Believe it or not, there was once a time without Internet. In fact, for the larger part of our human history, we have thrived without the Internet. But, since about 2000, the Internet has been a crucial part of our existence. And today, with children and young adults growing up in this environment, the Internet has been a source of all that is good and bad. The purpose of this article is to highlight some possible factors in determining if a teenager you know is addicted to the Internet.
Teenagers & The Internet
Recent research from the Pew Institute concluded that around 95% of teenagers have access to a smart phone, with near 45% stating they use the Internet “almost constantly”. Although these numbers are not surprising, they call attention to the massive obsession that is the Internet. With majority of human connection, entertainment, and information originating online, it is important to create and maintain healthy boundaries for our children and teenagers.
Signs of Addiction
While addiction is an extremely personal and heavy topic, we will list some obvious signs that could elude to internet addiction. Keep in mind we are not medical doctors, nor do we believe that any external resource has the capacity to prove if someone is an addict or not. Nevertheless, if you are struggling with one or more of these, you may be subject to an Internet addiction.
- Spending countless hours online
This is a rather simplistic sign. However, if you continuously spend aimless hours online, without an apparent goal (research, speaking with family, etc.) you may have a problem.
- Inability to get off the Internet
When you begin arriving late to appointments, missing quality time with friends or family, skipping meals, etc. you may be suffering from an online addiction.
- Feeling of Euphoria
If you experience an immediate feeling of euphoria when getting online (or the thought of getting online), you could be struggling with an addiction.
Isolation is a key factor in determining the severity of your case. Avoiding social interactions, especially for the purpose of using the Internet, is a prominent indication that things are getting out of control.
Emotional signs are just as important as the physical signs in determining a problem. Below are some emotional signs that could exist for someone with an online addiction.
- Loss of sense of time
- Mood Swings
The Internet can be a necessary force in providing resources for us. With that being said, we must create a determining line that separates legitimate online research from using the Internet to fuel an obsession. The best way to determine this is by asking the following question: Is the time on the Internet directly involved in a project, communication, or something beneficial to us?
Tips on Creating Boundaries
Setting boundaries can allow us to function normally (because the Internet is needed for most of the modern world) without being unhealthy. Here are some quick tips to practice setting boundaries for an Internet addiction:
- Limit the time on devices
If you are only allowed a specific amount of hours per day on the Internet, you would learn to use your time wisely. Plus, the remaining hours would be reinforcement that we do not need the Internet to be happy.
- Be honest with yourself
The key to change, at any level, requires a level of honesty with oneself. If you are able to honestly say to yourself, “I have a problem with an Internet addiction” then you are on your way to freedom.
- Be Clear with others
It’s important to be clear with your friends and family about your issues. If you prioritize your health, you will avoid tempting areas, people, and destinations.
You cannot expect to completely change overnight. So, be patient with yourself or your loved one. The one thing that matters is the willingness to move forward.
The Seriousness of Internet Addiction
I know countless individuals, myself included, that would scoff at the idea of people being addicted to the Internet, social media, or video games. However, after much consideration, studying factual evidence, and meeting with teenage parents, I have seen this as a legitimately devastating issue that will only continue to grow.
The issue of Internet addiction is not specific to the problems associated with constant involvement online- antisocial, lazy, anxious. The biggest challenge is the application of the problem with Internet addiction. What I mean, is that when people become addicted to a source of self fulfilment, especially one that provides little physical rewards, they are subject to an entire new set of issues.
For instance, some may develop eating habits, drug addiction, or serious anxiety problems. According to Sober Living company Real Deal, almost half of their residents suffer from other addictions. Some even include addiction to video games, pornography, and gambling sites. So, an Internet addiction may not be exclusive to the Internet.
While there is no reality in which the Internet will not exist, it is possible to practice healthy behaviors. Step one is understanding whether or not someone truly has a problem. Step two would be to ask for help. Step three and beyond is a constant application to change behaviors, attitudes, and perspective. It is much better for us to identify the potential of Internet addiction today to save our children tomorrow.