Are you an internet addict?

Cat lying in front of computer
Cat lying in front of computer

Do you think you spend too much time online? Are you looking at your phone constantly to see if you have any messages or notifications? Do you begin to panic when the Internet drops out? If your answer is yes, you may be on the way to becoming addicted to social networking and the connected life.

The term “internet addiction” was first coined in 1995 by New York Psychiatrist Ivan Goldberg.  When he started receiving email from people saying they had the disorder, he set up a tongue in cheek online support group.  It was initially created as a form of satiric commentary on society’s fascination with addiction.

It is a huge social problem that according to some research, may be adversely affecting the brains of millions of people throughout the world. Psychiatrists assert that internet and technology addiction can lead to anxiety and depression.

The effects of addiction are no joke.  They range from loss of a job or marriage to car accidents for those who text while driving.

As my business depends upon the internet, I have been mindful to treat my computer and all my devices as tools that I use to communicate.  It is sometimes difficult for me to achieve this balance.

A recent study published in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, estimate that 6% of the world is addicted to the Internet, that is around 420 million people.  In China alone the problem affects 24 million young people and because of this alarming number government has established clinics to support those with this addiction.  The study supports the notion that the rapid rate of technological adoption around the world is out of control as we are awash in gadgets phones and digital devices.  According to the researchers, Internet Addiction was found to be highest in countries or regions with a lower qulaity of life, not in the countries with the highest rates of Internet Availability.

Even though most of the damage in this research is social and psychological, recent studies reveal the constant exposure to online content may be detrimental to the performance and brain activity of your mind. A survey conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences shows that teens addicted to the Internet have abnormalities in the “white matter” brain tissue containing nerve fibres. It also found evidence of some interruptions in the connections of nerve fibres the connecting control areas in the brain related to emotions, decision-making and self-control.

The prefrontal cortex is primarily responsible for gambling addictions, drug addiction. Recent research suggests that the prefrontal cortex influences Internet addiction as well. Although many studies that demonstrate changes in brain activity by excessive use of online content. There are other studies, such as recent research from the UCLA that found significant benefits for the controlled use of the Internet. This research suggests that controlled Internet use can improve brain function and speed up decision-making.

What is certain is that there are millions of cases of Internet junkies and hundreds of treatment centres dedicated to the treatment of this disease this is a serious brain disease that can be managed by treatment programs. The internet should not be a substitute for engagement with real life.

I am cautious about taking an alarmist position on Compulsive Internet Use or to take a negative view of the internet.  It is easy to say we are all addicted to the internet because it is such a pervasive influence on our lives.

I suppose the question is it is causing a problem in your relationship?  Are you in danger of losing your job?  Do you lie about it?  That is really where the issue and the need for help comes in.


This blog written with the assistance of Grammarly

teamSimon is a Sydney based digital designer. He is the Director of a boutique digital design studio, Bailey Street Design located in the vibrant inner west suburb of Newtown.  Simon studied graphic design at Shillington College and specialises in web design for small and medium size businesses.  Simon and his team (Toby the studio dog) are passionate about visual communication in the digital environment



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