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Is Internet Use an Addiction?

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Although alcohol and other narcotic substancesare considered extreme drugs par excellence, others are taking their place in the ranking of addictions without, however, being the target of major concerns, since they are considered the “normal” fruit of modern society, technological evolution and of cultural models.

This is the case of the Internet addiction., a new addition, which integrates the behavioral dependencies group. It is a serious pathology that can affect the lives of thousands of human beings and their families.

1. SIGNS OF INTERNET DEPENDENCE

Dependence on the Internet does not depend on age, nor on social, educational or economic contexts. The ease of access to the Internet, via mobile phone or tablets and ipads, substantially changed this scenario, with more and more women, children and adolescents using the network. Reinforcing stimuli can be: the sound and colors of social networks or games, physical contact with the keyboard or mobile phone and even the context or spaces where the Internet is usually accessed.

This type of addiction includes components such as overthinking about the Internet (willingness to go, what will you do, etc), mood swings, withdrawal symptoms, stress, lies (in this case about online time), conflicts and relapses, like any other addition.

2. PHYSICAL CONSEQUENCES OF INTERNET DEPENDENCE

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The physical consequences of this type of addiction can arise in the form of:

  • Weakness of the immune system;
  • Excessive tiredness;
  • Sleep disorders;
  • Lack of physical exercise;
  • Unregulated eating;
  • Head and back pain;
  • Eye fatigue;
  • Carelessness with personal hygiene.
  • Nervous twitches when it’s not possible to use the cell phone (such as constantly carrying your hand in your pocket, looking at your watch with agitation, looking for your cell phone whenever a nearby ringing sounds).

3. PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF INTERNET DEPENDENCE

Excessive use of mobile phones and internet consumes a large part of the person’s time, as well as their energy and other interests. Thus, it has a strong negative impact at the family, social, academic or professional, economic and personal levels. At the psychological level, can have several consequences:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Need for control over sentimental relationships
  • Fear of loneliness
  • Social phobia
  • Difficulty in “real” social interactions
  • Catfishing (encounters that go from virtual to physical and people are different than expected and even abusive)

TESTIMONY 1 – VIRTUAL DANGER (anonymous)

“As soon as I got home, instead of going to study, I immediately turned on the computer and started talking to my virtual friend (…) After a few months of conversation, I asked him to make an appointment. Only he didn’t. Two months later I insisted again and he accepted, on condition that we meet in a dark alley. It was strange, but I was already so involved that I let myself go… It was the worst experience of my life, he caught me from behind and covered my mouth, grabbing me by force. He ran his hand over my body and only then did I realize that he had fallen into a trap. “

TESTIMONY 2 – INJURY OF THE INTERNET (anonymous)

The little time I was at home, it was on the internet, whether I was in the living room or in bed, but the laptop didn’t separate. He fell asleep with the laptop on his lap. We no longer had contact and at a professional level also began to have problems.

I put up with this situation for two years, even because we had a child in common, which I didn’t want to harm with the separation. I put up with it, until one day I gave him an ultimatum: either me or the internet. I didn’t ask you to stop surfing the net, but I just wanted you to do it in a balanced way. To make up for this, he lost his job, he hadn’t been focused for a long time, and he was often late. Life was in chaos and I had to give it a direction, but very quickly.”

Dependence on the Internet is mainly based on affective and relational needs rather than objective needs. Regardless of the mode of expression of the addiction, its basis is common: it is reflected in the individual’s total inability to deal with their own feelings.

SUMMARY

Virtual space is seen as a safe space and the feeling of (false) protection is comforting for these individuals who may believe that it is only there that they are respected, loved and valued as people. In other words, the Internet can function as a means of expression (ex: shy people), a social support, a way to achieve sexual satisfaction, to experience a different “I”, to increase the feeling of dominance and to try to overcome states depressed or anxious. These purposes can be achieved through social networks, online games, pornography sites or related chats, among others. Don’t ignore this problem, and you know, always count on us.

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