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While spending time “online” can be very productive, in certain social areas, uncontrolled use of the internet can disrupt many ordinary and serene tasks in everyday life: family, study, work and even personal relationships. If you want to take care of your health you need to be aware of the signs, symptoms and consequences of Internet / Computer Addiction and thus find a balance between your life “online” and your duties “offline” before it is too late.

The proper and the incorrect use of the Internet:

The internet is instant access to information and entertainment not only from the office desk computer but anywhere and anytime via mobiles and other electronic devices.

It is the individual who determines the time spent using the computer or on the internet and whether the time spent was fruitful or not. Each person has various reasons for using the internet. People make use of this technology for productivity and efficiency at work and can also be used to maintain frequent visual contact with relatives and friends near and far.

But internet is only good when used in moderation. When all control of time and reasons of its use is lost, the internet easily becomes a problem because little by little it starts taking up a lot of your personal time which is supposed to be given to other obligations and duties. This happens when a person's attitude towards internet access becomes so repetitive and compulsive that the same person who finds it difficult to let go of the electronic device, even when to eat, talk, go out with friends or family and also to sleep.

So, when one starts to feel more comfortable relating to someone online rather than in person, when one is reluctant to stop playing online or ends up checking the social media constantly, then one is more likely to become, if not already, addicted to social media use or online gaming.

Internet Addiction Disorder

Internet Addiction Disorder is a condition that leads a person to lose control of the mental and emotional ability to stop what one is doing or watching. There are various types of problems related to obsessive and uncontrolled use of the computer and the internet and they come in various and specific names:

  • Information Overload - Excessive and continuous searching on the web or database leading to loss in work productivity and complications when interacting with family and friends.
  • Computer Addiction – Excessive playing of “offline” games such as Solitaire and Minesweeper and other modern games played without the need to go “online”.
  • Net Compulsions – such as gaming sites, stock trading and online shopping. Most of the times such excessive use lead to financial problems and unemployment.
  • Cyber Relation Addiction – by use of social networking, chat rooms, texting that lead to virtual relationships becoming more important than the actual family and friends.
  • Cyber Sex Addiction – These are adult sexual fantasy sites. Cyber Relation and Cyber Sex addictions are the most dangerous forms of this disorder as they leave a negative impact on the way the person addicted reacts in real life and in his or her intimate relationship with the partner. Depending on the intensity of the addiction, these will also leave negative long term mental and emotional issues in all parties involved.

How to fall victim of the Internet

Negative circumstances can easily coerce you in finding solutions that will relieve you of the sadness of the moment. The internet coerces some users to use it as a way of relieve from stress, loneliness and anxiety linked to negative personal circumstances. When you go online, it helps you forget those sad, painful feelings and gives you the impression that you have solved any issues you had before you went online. But once your mind registers this sort of escapism from all troubles, whenever you are in a stressful situation, it will automatically click inside you the urge to go online and you become eventually dragged into a vicious circle whenever you find yourself in difficulty.

It is therefore important to understand that there are many healthier and more effective ways to release yourself from moments of sadness. These alternatives include exercise, walking, swimming and all kinds of sports.  Meditation, yoga and any other relaxation technique will also help.

How can one lessen the urge to go online?

Plan well in advance the time you really need to use the internet in your spare time by:

  • making a schedule of when, what time and how long you will use the internet during the day and during the week;
  • writing a list of things or moments that trigger you to go online. List them in large print and stick them where you can see them;
  • looking for a choice of other things and hobbies that you can do or use instead of going online, such as visiting friends, walking in the countryside etc.;
  • rewarding yourself after anything positive you do, not related to internet use for example, after some sports, walking, washing dishes, or clothes or when you finish studying or finishing the last chapter of your favorite book.

What if one doesn’t manage to lessen the urge?

Ultimately, if none of the above helps you lessen the urge of your online addiction, it means that it will be wiser to seek the help of a therapist or other professional guidance since you are not capable to control and reduce this urge on your own.