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Are you Gluing Your Brain to the Web Too?

Internet, internet, and internet everywhere with everyone for every reason. It does sound crazy, right? But this is the reality. From toddlers, working employees, to older citizens, when everyone is busy tapping their fingers on the devices. Their eyes popped out and knocking their brains to stay awake and focus on the net content. Well, this seems to be a never-ending busyness, especially in the present technologically developing world.

When asked in a survey to the middle-aged population in the United States about why they spend more time on the internet, people seemed to have endless reasons. They had countless reasons for the internet that makes their life easier. If the internet sounded useful for showing young children cartoons or connecting with friends and gaming for the youth, then the parents and others required it much for work and entertainment.

With the current challenges encountered in the world, there is no doubt we are forced in one way or the other to depend on the internet. But the hidden problem is that all the entertainment and work require us to be slaves to the internet and use it extensively. Beyond being slaves, the internet has turned us all out into be addicts who crave for internet every moment of our lives. The sad part is that the developing internet addiction is largely for the wrong reasons.

What’s worse is that internet addiction is disturbing the balance of mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Studies have taken a closer look to discover multiple reasons for the development of internet addiction, some of which are unexplained. These include heavy dependence on alcohol or drugs, alteration in brain wiring (grey and white matter), and increased dopamine release (pleasure chemical). It is to achieve rewards, biological predispositions, feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, etc.

The beginning of internet addiction is quite noticeable with the beginning of unusual behaviours such as

  1. being continuously preoccupied with the internet materials,

  2. spends excessive time using the internet to achieve satisfaction,

  3. cannot cut back, stop or control the use of the internet,

  4. stays online beyond the originally intended time limit,

  5. feels moody, restless, irritated or depressed when attempting to use the internet in a controlled manner,

  6. has jeopardized the loss of significant career or educational opportunity, or meaningful relationships due to excessive internet use and,

  7. uses internet as an escape tool from experiencing dysphoric moods such as depression, guilt, anxiety or helplessness feelings.

Further, studies have identified that these symptoms lead to the development of five types of internet addiction: cybersex addiction, cyber relationship addiction, gaming/computer addiction, net compulsions and compulsive information seeking.

When wondering the negative effects internet addiction disorders can cause us to bear, researchers reveal the harm caused to an individual’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being. The so-far noticed physical problems include insomnia, headaches, weight gain or loss, body and backaches. It also causes vision problems (eye dryness), poor personal hygiene, poor nutritional diets, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (feelings of numbness, weakness, and tingling in the arms resulting from pressure on the hands).

The emotional effects due to internet addiction could include feelings of euphoria (when playing or watching), social isolation, acting defensive. Some of them also include strong mood swings, procrastination, depression, fear, irritation, loneliness, sadness, aggression, dishonesty, absent sense of time, push off priorities and so on.

These effects vary significantly from one individual to another based on type, intensity, and period (short-term and/or long-term).

Battling Internet Addiction

Although internet addiction disorder can disturb the cycle of work/school life and peaceful personal relationships, research has found that internet addiction can be healthily dealt with. If the worry of internet addiction wraps around you, here are the following tips to help yourself:

  • Recognition of the existing addiction: When you hide behind the screen with no limits sets, you are unlikely to see the roots of addiction growing in you. So, if you feel you are using the internet uncontrollably, recognize and accept the addiction in you and seek treatment.

  • Set timers on the devices used: One of the best ways to assure yourself healthy internet use is by accessing the built-in setting of your devices. This allows you to set a time limit for the frequently used apps and alarms you if you have crossed the time set.

  • Mingle with your social community: Quit spending much of your time on the internet just because you feel lonely or sad. Instead, choose this time to connect with your social networks or engage in some activity that will make you feel better and belonged.

  • Practice meditation: Avoid any chance for your brain wires to tire out by staying online at a long stretch. By engaging in mindful meditation practices, you allow to brain to regain your mental space and feel refreshed.

Despite practising these tips, consider seeking professional guidance if one feels they cannot tackle internet addiction. Depending on the type and intensity of internet addiction experienced by individuals, professionals may suggest several options: Therapies include individual or group therapy, equine therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), art therapy, behaviour modification, dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), recreation therapy, equine therapy and so on.

These psychological treatments have popped up over the years. They are mainly dedicated to recognizing the problem, accepting it, and setting realistic healthy goals to overcome internet addiction. Additionally, Medications that include anti-depressants and anti-anxiety have been found to calm the fueling internet addiction in one.

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