People using the internet has surged over the recent years as the internet provides people with the opportunity to have quicker access to information and alternate ways to communicate with each other. Due to various web contents and applications that allow us to make e-government, financial and banking transactions, access educational content, play online team/individual games and interact socially; more and more people are using the internet today. Also, the fact that we are able to have internet access on our tablets and mobile phones has resulted in an increasing internet usage growth.
As the internet usage has become an integral part of our daily lives leads to the fact that people can’t control the amount of time they spend online, the loss of academic/recreational activities as well as disruptions in mental health and social relationships. Especially young people and students are the most prone to the development of Internet addiction given the fact they mostly go online to play games or interact with their peers or other people.
Internet addiction is characterized by;
A person’s functional status is expected to get disrupted in case s/he exhibits the abovementioned symptoms at least for a few weeks (1,2).
It has been observed that the aspects of the internet like the freedom of expression in online spaces, online socialization, developing of a sense of belonging through group games/group messaging, or a sense of power or control when winning in gambling games, excessive need for access to information, may lead to excessive internet use (2). When the notion of addiction is reviewed under these aspects, it can be seen that people actually tend to develop an addiction to the content and services available on the internet. People tend to access the online content that meets their unfulfilled needs or desires. This is the real reason lying behind the addiction and this is what must be addressed to in reality. The internet only serves as an instrument that helps people satisfy their desires.
With regard to young people who move to another town for college education, excessive internet use may become an instrument that help these students adapt to a new environment and to avoid or cope with loneliness (3). Trying to find real life solutions to ongoing problems or needs that the person is trying to satisfy though online activities would be a functional method in terms of bringing the internet addiction under control.
If your family or friends start exhibiting addiction-like symptoms, you might be able to help them by referring them to a specialist who can offer professional support. If you think you are displaying some of the symptoms mentioned above, you should think about the reason why you go online in the first place. Figuring out the underlying needs or desires behind excessive internet use and start developing healthier habits that might help you soothe these cravings would be quite helpful in dealing with internet addiction. If you are having difficulty coping with addiction on your own and if you think your addiction brings disruptive effects to your daily life, you may schedule a personal counselling appointment at Altınbaş University Psychological Support Unit.
Elif Tuğçe ÇOLAKOĞLU