Researchers claim that people are now facing a new addiction: an addiction to the internet. Researchers and counselors have been observing internet addiction starting to take hold, causing problems in relationships, isolating individuals and neglecting human interaction, says researchers.1
“We know of serious cases in which teenagers don’t leave the house, don’t have interpersonal relationships, and have been isolated in front of their computer screen for the past two or three years, and only speak in the language of the characters they play with in network video games.” (Source: Louise Nadeau / University of Montreal)
Internet addiction can be like any other addiction. It has a compulsive nature in which individuals start to have strong urges about hopping on the internet, checking their cell phones and using computers for non-essential purposes. With all the apps and social media sites immediately accessible on smartphones, this contributes to the pervasive nature of internet addiction.
Facebook and WhatsApp (a chatting app) are some of the most widely sought after, where individuals will spend excessive amounts of time online, sharing photos, playing games and chatting to the point that they are not able to stop.2
But whats more, is that researcher, Dr. Bert Wilt conducted a study that shows that there are often co-existing disorders with those that are addicted to the internet and cell phone apps. These conditions mostly include depression and anxiety disorders. Additionally, this study compared 25 individuals with internet addiction to 25 individuals that were addicted to alcohol. Surprisingly, the results show stark similarities.
Internet addiction affects individuals that have high rates of comorbitity (additional/co-existing disorders)3 accompanied by the compulsive nature similar to an alcoholic who needs a drink -internet addicts need games and apps.
In a large-scale study at the University of Leeds, researchers found that people who spend large amounts of time on the internet are more likely to have depressive symptoms. In fact, researchers found the evidence that internet users can develop a compulsive internet habit where they start to replace the real-life relationships and real people for online social networking. This, as researchers found, can have a great impact on ones mental health.
“While many of us use the internet to pay bills, shop and send emails, there is a small subset of the population who find it hard to control how much time they spend online, to the point where it interferes with their daily activities.” (Source: Dr. Catriona Morrison /University of Leeds)
This study has shown the strong link in internet use replacing normal social functions and possibly contributing to depression.4