Ask any qualified addiction counsellor in Canterbury and they’ll tell you the same – Internet addiction is a real and growing problem. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most difficult addictions to both are identified and addressed, given the way in which the world as a whole has become so intrinsically glued to the web.
Taking the United Kingdom as a prime example, the overwhelming majority of adults and children alike these days are connected 24/7 by an ever-expanding range of devices. To such an extent in fact that it has become normal not to go waking minute without a connective device within reach, spending any number of hours each day glued to a tiny touchscreen.
The important thing to remember though is that there’s a big difference between heavy Internet use and outright Internet addiction. The difference being that while the former of the two is not necessarily harmful and remains under the control of the individual in question, the latter is quite to the contrary. Indeed, Internet addiction can be extremely harmful and refers to instances where the individual in question has completely lost control over their actions and behaviours.
So with this in mind, what follows is a basic overview of some of the most common signs and symptoms of Internet addiction:
Time Spent Alone
First up, it’s extremely common for those with developing or more advanced cases of Internet addiction to spend an increasing amount of time alone. It’s a very similar case with many other types of addiction, wherein those concerned begin hiding their activities and behaviours from others, having acknowledged to some extent that they have become problematic. The obvious problem being that when such activities are kept behind closed doors, it becomes difficult for them to be picked up on by others.
It’s a very similar story with defensiveness too, which often indicates that the individual has lost control. If they are still entirely in control of their Internet usage and have no concerns to speak of, they should be able to openly and confidently go about their business while laughing-off any suggestion of addiction. At the opposite end of the scale, those who aggressively defend their activities or become offended at their very mention may be developing addictive habits.
As already touched upon, those who attempt to hide their activities from others having acknowledged they may be considered detrimental could probably do with professional support. Denial usually goes hand in hand with hiding habits from others – those in question denying what they’ve clearly been doing to avoid either causing concern or facing embarrassment.
When an activity that is neither essential nor is any particular value starts being prioritized over more important things in life, it is usually safe to say that control has been lost. And where control has been lost, addiction takes over. In the case of Internet addiction, those concerned may become completely unreliable, make as many excuses is necessary to sidestep responsibilities and generally neglected areas of life that should be of importance to them. When this is the case, it is important that the subject be brought up at the earliest possible instance.
Anxiety or Stress
To a certain extent, it’s normal these days for anyone facing the prospect of a flat smartphone battery to be a little on the bewildered side. Nevertheless, it’s something else entirely when an individual suffers more severe stress, anxiety or perhaps even panic attacks when they cannot access their devices or the internet. For those with more advanced Internet addiction, the prospect of being cut off for anything more than a few minutes may be too hideous to even contemplate.
Last up, one of the most and obvious signs of Internet addiction is when the individual in question is clearly a allowing their sleep to suffer a to a dangerous extent. Once again, it’s relatively normal these days to sometimes stay awake a little later than planned, having found it difficult to log off for the evening. However, it’s an entirely different story when you are constantly finding it so difficult to log off that you entirely lose control over your sleeping habits and patterns. When an individual is clearly allowing their sleep and their health to suffer as a result of Internet overuse, it could be that they have a genuine addiction to address.