When an undergrad professor assigned us to research various forms of addiction, I leaped at the chance to cover the internet. Blatant refusal to put the phone down or losing track of time, are easy, identifiable signs. But read ahead for additional indicators of Internet Addiction.
Participating in Unacceptable Behaviors
Most use the internet as a source of information. But aside from studying, watching Youtube and leisurely browsing cat memes, do you experience a rush from remaining anonymous? Edward Lovett of ABC News provides daunting examples of internet stalking, ranging from secretive activity (like checking someone’s Facebook at 4:30 in the morning) to desperate attempts to find information on the victim, including searching for this person on multiple social media sites.
A fake Facebook profile is a good example of making unhealthy decisions.Trolls and cyber bullies take advantage of this factor by bashing others without the likelihood of getting caught, while the same goes for lurkers. These addicts presumably hold grudges, harbor resentment and lash out due to serious self-esteem issues. What’s sad is how this cycle becomes self-perpetuated: With more and more information discovered, he or she reinforces the shameful creepy behavior.
Turning to Social Media in the Midst of Anxiety
Last year I noticed how often a friend turned to social media during high pressure situations. We couldn’t approach a party without him reviewing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram one last time before we walked in. If repeated checking feels reassuring or you excuse yourself to the bathroom just to browse the internet, you might be an addict.
We all have that one friend determined to check us in every time we leave the house. And everyone knows that self-absorbed girl who changes her profile picture week after week. These types of folks usually suffer from anxiety, another symptom of internet addiction.
When the ego’s at play, some feel the urge to create an identity. Sadly many women waste away online with dopamine inducing sites such as Pinterest and Instagram. Men are just as guilty, but something about Pinterest lures us women in. Could it be the fact that we remain anonymous to other pinners, (people we will likely never meet) and so pretending to engage in activities we don’t actually complete makes us feel worthy of love and belonging?
Pinterest Fanatics stay online longer than originally intended and use the site to temporarily escape reality. An irritated attitude is evident of addiction if he or she refuses to log off in a timely manner, disrupting daily activities. Comparing yourself to others, and trying to copy someone may also suggest you have a problem.
I’m not saying everyone on Pinterest is addicted, or having fun online is bad. But when time spent on the desktop becomes excessive, these behaviors need to be evaluated. Even the New York Post wrote last week how jealousy is fueling internet addiction and stalking behaviors.
A teen client confided in me that when she compares herself to this other girl, the client tends to pin relentlessly. She couldn’t explain why she did it, but her obsession became this incessant need to check her rival’s Pinterest and to “one up” this chick by posting more pins. The client relieved her anxious nerves by compulsively checking the website even more, thus reinforcing a self-perpetuated bad habit. Ironically, her anxiety grew worse. Make sense?
Internet Usage Disrupts Daily Activities and Alters Relationships
Gambling, stalking and pornography are unacceptable behaviors like the ones mentioned previously. These addictive sites could lead to disruption in daily activities. If you remained online for 12 hour periods, your sleep schedule would begin to suffer. Skipping meals and showers to stay online longer is not healthy. If you play WOW nonstop, ignoring your significant other, things might become tense. Strained relationships with others could disintegrate altogether. It’s unfortunate when internet junkies dedicate more time to online shenanigans than the ones they supposedly care about. We must remember to act with kindness and empathy when dealing with these types of people.
Isolation suggests internet addiction. Nothing wrong with staying indoors and wanting to browse articles online or what have you, but cancelling plans repeatedly to play games that never end, like World of Warcraft or Second Life, indicates you should reevaluate your priorities.
Like any other addiction, some struggle with cutting back. Have you counted how many times you check your Facebook in a day? Try reducing that number by half, and see how it makes you feel. Same goes for Pinterest. If you only Pin certain items to look cool, knowing you have no interest at all in gardening or DIY projects, save your time for activities that truly interest you.
Stay tuned next week for a follow up post regarding how to combat internet addiction. And click on the links below for additional information.