The internet has actually been in existence for nearly fifty years, although the World Wide Web as you and I know it is nearly thirty years old. The difference relates to when it became a public entity allowing connectivity across the globe.

There is no doubt that the internet has rapidly improved over this time; it is now an excepted and often vital part of everyone’s existence. The last ten years in particular has seen a massive growth in the number of companies operating online; it is now normal to connect with friends, shop and even work over the internet.

The Problem

The fact that the internet can be used instead of physical contact for almost every activity imaginable; is the crux of the issue. You can build huge followings of people on social media and feel the need, even pressure, to post constantly; thereby keeping your followers happy. Alternatively, you may simply love following a list of celebrities and spend all your time checking out what they are doing next. The moment you have to start turning down commitments in the physical world, simply to stay online, is the moment that you know you are addicted.

Internet addiction has become recognized as a disorder which can have a serious effect on your day to day life.

The Symptoms

If you or someone you know is displaying these symptoms then you are likely to be addicted to the internet:

  1. A constant awareness and need to be online. This is likely to check the next posting, add your own and even simply to dwell on the last one.
  2. The internet will start to take over your life, every spare moment you have will be spent on it and some moments which are not spare. The gradual increase of internet time may be noticed by yourself but you will feel unable to reduce it; despite your best efforts.
  3. Personal relationships will start to suffer as you connect with your online friends or simply spend hours researching a subject. In effect you can start to disappear from the physical world. It is likely that this will also involve lying to those you love in an effort to hide your addiction.
  4. If you do manage to reduce your internet usage you will probably feel lost, moody and depressed; feelings which can quickly drive you back into the internet’s welcoming arms.

The Effects

Internet addiction is a serious matter. Whilst it is an incredibly useful tool for looking up information and staying connected with those you love it is easy to spend too much time online. The effects can be profound and disturbing:

  • An inability to communicate face to face with people. This will gradually become worse; compounded by the lack of confidence you will find you have in unfamiliar situations. The internet feels safe, you have time to react and can be any persona you wish to be. The loss of social skills is a serious concern for individuals and communities.
  • Lack of care is also associated with internet addiction. Your world revolves round the internet; you will no longer be interested in your neighbor who is suffering or even in family members. Alongside this you will probably find it difficult to care about your own appearance; the internet does not need to see you!
  • Sleep can be affected as you will want to be online; especially if your followers or contacts are in different time zones. A lack of proper sleep has been associated with an increased liability to contract a range of life threatening diseases.
  • There are also links being established between internet addiction and mental health issues. Although the research is currently in its infancy; this is a real risk which needs to be considered.

The effects of internet addiction can be life changing. If you think you or a loved one has this issue it is important to get professional assistance. A qualified counselor is usually a good starting point.