Internet addiction is a real thing, and you might not even know you have a problem. According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, internet addiction is an impulse control disorder. Those who are addicted to time spent online develop emotional attachments to the activities they engage in and people they interact with. Here is how an addiction to the internet affects people emotionally, how to tell if you are addicted to the internet and how to cope.
How an addiction to the internet can hurt you emotionally
Like an addiction to drugs or alcohol, an addiction to the internet, if not dealt with, can lead to serious emotional consequences.
● You may experience feelings of guilt, anxiety and/or depression.
● You might begin to lose all sense of time as you spend longer than you originally intended surfing the web.
● You may begin to feel isolated from friends and family and might experience intense feelings of loneliness as a result.
Signs you might be addicted to the internet
If you think you might be addicted to the internet, here are a few common symptoms you may be able to resonate with directly.
● For you, using the internet serves as an escape. You use it to get away from your problems or to distract you when you are in a bad mood.
● Your internet usage negatively affects your relationships or negatively impacts your school or job performance.
● You feel sad, upset or irritable when you decrease the amount of time you spend online or stop going online altogether.
● The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is go online.
How to overcome an addiction to the internet
You do not have to give up your internet access completely in order to combat an online addiction. In fact, doing so nowadays is almost impossible with how much we use the internet for work. However, there are some things you can do on your own, with the help of a friend or family member, to start cutting back.
Make it a point to get those other things done before you use the internet for recreational purposes.Click to tweet
Change your routine.
We have all murmured to ourselves, “I’ll just check this one site and then I’ll get up and do something else,” without ever actually getting up to do something else. Make it a point to get those other things done before you use the internet for recreational purposes. For example, instead of checking the internet first thing when you wake up, get a workout in or make breakfast first.
Freedom is an app for both your computer and mobile devices that lets you block certain websites for certain periods of time. So if you have a habit of staying up too late on the internet, you can tell Freedom to essentially “turn off” your internet access starting at midnight, for example, and ask it to turn back on at eight or nine the next morning.
Give up your passwords.
Change your passwords to social media sites or even your wifi password, write them down on a piece of paper and give it to someone you trust. Ask them not to give you access to certain sites until you have finished other responsibilities. If you think your addiction is serious enough that you need to seek out professional help, do not be nervous or embarrassed. A therapist and/or support group can help you work through your problem without pushing or judging you. They can give you suggestions on ways to cope when cutting back on time spent online becomes difficult, and can help you find healthier and more fulfilling activities to fill your time with instead. Think you’re not addicted? Take our test and find out.