Think you might be spending too much time on the Internet? Here’s one way to know for sure.
An 18-year-old – who has been identified only by his surname Chuang – was found dead on July 13th in a Taiwan internet café after playing the action video game Diablo 3 for 40-hours non-stop. A café attendant found the young man resting on a table in a private room he had rented two days prior.
The attendant managed to wake Chuang, who stood up and took a few steps before collapsing and being rushed to a local hospital, where he died a few hours later. Authorities suspect the man suffered from a blood clot – deep-vein-thrombosis – from sitting for such a prolonged period of time.
While time spent on the Internet can be hugely productive and rarely ends in death, compulsive Internet use can interfere with everyday life, work and relationships. When you start to feel more comfortable with your online friends than your real ones or you can’t stop yourself from playing games, gambling or compulsively web surfing, you may be suffering from IAD – Internet Addictive Disorder.
HELPGUIDE.org offers an extensive discussion on Internet and Computer Addiction.
IAD covers a wide variety of impulse control problems between a person, their computer and the Internet. The most common addictions are Cybersex Addiction – which is marked by the compulsive use of Internet pornography or adult chat rooms, Cyber-Relationship Addiction – where one is addicted to social networking and messaging to the point where virtual friends become more important than real-life relationships with family and friends and Net Compulsions such as compulsive online gambling, gaming, stock trading or use of online auction sites like eBay.
Other IAD obsessive behaviors are identified as Information Overload, identified by compulsive web surfing and Computer Addiction, whose hallmark is the obsessive playing of off-line computer games.
Knowing if you’re spending too much on the Internet or your computer is a tricky proposition. Each person’s Internet use is different.
You may need to use the Internet extensively for your work or you may rely on social networking to stay in touch with family and friends. Experts define “too much time on the Internet” as being a problem when it causes you to neglect your real relationships, interfere with your work or school studies or disrupt other important aspects of your life.
Those at greatest risk of developing IAD are people who suffer from anxiety, are depressed, struggle with other addictions such as drugs, alcohol and gambling and lack social support. Unhappy teenagers, people who are less mobile and those who are stressed fill out the risk roster.
Signs and symptoms of Internet Addiction vary from person to person and there are no set hours per day or messages per hour that define the condition. There are, however, some general warning signs that your Internet use may have become a problem.
- Losing track of time. Do you frequently find yourself on the Internet longer than you intended? Does a few minutes turn in to a few hours?
- Having trouble completing tasks at work or home. Are you staying late at work because you can’t get your work done due to Internet use during work hours or is the laundry piling up because you’ve been busy online?
- Isolation from family and friends. Are you neglecting your family and friends because of the amount of time you spend online? Do you feel like no one in your real life understands you like your Internet friends?
- Feeling guilty or defensive about your Internet use. Do you hide your Internet use or lie about how much time you spend on the computer and what you do while online?
Since Internet Addiction is relatively new, there are few support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous. However, Cognitive Behavior Therapists have had success in controlling compulsive Internet Behaviors and changing your relationship with the Internet and your computer.
Perhaps, the best place to start is by asking your general practitioner for a referral.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.