Internet Addiction – An Epidemic

Internet Addiction – An Epidemic 

We are living in the age of technology. We carry a TV, computer, phone, fax machine, camera, GPS, books, radio, remote control all in one in our handy smart phones. We no longer need to ask Grandma for a recipe or how you can tell if the pasta is done just perfectly, we have the internet for that. We no longer have to call dad about how to fix a leaky faucet. Why bother him when we can do a quick YouTube search. We no longer have to pick up the phone to talk to mom about our day, we prefer the convenience of texting.

We live in a society where we feel like if we aren’t busy doing something, it means we are idle and something is wrong. Sitting with our thoughts while we wait in line feels like a thing of the past. We have to stay busy, even if it’s something mindless like browsing Facebook because sitting with ourselves feels…weird.

These days, most phones have trackers to let you know how much time you’ve spent online. According to the data of 11,000 RescueTime, users shows that the top 20% of smartphone users spend more than 4.5 hours on their phones during weekdays. Most people check their phones a whopping 58 times per day. Thirty of those times are during work hours.

A Study by eMarketer has found that owing to the pandemic, electronic device usage nearly doubled among kids in the US.

Internet use can have the same effects on the brain as heroin and cocaine.

According to this Harvard University study, our smart phones target the pleasure center and causes an influx of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin – the feel-good chemicals. Of course, we all want to feel good, who wants to feel anxious? But at what point does a hobby we use to pass the time become an addiction? The harm is that you’re getting a rush of the happy neurotransmitters at such a high dose that your nervous system slows down it’s own natural production. Day after day of this, you burn your synapses from the overload of chemicals. In the long run, this means you stop naturally producing the good chemicals because you became dependent on the substance –  the internet. 


What is internet addiction? Am I addicted to the internet?

Social Media Addiction

You have developed an online persona, a different version of yourself. And before you know it, even you believe the façade. When you’re addicted to social media, you’d rather take selfies for your next post than to enjoy the company you’re with. Whenever you see the number of followers go up, you feel validated and notice your confidence go up. The compliments and comments on your post give you the dopamine rush that gets you hooked. Slowly you start to think of ways to be who your followers want you to be and move further and further away from who you are. Does this get in the way of  other areas of your life? Does it feel like you’re are being your authentic self? If for you, it isn’t so much about the followers but rather for entertainment, you might spend hours a day doom scrolling through social media. They’ve created a unique algorithm tapping into your unconscious mind, knowing what to show on your feed and when. You might enjoy doom scrolling through social media so much to where you feel disconnected from your life, not realizing the time that has passed. You continue to put off those things you were supposed to get done.  There’s got to be more to life. Do know you know when to put the phone down?

Email Addiction

You might sit at the dinner table with your partner or children and keep your phone on hand because they need you at work.  The boundaries between who you are at work and at home feel like one in the same. You engage your phone instead of your family. Your device replaces the relationships you have in front of you and your partner begins to feel lonely, your children ignored.  I know work is important, you have a family to support. But what are you really avoiding? As Nationally Certified Internet Addiction Coach, I can help you figure it out and how to improve your boundaries with email. 

Gaming Addiction

With Gaming Addiction, you might have a hard time pulling yourself away from the game, the rush you get from winning is too good and sometimes you can’t stop thinking about the game. It can get in the way of other areas of your life where you might neglect school, work, relationships, your healthy and hygiene.Gaming addiction is one of the hardest to break because of the constant rush that comes from competition and triggering your fight/flight brain and then the reward that follows. This is the formula for addiction and the game developers know it. You would rather catch up with your buddies on the video game than to build deeper relationships. Your gaming friends might know about you than your friends and family.  The boundaries between your virtual life and real life become blurred.

Online Shopping Addiction

You might start to notice that your internet use affects your daily life. You might hide the new expensive pair of shoes you bought from your partner because you’ve talked about the finances before, but you couldn’t pass it up.Look, I get it. Who doesn’t want to browse the cheap products on Amazon Prime Day? I mean, my sister-in-law’s Birthday is coming up, ‘I should take a peak just in case I see something she’d like. Ooh I see some things my partner would like too, he needs a new pair of running shoes.’ How many of you can relate to this and before you know it, your cart is filled with a bunch of crap you don’t need and will probably return anyway?  Oh and free delivery by tomorrow and free returns –Yes! Count me in. You press the yellow order button and feel the excitement.  The next day, you get another rush as you see all of those packages by your front door and can’t wait to see what’s inside. It feels like Christmas.  The big blue van coming down the street to your house has become your dealer – ready to deliver, discreet, quick, no one has to know.  You’re hooked. Let’s get serious.  It is too easy to lose yourself in online shopping. It’s hard to pass up deals and you don’t even have to get dressed and drive to the store anymore. You might askThey can deliver it right to you within hours. Let me tell you a little secret – they know they’re getting you hooked. It was designed that way. 

Internet Addiction comes in many forms and is more prevalent the easier technology makes our lives. We are learning to fill voids in our lives with a drug that we keep on us at all times – our devices. But how long can we really keep up the façade before we are forced to face our feelings of anxiety and loneliness that the internet just won’t fill.  Want to learn how to tune-in? As a Certified Internet Addiction Coach offering online coaching across the US, I can support your journey to break unhealthy habits. Want to connect?  Let’s chat!

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC

© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA, All Rights Reserved.

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