Sitting in the metro, or alone in your room late at night, witnessing an entire party through the lens of your mobile camera, being next to the love of your life in that movie theatre or over dinner and yet, still not being there – If at all these situations you are tempted to scroll through your feed, update your status, watch that random video, or just chat with someone across the screen rather than the one across yourself, you have an issue, that’s nowadays referred to as ‘INTERNET ADDICTION’.
You never know when your acceptable urge to reply to that text message, or see what’s going on with a friend’s life, or checkout what’s getting viral or trendy, escalates to levels where unanswered urges start taking over you and your activities. As we advance and grow varied in our activities, indulgences, and hobbies, so does the potential of associated negative traits! So while the world goes on in its full fletched form, you merely see, receive and feel parts of it; whence it is filtered through a screen.
Although it may seem apparent that this addiction is merely the result of long hours spent on the net to an extent that it becomes compulsive for the individual, but it’s much deeper than that. Studies have shown those suffering from problematic net use, often suffer from other minor or major disorders as well, including (but not limited to) depression, social/mental/professional anxiety or other addictions including compulsive gambling, overeating, alcoholism or other chemical/drug dependencies. Thus, although in majority of cases this isn’t the root or the main problem at hand, but it does translate into serious, long and short term impacts on the life and health of the addict; physical, mental as well as social. But this does not imply that this addiction cannot be find in isolation in certain subjects. Young adolescents and children, who have grown up in environments wherein the major exposure is derived through mobile, laptop or TV screens, often suffer from an unexplained craving to go back to the familiarity, safety and control of screens than to face a random, uncontrollable yet real world!
Like any other addiction, the first symptom that should strike oneself are random uncontrolled urges to check out your screen/texts/social media feed/viral and popular content or indulge in virtual gameplay/gambling sites. Although this addiction does manifest itself with other symptoms as well, which can include –
Poor nutrition and poor personal hygiene rooting out of continued lethargy that arises from lack of physical activity, awareness and wellness.
There have been a few scientific and medical approaches towards counselling victims of this relatively new form of addiction:
A special therapy known as Cognitive behavior therapy has been designed to help individuals learn how to control their thoughts and feelings. This approach involves helping the patient to acknowledge the existence of the problem in the first place and then help him identify the issues and impacts the problem is creating! Then identifying what triggers excessive use of the internet and the third part is applying the same to problems that the patient avoids by indulging him/herself in the internet!
also a self corrective pattern associated with this addiction. But this is a slow and not an entirely guaranteed treatment!
All things said and done, there’s no substitute to willpower and a willingness to improve for the better. A determined mind knows (or ultimately finds) its way out of every situation it finds itself in.
Although it may not sound as the worst of the things one can get addicted to, yet still, an addiction is an addiction, which has consequences and impacts.
The most obvious and probably the most disastrous effect is the impact that this addiction has on your social life and interaction with the real world. Whilst we are lost in the false sense of comfort amidst the screens, the real world out there is advancing, learning, growing and happening!
Thus, prevention becomes a necessity. Encouraging young children to explore outsides practically rather than through the screens, avoiding any sort of indulgence in everlasting virtual online games, gambling, pornography, trivial viral videos etc. are the most basic steps one can take in this direction.
Realize the outer, real world is better than the virtual one.
Pick a hobby
Hangout with your friends
Limit your time on the screen.
The first and the foremost withdrawal symptom of quitting any addiction is an increased urge to get back to the escape and the blissful solace. An addict might not initially find the real world amusing, entertaining or controllable enough when he/she gets back to it, and hence might wish to turn back to a familiar screen of comfort and amusement. However, as (s)he gradually indulges in a more real version of life than the virtual one, (s)he whilst enjoying the benefits of a mentally, physically and socially healthier life can slowly but surely give-up on this interaction ruining addiction.