Excessive use of computers that interfere with daily life has now been recognized as internet
addiction disorder. Other terms used for it are, “Compulsive internet use” or ,”problematic internet
use”. These terms mean a state where important social and/or occupational activities are
reduced or given up, due to use of internet, i.e. where normal life is disrupted due to internet use.

“Internet addiction”, is a subset of broader technology
addiction. Way back it was for radio (1930s), later for
television, but with the virtual explosion of digital technology,
there is no parallel between intensity of addiction to radio or
T.V. to that of internet. It offers a wide range of experiences,
with no accountability, hence is much more appealing to
users. The first quantitative journal study results of Internet
use as possible addiction were published in 1996 by Penn
State researcher, Steven John Thompson. in the Penn State
McNair Journal. Thompson was a McNair Scholar who
began his empirical Internet addiction research in 1995
with focus on the mass media effects of the Internet on
society. Various other studies have also been carried out.
The harmful effects of excess use of internet are well
known now. Reduced eye sight, chronic back and neck pain,
cramps in fingers, carpal tunnel syndrome, obesity and
its attendant problems are the physical effects of excess
internet use. Emotional instability, being cut off from real
emotions are some of the mental effects. Living in a fantasy
world with more online friends than real ones, inability to
nurture real human relationships, breakdown of existing
relationships are the social hazards of excess internet use.
Lack of attention at work place affects one’s ability to work
and reduces work output. Thus it can be seen that excessive
internet use affects one’s physical, mental, social, as well
as occupational lives. Teenagers and adolescents are much

more affected. Worse still, they may be drawn to pornography
or other undesirable sites, which can make them delinquents.
Giving it up becomes difficult for users. Individuals with IAD, have
been known to suffer from irritability, anxiety, vague headache,
if they give up internet use suddenly. The addiction can be to
anything on the net like music, videos, online gambling, games,
Since younger people are more affected, it is vital for elders
to watch for warning features of IAD. Some of these are,
preoccupation with the Internet, where one is always thinking
about previous on-line activity or anticipating the next one. Use
of the Internet in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve
satisfaction, no attempt or repeated, unsuccessful efforts to
control, reduce or stop Internet use. Feelings of restlessness,
moodiness, depression, or irritability in the individual, when
attempting to cut down Internet use, staying on-line longer
than originally intended, even when avoidable. Jeopardized or
risked loss of significant relationships, job, educational or career
opportunities because of excess Internet use. Telling lies to
family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of
involvement with the Internet. Use of the Internet as a way to
escape from problems or to relieve a bad mood.
It is considered important to check for the above mentioned signs
of IAD and help the affected person to overcome it. Counseling
as individuals and in groups is the first step towards it. Reducing
the use, instead of curtailing it altogether, is aimed at. People
should be educated about how constant, excess internet use can
affect their overall health. They need to be told that online
friends can be fake as well as dangerous. Outdoor and indoor
activities should be planned for youngsters, which should be
much more enjoyable than watching internet.
Collective efforts by all concerned, can ensure that internet is
used without being addicted to it.

By Rachna Pande
[email protected]

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