I thought all kids our age spent as much time online as I do, but I’m starting to realize that I’m on the computer way more than anyone I know. I find being on the Internet to be much more interesting and entertaining than spending time with many of the people I know. I think I might be developing an Internet addiction. How can I tell?
Most of the college students you know would be lying if they said they didn’t log on to Facebook multiple times a day. There’s Internet on our Blackberries and iPods. Wi-Fi is accessible anywhere on campus. We can’t escape it even if we want to. The World Wide Web is undoubtedly a pervasive presence in our modern lives.
A little time spent Facebook stalking here and there isn’t anything to worry about, but there may be a problem when your Internet surfing begins to interfere with your daily life. Though its existence is sometimes debated among mental health professionals, Internet Addiction Disorder is recognized as legitimate by the American Psychiatric Association.
I’m afraid you may have already met one of the criteria – giving up social, job-related or recreational activities because of Internet use. I can only hope you haven’t actually blown off your friends to spend time with your computer. If you truly don’t find your real-life friends as interesting as your virtual ones, maybe it’s time to make an effort to meet some new people.
Those with Internet addictions will often risk losing job, educational or career opportunities to nurse their habit. Have you missed a big test or skipped work to clock some more Internet time? If so, check another one off the list.
Other criteria for Internet Addiction Disorder include increasing need for time spent online, developing withdrawal symptoms with reduction of use (like anxiety or obsessive thoughts about the Internet, for example) and using the Internet as a means of escaping problems.
Read up about the disorder and learn to recognize the signs of addiction and when you may be displaying them. This way, you can stop behaviors before they start. Hopefully you’re not so deep into the throes of addiction that you can’t overcome this on your own. Separate yourself from the Internet as much as possible and ask for support from your friends or family if you need it. There’s far too much to do in Miami to be spending all your time staring at a computer screen.
If you think you need professional help, stop by the Counseling Center in Building 21-R on Merrick Drive or give them a call at 305-284-5511.
Best of luck!
Fact O’ the Day: One researcher found that alcoholics are twice as likely to admit their drinking problem to a computer as to a doctor.
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