A few questions before we move to the heart of the matter:
Do you spend more than 10-12 hours on the Internet for personal recreation?
Do you check your phone every 5-10 seconds?
Do you reveal every detail of your daily life on your many social media platforms?
Is your Internet-based hobby or recreation interfering your productivity in that you neglect your job, family, and friends (plus they’re concerned about your Internet habits, too)?
Do you interact, make friends, or even look for/find love on social media and websites?
If you said yes to all or 4 out of these 5 questions, you’re probably addicted to being wired all the time.
You may probably wonder whether one can be addicted to the Internet. Like other activities that stimulate the “neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain, which releases the neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain’s pleasure centers,” engaging in cyberspace-based activities that you find stimulating and enjoyable can hook you into a compulsion loop, where one spirals into compulsive behavior that shows in the repeated checks one makes into social media accounts or other Internet-based recreational option. You can’t seem to resist checking on your virtual pet online or the need to play a certain game on the Internet.
That being said, it is possible to be “addicted” to the Internet. And this obsession with the cybersphere is not exactly new.
It’s said that obsessive-compulsive behavior related to the Internet and even PC games began to escalate in the 90s. As creators and service providers of these various applications improved their products, compulsive behavior also evolved into something that is now a cause for concern for parents, family, and friends of those affected by the Internet addiction bug.
Today, it’s not only computer games that is the springboard for the digital compulsion loop. Email, sports stats, and even stock performance lure adults to the digital realm in an increasingly frequent, and even debilitating, manner. There’s also the imagined alerts that smartphone users have to deal with – they think their device is ringing or buzzing even when it’s not and thus have to check it every few seconds or so.
While using applications or even finding them fun and enjoyable isn’t bad, such a situation becomes a cause for concern when it turns into a compulsive habit that gets in the way of a person’s normal daily functioning, including replacing real-life relationships and interactions with virtual ones.
Internet addiction has since been renamed to Internet Use Disorder (IUD), Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), Compulsive Internet Use (CIU), and Problematic Internet Use (PIU). Although it has not yet been included in the DSM manual, which is also known as the psychiatrists’ bible, studies involving the condition have been conducted and will continue to be studied in the effort to understand it better and identify effective ways to treat it. Researchers have noticed that the changes in the brains of those with IAD is similar to those who are hooked to heroine, cocaine, and other illegal and addictive substances.
Some researchers theorized cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can help treat Internet addiction. This is not such a surprise considering CBT is also a popular treatment option among substance abuse patients and compulsive gamblers. If you believe your Internet use is interfering with your work and relationships, you will do well to explore this option.