If you’re an Internet user, you know who you are. They are among all of us in society, although many may choose to not acknowledge that they too, frequently use the Internet. As I sit here and look across the street, I see a man in front of his own computer; the screen glowing against the window behind him. He does not use his personal computer for work, he is a farmer. He has become what is known as an “Internet Junky”.
The addiction begins innocently. At the start, you are not even aware of the possibilities that may form from your excessive computer use. You begin to take an avid interest in e-mailing with your friends and family. Once the novelty of keeping in touch with your colleagues wears off, and researching starts to bore you, you may possibly expand your computer usage to chatting. Yes, chatting. It is something that is becoming more acceptable in our lives, but it is still looked down upon by many skeptics. Chatting through the Internet involves choosing an appropriate nickname for yourself (IE: Fisherman), and then finding a room where you feel compelled to spend time in. Once you’ve entered the room, other fellow chatters may say, “Hello…a/s/l (age/sex/location) please.”
And so begins the addiction. Once you become involved in meeting people online, it is difficult to break such a habit. You may even make a daily habit of it. People have been found to carry out exactly the same behavior, not only across the nation, but across the globe. In any one room, you may come across people from five different countries of the world. Granted, not everyone who stays online for hours on end, are enveloped in chatting, but it is more often then not, the cause for Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). (Goldberg, MD)
The prevalence of Internet Addiction Disorder has been increasing in number, hence a support group, among many, The Internet Addiction Support Group (IASG) has been developed. IAD, a “maladaptive” pattern for Internet use, is leading to impairment and/or distress caused by three (or more) of the following, at any time in a period of one year: “A) A need for markedly increased amounts of time on Internet to achieve satisfaction, B) Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of time on Internet.”, C) Reduction in Internet use which has been prolonged. (Goldberg, MD)
Symptoms of Internet Addiction Disorder include: “A) Psychomotor agitation, B) anxiety, C) obsessive thinking about what is happening on Internet, D) fantasies or dreams about Internet, E) voluntary or involuntary typing movements of the fingers.” These symptoms begin to cause conflict in “social, occupational, or another important area of functioning.” People who become addicted, use the Internet to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms, which are similar to those brought on by the halt of drug use. The disorder is recognized by the “persistent desire” or “unsuccessful efforts” to minimize the Internet use. (Goldberg, MD)
On June 14, 1998, ABC news reported that an “Internet crazed” Cincinnati woman was arrested for neglecting her three young children. The woman reportedly spent 12 hours straight online, while her hungry kids were locked away in a room so she could be online without interruption. (Associated Press)
The Internet is rapidly becoming an addictive source to a lot of its users. Use of the Internet include: students, housewives, and business professionals. Some of these users spend a minimum of thirty-eight hours per week on the “net”; hence, losing touch with reality and reeking havoc on their studies, family lives, and even their careers. Based on level of addiction, there are three groups of Internet addicts: A) the “I’m-not-addicted-users”, B) the “I-only-use-it-when-I-have-to-users”, and C) the “Internet Junkies.” (netaddiction.com)
The “I’m not addicted users” are those who try to convince themselves that they are not addicted to the Internet. This group includes college students who don’t go online during the day to prove to fellow classmates that they can do without getting online; only, to stay up all night in a chat room. College students are not the only people who fit in this category though. In general, these users are addicts but portray themselves otherwise in the presence of people. The “I only use it when I have to users”, are those who make convenient excuses to go online. And finally, the “Internet Junkies” are unlike the addicts in the previous two groups, these users neither sneak online nor make excuses to get online. They put their lives on hold while engrossed with their computer usage. (netaddiction.com)
People who seem addicted to the Internet often show signs of psychiatric disorders such as, manic-depression. Psychiatrist Nathan Shapira of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, studied 14 people who had spent so much time online, that they were facing problems at home, job loss, and flunking out of school. Nine of the 14 people studied, were found to have manic-depression at the time of the interview; half of the users had anxiety disorder such as “social phobia”; three suffered from eating disorders; four had uncontrollable burst of anger; and eight had abused alcohol or drugs at some time in their life. (Associated Press)
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People with no prior sign of psychiatric trouble have gotten hooked on the Internet too. Yes, it is avoidable, but still many people fall into the addictive track, just as if it were smoking, drinking, or any other habitual behavior. The addiction can attack anyone, of any age. Today’s youth live with the Internet as a daily part of their lives. Chatting after school and on the weekends is listed among the usual activities like sporting events and shopping. Help is available, but don’t get yourself tangled into the addiction. It’s hard to break once you’ve got yourself wound into the habit. Good luck fellow Internet users.