Americans are addicted. We are addicted to all kinds of things. Some to eating, some to drinking, drugs, shopping, technology… the list of addictive behaviors goes on and on. We are in denial, and turn to these things as a way to mask too many difficult and unpleasant events in our lives. When we’re stressed, we may eat to mask the stress and make ourselves feel better temporarily, but the effects don’t last, so we keep eating, but all we’re really done is make ourselves fatter, adding a new stress to our lives of being fat, and become addicted to eating. We may turn to drinking or drugs as a way to lift the weight of the world away for a while, but these too, are temporary escapes that almost always turn into addictions; this addiction will eventually cause permanent organ damage or even death of the addicted of an innocent bystander. Oddly enough, many people are turning to the internet for the same sort of relief.
With social media technologies, many people create personas that bear no resemblance to their true identities and struggles as a way to escape the woes of reality. They spend hours and hours wasting away on online games, social media, and other internet offerings. Depression, loneliness, stress, boredom, and anxiety can be washed away through imaginary online gaming spaces and chat features, which take the place of actual face-to-face conversations. For some, the internet can produce feelings of euphoria. In fact, the excessive use of the internet, online gaming, and social media has become a serious problem, and psychologists have now classified Internet addiction as the newest mental health disorder.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person who suffers from an internet addiction, or Internet Use Disorder, will experience many common symptoms associated with other addictive behaviors. The American Psychiatric Association’s list of symptoms of Internet Use Disorder include, but are not limited to a an preoccupation with internet use and/or internet gaming, symptoms of withdrawal if removed from the internet, the need to spend increasingly more time on the internet, loss of previous interests and hobbies, a significant relationship, educational or career opportunity, or a job due to excessive Internet and/or internet gaming use, deception of family, or other significant people in their life about internet use, and trading time for sleep and/or interaction with family and friends to be online, and the use of the internet as an escape or to achieve a euphoric mood.
So, Internet Use Disorder is now joining the family of other addictions and psychological disorders. What do you think? Is Internet Use Disorder actually a addiction or psychological disorder? And more importantly, are you an internet-aholic? Take this quiz, and find out!