Are You an Internet Addict?

Technology addiction is surprisingly real.

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By: Ufuk Yagci

The Draw: Our  Dependence on the Internet

With the evolution of Internet and advances in technology, communication has become very easy and fast. A survey conducted in Great Britain in 2014 demonstrates the positive impact of technology on relationships. With the use of the Internet and mobile devices, families and friends can stay in contact much easier than in the past. Moreover, technology has made a significant impact on people’s lives with the accessibility of information.

The Threat: Internet Addiction!

Unfortunately, the treats that the Internet offers us have some potential drawbacks.  Some people spend too much time in front of their screens and may even find themselves addicted to the Internet

But what is an addiction? Internet Addiction is defined as any online-related compulsive behaviour that interferes with people’s lives and causes stress on their environment and relations. According to the International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine, one in eight Americans suffers from problematic Internet use and the rates are even higher in many Asian countries.

Is Internet Addiction a Real Disorder?

Internet addiction is a psychological disorder that has been recently proposed for inclusion in the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association. DSM-V actually includes Internet addiction as a disorder that needs further study and research.  It is not an official disorder and the APA requires additional research to decide to call it an official disorder. This may be because there is not enough evidence and data to determine if Internet addiction is a separate disorder or if it has another cause. Some experts call the Internet addiction as “Impulse Control Disorder”.

What are the Symptoms of Internet Addiction?

In 1998, “Internet Addiction Test” (IAT) was created by Dr. Kimberly Young, who is a professor at St. Bonaventure University. The IAT measures the severity of self-reported compulsive use of the Internet for adults with the term “Internet” referring to all types of online activity. The scale and the test have been translated into several languages including Chinese, French, Italian, Turkish, and Korean.

Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world. The K-scale (Korea scale) has been developed as a checklist for diagnosing and evaluating the rate of Internet addiction in South Korea. It was created by psychologists to measure  Internet use under the age of 18.  The government provides health assessments and assistance to those with high K-scale scores.

Common Signals of Internet Addiction?

  • Do you have a very strong desire to use your mobile device first thing in the morning or last thing at night?
  • Do you spend more time with technology than pursuing other activities in your life?
  • Do you panic when your mobile device is getting low on power?
  • Do you get nervous if there is no Wi-Fi connection available?
  • Do you go out and meet with your friends and find yourself spending time on your mobile device?
  • Do you find it difficult to unplug? Regardless of the consequences, do you tell yourself and others that your use is a “lifestyle” choice?

If you have responded “Yes” to the majority of the above questions, then the danger bells may be ringing.

What Can you do to Prevent Technology Addiction?

The way technology addiction is diagnosed can differ from country to country, but statistics show that more people are suffering from Internet addiction. Here are some tips for preventing technology addiction:

Create technology-free zones and times at home

Ban technology at meal times. This is an excellent opportunity for you and your family to share and communicate. Make a rule not to bring technology to the dinner table.

Choose outdoor activities  on the weekends

Go for a walk, ride a bike or engage yourself and your family in any kind of healthy physical activity over the weekends. Do not forget to make this a technology-free activity.  Leave your phones at home or shut them off.

 

Limit social media use

Limit your use of social media in your daily routines. Do not leave notifications on for your social media accounts. Try to put time limits on your own use of social media and log off when you are done.

Make a list of technology-free activities

Create technology-free times and activities for you and your family. It is amazing how much quality time you can have without the technology. Prepare a list of activities with the family members for yourself and your family. Then try to do one each evening.

Stop always being available 24/7

Technology lets people work and be accessible no matter the place or time. Make an agreement with your co-workers on limiting digital availability outside of work.

Skip the morning digital check-in

Do not check your social media accounts or email when you just wake up.  Your social media and emails can wait until you get to work.

 

 

Additional Reading

References

Aboujaoude E., Koran L.M., Gamel N., Large M.D., Serpe R.T., (2006). Potential markers for problematic Internet use: A telephone survey of 2,513 adults. Retrieved from

American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5).

BBC News. (2014). Should holiday email be deleted?

Concordina University. (2016). Navigating the unknown: Conditions for further study from DSM-V.

Commonsense Media. ( 2015). Common sense census: Media use by tweens and teens.

Healthline. (2016). What is an addiction?

Net Addiction. (2013). Internet addiction test (IAT).

Net Addiction. (2013).What is internet addiction disorder?

OECD. (2017). OECD broadband statistics update. Mobile broadband penetration at 95% in OECD area. Retrieved from

Przbylski A.K., Weinstein N., Murayama K. (2017). Internet gaming disorder: Investigating the clinical relevance of a new phenomenon.

Statista. (2014). Thinking about effects of technology on relationships with friends and family

Techaddiction. (2017). Internet addiction statistics.

Techtarget. (2011). K-scale for Internet addiction (Korea scale for Internet addiction).

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