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May 21, 2018

INTERNET ADDICTION (1)

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Ogidi ChianugoSince the mid 1990s, the Internet has had a revolutionary impact on culture and commerce, including the rise of near-instant communication by electronic mail, instant messaging, two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its discussion for blogs, social networking and online shopping sites.

 

It has become a fun and useful tool for students, business people, homemakers and others to use for school, work and communication purposes, internet use is very enjoyable and productive for most people, but for some, internet usage can become a compulsive behavior that interferes with school work, daily life and relationships.

 

INTERNET ADDICTION

Addiction is the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors. Internet addition may be broadly understood as an addictive urge in a person to log on to the internet.  When an internet user begins to feel more at home with online friends than with real friends or cannot stop the compulsive need to surf the Net, play games, view pornography, or gamble, then the user may have stepped out of bounds with his or her internet use and crossed over into the realm of internet addiction, which can have very negative consequences in a person’s life.

 

While the internet allows us to do more than ever, all that potential productivity comes with a price: endless distraction, internet users may enjoy aspects of the internet that allow them to meet, socialize, and exchange ideas through the use of chat rooms, social networking websites, or “virtual communities” and spend unnecessary time on them.  Other internet users spend endless hours researching topics of internet Online or “blogging”.

 

According to Wikipedia, in 2013, an estimated 39% of the world population uses the internet, with Nigeria ranking 8th among 212 countries of the world.  With this statistics, the likelihood of having internet addicts in Nigeria is highly probable.  As much as internet use will improve development in Nigeria, there is no telling the negative impact it will have among internet users in Nigeria, especially the youths.  It is a serious thing that everyone should be aware of.

 

Similar to other addictions, those suffering from internet addiction use the virtual fantasy world to connect with real people through the internet, as a substitution for real life human connection, which they are unable to achieve normally.

 

The brains of internet addicts may undergo chemical changes similar to those of alcoholics and other drug addicts, as a result, individuals need a higher dosage of “the internet” to achieve the same effect on their brains.

 

DOPAMINE

One of the chemicals playing a major role in addiction is dopamine.  In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter (chemicals released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells) that help control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.

 

WITH THE INTERNET, TWITTER, FACEBOOK (Social networks in general) and texting we now have almost instant gratification of our desire to seek.  Want to talk to someone right away?  Send a text and he/she responds in a few seconds.  Want to look up some information?  Just type it into goggle.  Want to see what your friends are up to?  Go to twitter or face book.  We get into a dopamine induced loop – dopamine starts us seeking and then we get rewarded for the seeking which makes us seek more.  It becomes harder and harder to stop looking at email, stop texting, stop checking our cell phones to see if we have a message or a new text.

 

The dopamine system is especially sensitive to “cues” that a reward is coming.  If there is a small, specific cue that signifies that something is going to happen, that sets off our dopamine system.  So when there is a sound when a text message or email arrives, or a visual cue, that enhances the addictive effect.

 

MULTITASKING

Multitasking is a method where multiple tasks, also known as processes, are performed during the same period of time.  Multitasking has been identified as one of the leading causes of internet addiction.  You log on to many websites, social networks and chat rooms at the same time, thereby increasing the rush of dopamine in your brain and making it harder to “pull off”.  It has also been identified that multitasking makes you less productive and more distracted and one of the causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adolescents.

 

INTERNET ADDICTION DISORDER

Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is a recently recognized condition characterized by out of control internet use.  IAD or more broadly, internet overuse, is excessive computer use that interferes with daily life.

 

Recent research stresses the fact that the internet addiction disorder is not a one-dimensional but a multidimensional construct.  Various facets of internet use must be differentiated because of their differential predictors, mechanisms and consequences.  Online activities which, if done in person, would normally be considered troublesome, such as compulsive gambling, or shopping, are sometimes called net compulsions.  Other habits such as reading, playing computer games, or watching a staggering amount of internet videos or movies are all troubling only to the extent that these activities interfere with normal life.

 

Supporters of disorder classification often divide IAD into subtypes by activity, such as excessive, overwhelming, or inappropriate pornography use, gaming, online social networking, blogging, email, or internet shopping.  Opponents note that compulsive behaviors may not themselves be addictive.  For example, bankers, stock brokers, computer operators/analysts who are under compulsion to use the computer/internet.

 

WARNING SIGNS OF INTERNET ADDICTION

While time spent online can be hugely productive, compulsive internet use can interfere with daily life, work and relationships.  When you can’t stop yourself from playing games, or compulsively surfing – even when it has negative consequences in your life – then you may be using the internet too much.

 

Other signs may include:

  • Preoccupation with the internet.  (Thoughts about previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session).
  • Use of the internet in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction.
  • Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control cut back or stop internet use.
  • Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the internet.
  • Online longer than originally intended.
  • Jeopardized or risked loss of significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunities because of internet use.
  • Lies to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the internet.
  • Use of the internet is a way to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood (e.g. Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, anxiety, depression).
  • Negative life consequences such as job loss, marriage breakdown, financial debt and academic failure.

 

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– Ogidi Chianugo

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