The Internet is our constant companion. We use it for communication, work, entertainment, like playing at TonyBet or watching Netflix, and to get any information in a couple of seconds. Let’s find out if those who call today’s generation “internet addicts” are right and how to check yourself for addiction.
How Addiction Works
Addiction is formed imperceptibly. The scheme of its formation is simple: first a person consumes something, and then when a positive reaction is received, dopamine comes into play. After that, the person returns to the memory of the pleasant experience and wants to experience the same sensations or emotions again. He returns to the tried-and-true form of pleasure. Gradually he wants to shorten the interval between dopamine releases, he begins to repeat actions more and more often, and then he ceases to control himself and the habit turns into addiction.
As a result, a previously healthy person develops peculiarities of perception of both himself and his addiction. First, the source of the addiction becomes an important or most important value. The dopamine derived from some action becomes the center of life. Secondly, the person considers himself incapable of resisting his desire and is lost when it’s suggested to limit, for example, the amount of alcohol he drinks. He doesn’t believe that he is capable of such a decisive step and follows learned patterns.
For some people, the internet becomes a means of escapism, allowing them to escape from reality and problems. Immersion in a virtual world can temporarily alleviate negative emotions: anxiety, loneliness, or stress. People may use the internet as a way to regulate their emotional state, which increases attachment to online activities such as gaming.
Is Internet Addiction Diagnosed?
Internet addiction is not included in the official list of diagnostic criteria of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is authoritative in the psychiatric community.
The controversy surrounding the diagnosis stems from the ambiguity of whether the disorder is a separate clinical entity or a manifestation of other disorders. While not a drug, it similarly “hacks” the brain’s reward system, causing the release of endorphins.
How to Detect Addiction
Communication in an addicted person is completely transferred to the Internet. There may be exceptions to this point – many people today work online, without being tied to an office space. Such people need to always be in touch with the team, which is only possible through the online space. However, after working hours, it’s necessary to put aside the phone, close the laptop, and return to the ordinary world. If a person doesn’t do this, it’s a wake-up call: communication with others and at least a couple of interlocutors in a face-to-face format are necessary to maintain contact with reality.
If it’s impossible to enter a social network, a person immediately becomes anxious, angry and feels disconnected from the world. This can also be a sign of FOMO, the lost opportunity syndrome. It’s accompanied by obsessive thoughts that the person is missing something important right now – news, an incoming message, a promotion, whatever.
When a person with an addiction spends time with others, such as sitting with friends in a cafe, from the outside it seems as if the most important thing for him or her is a gadget with free access to the Internet.
By going online for a few minutes “just to refresh the feed”, the person does not notice how several hours fly by. This is especially noticeable in the hours spent in tiktok and Instagram feed – you can relax in the evening, but if the whole day flies by, it’s a reason to think about your mechanical habits.
What to Do
If you’re bothered by the habit of constantly checking the news, email, messengers and social media, try the following:
- Don’t pick up your phone before bed and don’t go online immediately upon waking up.
- Limit the amount of time you spend online and on social media. For example, no more than two hours a day.
- Replace the internet and social media with a healthy habit.
- Spend time reading a book or watching a movie you’ve wanted to watch for a long time.
A large number of notifications on your phone screen make you go online again and again. To minimize the addiction, you will need to change some of your habits. Uninstall unnecessary apps so that there are fewer temptations, as well as groups you don’t join and people you never socialize with. This will reduce the amount of time you spend on the Internet.
However, if you realize that your efforts are not enough and you don’t know what to do next, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.