Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a distressed mood? If so, you may have an Internet addiction.
The BBC reported a recent study that observed brain scans of 35 men and women between the ages of 14 and 21 who classified as having Internet addiction disorder and found 17 of them displayed similar neurological charges as those of alcoholics and drug addicts.
The study asked a series of questions including the aforementioned and questions such as “Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop Internet use?”
Bojan Gutic says he has.
“I’m pretty much always on the Internet — including on my phone. I check Twitter at least once an hour and Facebook gives me notifications for everything,” the sophomore at Texas Christian University said.
Internet addiction is defined as “any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and one’s work environment,” according to the Center for Internet Addiction.
Though he has never seen a medical professional, Gutic says he spends about three hours on the Internet on his computer and immeasurable time on his phone applications for Twitter and Facebook, perusing reddit and news websites such as CNN and BBC.
“I’m actually usually not on my phone during class, but right after every class I am,” he said. “I know I use the Internet a lot like most people. I don’t really consider it a problem.”
Many scientists, however, have argued whether it can be diagnosed at all. The National Center for Biotechnology Information argues there is not enough information to determine whether the behaviors embody a disorder or a disease.
Still, students who find themselves unable to escape the cloud of social media have many options to help break their habit.
University of Maryland student Jennifer Darland says she does this by leaving her laptop at home.
“I believe that professors who allow students to bring laptops to class perpetuate the addiction. I know I have an addiction. Therefore, I do not even bring my laptop to class,” Darland said. “I think going to a school where there is free Wi-Fi everywhere also perpetuates the addiction.”
On an average day, Darland says she spends upwards of six to eight hours on the Internet on websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Mashable.
“I cannot complete a task or assignment without stopping to take breaks to check the Internet,” Darland said. “I am extremely bored and sad when I am not able to access my favorite websites. I feel cut off from the world even though I could just text or call my friends.”
There are many resources available for those who have an Internet addiction through the Center for Internet Addiction and many university health centers have resources available to students as well.
Otherwise, you can take Gutic’s advice and “Google it.”
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