safer at home and support them. However, as the time goes by, the child looks like he is studying but instead he spends his time on the internet. With internet addiction, the child experiences social withdrawal. 

 

Small technological devices, smaller “real” social lives…

 

Technology develops and technological devices get smaller. However, our real lives get smaller with them. Internet has many good sides, but abusing it to get away from things causes internet addiction. We can notice this truth by looking ourselves on the mirror. But, why are we doing this? Studies explain the reasons of internet addiction as follows;

 

-          There is no time limit on the internet,

 

-          People can use the internet anytime and anywhere they want,

 

-          People have chances to introduce themselves as the way they want,

 

-          They can express themselves in a more free way without having any thoughts about being criticized,

 

-          Being able to connect all of the people in the world,

 

-          Spending minimum time and money to communicate with other people,

 

-           Accessing games and fun activities in a more economical way,

 

-          Being able to stop communicating whenever they want,

 

-          Being able to express themselves equal with other users without any social status, race, and gender differences,

 

-          Being in a social environment without having difficulties,

 

-          Having closeness with other people,

 

-          Finding many alternatives to get away from daily stress.

 

 

 When characteristic features of internet addicts examined,  it was found that they are very sensitive about disappoinments, and communicating with strangers increase their anxiety level.

 

Also, many studies showed that many of internet addicts use the internet for virtual friendship and chat. Nonaddicts generally use the internet to collect information and to socialize.

 

 

All these bring people a different world, life and status. But, people steal from their real lives to make their fake lives continue. When we evaluate the consequences of these causes;

 

-          Instinctive and impulsive motives are suppressed and it becomes unhealthy to regulate or control them,

 

-          All these behaviors are ruled by instincts and impulsions,

 

-          People fail to have real, permanent and consistent relationships with others,

 

-          Avoiding from understanding, living and knowing the truth,

 

-          Looking for unrealistic worlds to get away from real life problems,

 

-          Not striving to adopt to family, home, environment and work,

 

-          Distortion of relationship and communication among people,

 

-          Not being able to use positive defense mechanisms to get rid of anxiety.

 

The effects and consequences of internet addiction are not limited with them. This addiction has more negative consequences. Psychological and physical disorders, disconnection with the family, academic problems, difficulty in adopting society, posture disorders, economical problems, unemployment, and sleep disorders can be seen as negative consequences of internet addiction.

 

Especially, inappropriate behaviors in internet addict adolescents and young people bother families. These behaviors are; social withdrawal, unwillingness of going out, talking with friends via internet, lying about what they did, outbursts, and academic problems.

 

Treatment Schemas for Internet Addiction

 

Psychotherapy is one of the treatment methods used for internet or social media addiction. Cognitive and behavioral methods are widely used in psychotherapy. Studies showed that negative cognitions play an important role on internet addiction. If there is another disease that causes internet addiction, the treatment of it provided. Since internet addiction is found mostly among children and adolescents, the treatment should be applied in the most effective and fastest way. Because the child’s social and academic life is affected.  Cooperation with the family is essential; information about internet addiction should be given both for children and their parents. Antidepressants are useful for the treatment; however, psychotherapy is a more effective and faster way for it. External barriers should be created to organize and take the time the child spends on the internet under control. For example, if the child sits in front of the computer as soon as he comes home, then a course after school may be useful to make him come home late.

 

Internet addiction develops as a behavior pattern while we try to recover the unsuccessful way we have. Using the internet excessively is seen as a rewarding behavior and it can be seen as an insufficient strategy to deal with fear, disappointment and restlessness. Therefore, cognitive behavioral therapies have very important role on the treatment of internet addiction. Davis suggested an 11 week protocol in cognitive-behavioral therapy.

 

This protocol includes;

 

·         Determination whether the individual could stay away from internet,

 

·         Changing the place of computer and putting it in a more public place,

 

·         Connecting to the internet with other people,

 

·         Changing the time of connecting the internet,

 

·         Ending the use of persona,

 

·         Not hiding the problem of the person from his friends,

 

·         Attending to the sportive activities,

 

·         Having breaks for internet,

 

·         Working on automatic thinking,

 

·         Relaxing exercises,

 

·         Noting the feelings while connecting to internet,

 

·         Gaining of new social abilities.

 

Young claimed that instead of prohibiting the internet, taking it under control with cognitive behavioral treatment is more effective. Cognitive-behavioral techniques for internet addiction are as follows:

 

·         Moving the time of internet use to the opposite,

·         Using external stoppers,

·         Defining a goal for internet use, 

·         Trying to avoid from a certain function,

·         Using post-its

·         Using a notebook for notes instead of internet,

·         Going into a support group,

·         Family therapy

 

We have seen a more creative, information seeking generation in old times. When we look at the children and young people now, we see the many few of these features. New generation has more opportunities and these opportunities blunt their feeling s of creativity in a serious way.  We forget that they should glare with these opportunities. You may have loved ones, children and partners in this situation. These people should gain awareness and learn the risks of these negative effects and find a solution for it. Getting help for addiction from a specialist will pull you out of this problem.

 

INTERNET ADDICTION TEST

 

1. How often do you find that you stay on-line longer than you intended?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

2. How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time on-line?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

3. How often do you prefer the excitement of the Internet to intimacy with your partner?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

4. How often do you form new relationships with fellow on-line users?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

5. How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend on-line?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

6. How often do your grades or school works suffer because of the amount of time you spend on-line?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

7. How often do you check your e-mail before something else that you need to do?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

8. How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of the Internet?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

9. How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do on-line?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

10. How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of the Internet?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

11. How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go on-line again?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

12. How often do you fear that life without the Internet would be boring, empty, and joyless?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

13. How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are on-line?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

14. How often do you lose sleep due to late-night log-ins?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

15. How often do you feel preoccupied with the Internet when off-line, or fantasize about being on-line?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

16. How often do you find yourself saying “just a few more minutes” when on-line?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

17. How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend on-line and fail?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

18. How often do you try to hide how long you’ve been on-line?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

19. How often do you choose to spend more time on-line over going out with others?

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

20. How often do you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are off-line, which goes away once you are back on-line?

 

o   Rarely

o   Occasionally

o   Frequently

o   Often

o   Always

 

20 - 49 points: You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage.

 

50 -79 points: You are experiencing occasional or frequent problems because of the Internet. You should consider their full impact on your life.

 

80 - 100 points: Your Internet usage is causing significant problems in your life. You should evaluate the impact of the Internet on your life and address the problems directly caused by your Internet usage.

 

 

(Published in Yeni Asır newspaper on 31.03.2013 )

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