When you think of addiction, internet addiction is not your first thought. Regardless, internet addiction has never been as relevant as it is today. Just like other types of addiction, an internet addiction is an obsession with the internet, an urge which you find very difficult to stop. The internet fills your thoughts during the entire day, and you feel like you are losing control over your free will when you sit down by your computer. It seems as though you can no longer exist without the internet.

If you identify with the above description, it is likely that you suffer from an internet addiction. Other than the above description, there are also clearer guidelines which help you to differentiate between an internet addiction and an internet preference. This article includes the symptoms of an internet addiction, potential solutions/treatment types, and finally a test, which helps you to identify the consequences of an internet addiction.

Do you suffer from an internet addiction? What are the symptoms of an internet addiction?

According to experts an internet addiction is present when someone spends more than 16 hours per week browsing the internet. This means that you have to spend more than 2 hours per day on the internet for the term internet addiction to potentially apply to you. 

The amount of hours you spend on the internet of course is not the only form of identification of an internet addiction. You can namely spend more than 2 hours per day on the internet without developing any kind of dependency. Thus, some form of dependency needs to be present, which makes it feel as though you have a constant need to consult the internet. This dependency in turn can cause that:

  • You push aside your daily, important tasks
  • Your circadian rhythm is disrupted by your internet addiction
  • Different areas of your life start to suffer from your internet addiction (for example school, family, friends, hobbies)
  • Your personal hygiene deteriorates
  • Your health deteriorates (carpal tunnel syndrome, complaints regarding your fingers and hands, eyesight issues,...)
  • You become unhappy
  • Your self-esteem is reduced
  • Your mood declines (irritation)
  • ...

As you can see, an internet addiction can affect your mind as well as your body to a large extent, with potentially serious long-term consequences.

What are the causes of an internet addiction?

There are different reasons as to why an internet addiction is developed. One of the most common reasons is flight behavior. The virtual world, for many, is a way of escaping daily life or issues in the real world; the internet is a place in which everything is possible. Oftentimes, feelings of loneliness, boredom or even low self-esteem lie at the basis of such flight behavior. Since the internet generally guarantees anonymity, many are calmed by the seeming possibility of taking on a new identity, where old issues do not come up.

There are also other causes, such as personality and even genes, which can play a part in the development of an internet addiction. These factors can interact with other factors, which then can lead to the development of an internet addiction. The influence of these factors, however, is less well-known and less charted than the cause that is 'flight behavior'.


What are the consequences of an internet addiction?

As already shown, addiction often works in a way that is opposite of what was intended: just like with other addictions, you are likely to find your internet addiction to be coupled with higher levels of depression and other symptoms which are linked to loneliness and poor self-esteem. 

Furthermore, issues around sense of time are also very common with internet addiction: time flies by and you feel like you in front of a screen for 5 minutes even though you have been browsing for 2 hours in reality. A disrupted circadian rhythm can also have consequences for your health: you are more vulnerable to illnesses, you have many issues which you did not have previously,...

An internet addiction often also has major consequences in different areas of your life such as your school, your family, your friends, your hobbies. People with an addiction generally feel isolated and often have issues with their education or at work because they can no longer finish their work as a result from their addiction. This can, in urn, have an influence on your psychological well-being, which then creates a type of vicious cycle of addiction.


Handling internet addiction? How do you treat internet addiction?

Do you think you suffer from an internet addiction? Then 15Minutes4Me.com can help you with handling/treating your addiction! 15Minutes4Me.com is an online self-help program, based on cognitive behavioural therapeutic and solution focused techniques, which help you to reduce negative behaviour (your addiction) and replace it with positive habits, chosen by you. The program guides you daily from your home in reducing the time you spend on the internet, and to fill this time with activities which you enjoy.

Learn today how to start making choices in your own life once again!


Internet addiction? Take the free test here!

Do you think you suffer from an internet addiction? Then test for free here what influence your addiction has on your daily functioning! The test takes around 5 minutes and sends you to the results page right after you finish taking it.