Dealing With Computer And Internet Addiction

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Does your wife, girlfriend, parent, or sibling ever tell you that you are spending too much time on the computer? That you are neglecting your responsibilities? That you are becoming more irritable and unsociable? Have you ever stayed up until 3a.m. surfing the Web? Downloading music, backgrounds or porn? Well, if you've answered "yes" to at least one of these questions, then you might discover that you are, indeed, addicted to your screen and cyberspace.

Computer/internet addiction was never an issue in the 1980s. That's because the Internet was not yet popular with the general public. Big companies and defense organizations were the first ones to ever start implementing the technology into their systems in the early '80s, and then a huge market was discovered for this technology to get big very big.

In the early '90s, psychiatrists and clinicians were beginning to hear of a new medical term, "internet addiction." At first, this was met with a lot of skepticism and denial, however, it became evident that the more people logged on to cyberspace, the more they got hooked.

 

The 10 Symptoms You Need To Watch Out For

According to Dr. James Fearing of the National Counselling Centre in Minneapolis, these are the basic 10 symptoms individuals need to look out for:

 

1. No Limitations

A demonstrated "loss of control" when trying to stop or limit the amount of time on the computer. (Breaking promises to self or others. Promising to quit or cut down and not being able to do so.)

 

2. Lying

Being dishonest or minimizing the extent of the time you stay on the computer, or covering up or being dishonest about what activities you participate in when on the computer.

 

3. Harmful Results

Negative consequences experienced by the computer user or his/her friends or family as a direct result of time or activities spent on the computer.

4. Improper Behavior

Participation in high risk or normally unacceptable behaviors when using the computer. Compromising your morals and values based on the opportunity to remain anonymous and protected on the computer (a good test for this is to ask yourself if your spouse, partner or family would approve of what you were doing on the computer).

 

5. Misplaced Priorities

An overdeveloped sense of importance for the computer in one's life. Defending your right to use the computer as much as desired, regardless of the fact that people in your life are feeling left out and neglected (denial of the problem and justification; not being able to hear or feel what the other people are saying regarding your computer behavior).

 

 6. Rapture

Mixed feelings of euphoria (a "rush"), combined with feelings of guilt brought on by either the inordinate amount of time spent on the computer or the abnormal behavior acted out while using the computer.

 

7. Despair

A feeling of depression or anxiety when something or someone shortens your time or interrupts your plans to use the computer.

 

8. Fixation

Preoccupation with the computer and related activities when you are not using the computer (thinking about the computer and its activities when doing something else; i.e. having a family dinner, working on a project, etc.).

 

9. Escapism

Finding yourself using the computer at times when you are feeling uncomfortable, irritated or sad about something happening in your life. (i.e. If you are feeling uncomfortable in your relationship, you will self-medicate and "hide out" on the computer.) Using time on the computer to become externally focused outside yourself as a way to evade what's happening in your life, and avoid feeling the appropriate emotions inside yourself. (Self-medicating.)

 

10. Excessive Spending

Experiencing financial concerns or problems in your life as a result of money being spent on computer hardware, computer online charges, or any other costs associated with computers. (Spending money on computer related items that should have been allocated to other normal living expenses.)

If you recognize at least one of these symptoms, you may have a problem with computer addiction. If you recognize more than two, you are demonstrating a pattern of behavior that would suggest that you are addicted to your computer and/or the activities on it.

 

Consequences of addiction

Physical risk factors involved with an addiction to the Internet are comparatively minimal yet notable. While time is not a direct function in defining internet addiction, generally, addicted users are likely to use the Internet anywhere from forty to eighty hours per week (it becomes like a full-time job), with single sessions that could last up to twenty hours.

To accommodate such excessive use, sleep patterns are typically disrupted due to late night log-ins. The patient typically stays up past normal bedtime hours and may report staying online until 2, 3, or 4a.m., with the reality of having to wake up for work or school at 6a.m.

