The Internet has become an important part of our daily lives, especially when it comes to communication. However, just like any other good thing, the Internet is prone to abuse through such things as fueling disinformation, cyber-attacks, online bullying, health issues, and even Internet addiction.

One common problem among those is the problem of Internet addiction. This is where one has an online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on the family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.

How some Internet platforms are designed fuels Internet addiction

The Internet addiction problem is very similar to gambling addiction or drug addiction that occurs in real life. Drugs have active components that make one addicted to them, be it alcohol, nicotine or cocaine. However, no one starts using drugs to get addicted but to feel normal.

This is the same case with the internet. No one sets out to get addicted, but the continued use leads to dependency and one has to keep using the internet to sustain the feeling. This could be for entertainment, creating a sense of belonging in an online community or even killing time.

One reason for the addiction is the psychology behind the design of the internet tools that we use today that are meant to capture attention for the longest time possible. There are other predisposing factors such as anxiety and depression, environmental factors such as unchecked access to the internet, or even genetics.

Signs of Internet addiction

Is your internet use a habit or an addiction?

A habit is not a problem, but addiction is. Here are signs that you could be a problem with addiction.

  • Increasing or too much time spent online
  • Time management problems due to unhealthy use of the internet
  • Difficulty in doing day to day activities such as work or studying.
  • Health problems such as lack of sleep
  • Dependence on online relationships more than the physical ones
  • Presence of withdrawal symptoms when not using the internet

Most people who are addicted to the internet usually think they are not, and even become defensive when one suggests that they need to reduce their online activities. Perhaps, the best thing one can do is to seek help if you think you are addicted. Here are a few steps you can take if you want to take charge of your time online.

  • Make a deliberate effort to engage with people offline.
  • Monitor the amount of time you spend online. Modern smartphones and computers have tools to do that.
  • Get rid of triggers that lead you to the internet. This could be something like the presence of Apps or notification in your phone.
  • Learn to deal with boredom in a different way. Get creative ways to deal with boredom away from the internet.
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