There is so much to do online, it is easy to spend hours moving from site to site – writing, playing, shopping, gambling – almost anything you can do in real life, you can do on the Internet today.
That’s nice when there is a snowstorm outside or you want to save gas and shop online or pay a bill. But if you are starting to find that your virtual life is taking over and you are spending many hours each day online, you may have an Internet addiction.
From people who check their email every few seconds to teens who are wired almost 24 hours per day, the Internet is playing a more central role in our lives. And if you are not careful, it can become an unhealthy obsession.
Experts note that children growing up online suffer from a lack of social skills, problem solving skills, they are overweight, have shorter attention span and in general, are not leading a healthy lifestyle while they sit for hours in front of a computer screen. Therapists, clinics, books, and self help groups are already sprouting up offering to cure Internet addiction.
Why can’t they just stop?
Internet addiction is a hard habit to recognize in yourself. It’s not a drug – where you can say any use is outright bad. It’s not gambling, where you can tell by the looks of your bank account if you have a problem. We all use the Internet and there is nothing wrong with that. We shop, look up train schedules, pay bills, connect with friends and relatives, read the news, etc. But for some people, the Internet gradually takes more and more time from their daily lives, until one day, they find themselves practically living online. They may have a need to be constantly updated with news online, they may feel a need to be connected to friends 24 hours/day or maybe the Web simply takes the place of everything else that used to be in their life.
Why is compulsive surfing dangerous?
Problem Internet use is characterized by a difficulty to limit time spent online. Some of the more commonly recognized Internet problems are online gambling, porn addiction and online shopping. eBay addiction is a recognized addiction as more and more people find themselves hooked. Pathological Internet use can be defined as persistent and recurrent maladaptive behavior meeting the following criteria:
1. Obsessing. You have frequent thoughts about the Internet – past experiences, future experiences and fantasies about being online.
2. Tolerance. You need to be online more frequently.
3. Withdrawal. Your mood is effected by attempts to stop or reduce Internet use.
4. Escape. Surf to improve mood or escape problems.
5. Staying online longer than intended..
6. Lying. Lies to hide his or her Internet use.
7. Loss of control. Unsuccessful attempts to reduce Internet use..
8. Spending time online despite risking or losing a relationship, job, or other significant opportunity.
Can You Prevent or Curb Internet Addiction?
Open communication is the best way to approach a loved one with a suspected problem. You can do a lot to help them. First of all, their Internet access needs to be managed by someone they trust. This does not have to mean getting rid of the family computer or canceling the Internet connection.
If your loved one admits to a problem and wants your help to overcome the problem, you can agree together to start by limiting the open access they have to the Web. Simply by installing an effective web filter, you can easily set up the precise Internet environment that you need -block out certain sites or categories of content, control the activities that can be done online and set a precise online schedule to limit when and how much time the Internet can be accessed. A web filter is a software solution, that you install and manage on your computer. It can be a fast and easy way to curb a problem that is just beginning or helping a serious compulsive addict limit his Internet activity.