In extreme cases, caffeine pills are used to facilitate longer Internet sessions. Such sleep depravation causes excessive fatigue, often making academic or occupational functioning impaired, and may decrease one's immune system, leaving the patient vulnerable to disease.

Additionally, the sedentary act of prolonged computer use may result in a lack of proper exercise and lead to an increased risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, back strain, or eyestrain. While the physical side effects of utilizing the Internet are mild compared to chemical dependency, addictive use of the Internet will result in similar familial, academic, and occupational impairment.

 

Family problems

Marriages, dating relationships, parent-child relationships, and close friendships have been noted to be seriously disrupted by "net binges." Patients will gradually spend less time with people in their lives in exchange for solitary time in front of a computer.

Marriages appear to be the most affected as Internet use interferes with responsibilities and obligations at home, and it is typically the spouse who takes on these neglected chores and often feels like a "Cyberwidow."

Addicted online users tend to use the Internet as an excuse to avoid needed but reluctantly performed daily chores such as doing the laundry, cutting the lawn, or going grocery shopping. Those mundane tasks are ignored as well as important activities such as caring for children. For example, one mother forgot such things as picking up her children after school, making them dinner, and putting them to bed because she became so absorbed in her Internet use.

Similar to alcoholics who will try to hide their addiction, Internet addicts engage in the same lying about how long their Internet sessions really last or hiding bills related to fees for Internet service. These same characteristics create distrust and will hurt the quality of once stable relationships over time.

 

Academic problems

Although the merits of the Internet make it an ideal research tool, students surf irrelevant Web sites, engage in chat room gossip, converse with Internet pen pals, and play interactive games at the cost of productive activity.

Alfred University's Provost W. Richard Ott investigated why normally successful students with 1200 to 1300 SAT scores had recently been dismissed. To his surprise, his investigation found that 43% of these students failed school due to extensive patterns of late night log-ons to the university computer system.

 

Occupational problems

Internet misuse by employees is a serious concern among managers. The benefits of the Internet such as assisting employees with anything from market research to business communication outweigh the negatives for any company, yet there is a definite concern that it is a distraction to many employees. Any misuse of time in the workplace creates a problem for managers, especially as corporations are providing employees with a tool that can easily be misused.

So now you know you're one of "those" people; well then, what can you do to stop it?

 

How to overcome the addiction

 

Practice The Opposite

For example, let's say that your Internet habit involves checking your e-mail first thing in the morning. Instead, you should take a shower or start breakfast first instead of logging on. Or, perhaps you only use the Internet at night, and have an established pattern of coming home and sitting in front of the computer for the remainder of the evening. Then I suggest you wait until after dinner and the news before logging on. Got it?

 

Set Goals

In order to avoid Internet usage, you should program structured sessions by setting reasonable goals, perhaps 20 hours instead of the current 40 on the Net.

 

Develop Your Inventory

Start asking yourself, "What am I missing out on when I spend so much time on the Net?" Then, write these activities down. You'll be surprised to find out that the list is endless.

 

Join A Support Group

By talking with others who are in the same boat as you, you will (first) make new, real friends, and then you will begin to realize that you are not alone in your fight to overcome this addiction. Support is very important.

 

Family Support

Seek the support of family members, since they know you better than most people.


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The Have I Got A Problem website is a free online resource to help people better understand any issues or concerns they may have about mental health or addiction. The website includes resources specifically focused to; general Mental Health, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Insecurities, Self-harm Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Anger Management, Eating Disorders, Coping, general Addiction, Alcohol, Smoking, Gambling, Drugs, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana (Cannabis) Ecstasy, PCP, Mephedrone, Ketamine & Crystal Meth.

The site was created to give the public information to help them understand mental health and addiction issues and to assist people in making better informed decisions about their life and personal choices.

www.haveigotaproblem.com was created and is run by 'Advising Communities’, which is a UK registered charity (Charity No. 1061055)

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