Internet addiction encompasses many other terms that are used to describe a disorder in which someone’s internet use significantly interferes with or impacts their life in a negative way. Other terms include internet use disorder, internet gaming disorder, screen addiction, technology addiction, problem internet use, or phone addiction.
The line between normal technology and internet use and a problem or addiction is usually crossed when there is significant negative impact on the person’s life. This can include problems in school, work, social, family, health, wellness, mental health, or more than one of these.
The internet, tablets, phones, and gaming devices are everywhere and it is common to see people spending time on their devices. Excessive use can lead to poor sleep, poor health, arguments, lower performance in school and work, and social/family problems.
What are signs that there is a problem with internet addiction? Here are some:
-Weight loss or gain
-Poor personal care (not showering, taking care of teeth etc)
-Teachers or bosses notice a change
-Avoidance of real-life social interactions
-Anxiety (particularly when not able to use internet)
-Anger or outbursts when internet usage must end
-Losing interest in other activities
So what can you do if you or someone you know has a problem with internet addiction or problem internet use? Seek professional help. A professional can help a person who is doing damage to their lives and relationships by creating a plan to manage and treat the problem(s) at hand. It is not simply a matter of “taking away” the internet, it is a complicated and delicate process that must be tailored to the individual and their mental health needs.