The ubiquitous use of smartphones and access to the internet has undoubtedly transformed our lives in a multitude of ways, but with it, comes the risk of addiction. Our dependence on digital devices and internet connectivity has sparked a new area of study – internet addiction.
In recent years, scientists have developed a new internet addiction spectrum, which categorizes individuals based on their dependence on the internet. This new spectrum highlights the various behavioral patterns seen in people who exhibit addictive tendencies towards technology and digital devices.
The internet addiction spectrum consists of six distinct categories: normal internet use, at-risk internet use, problematic internet use, pathological internet use, addictive internet use, and dependent internet use. Each category is defined by the various levels of dependence, ranging from occasional use to an inability to function without constant access to the internet.
The types of activities that people engage in on the internet can also contribute to their level of internet addiction. Highly stimulating and rewarding activities like online gaming and social media are especially known to foster addictive behaviors.
It is important to recognize the signs of internet addiction and seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with excessive internet use. Internet addiction can lead to negative consequences such as impaired social skills, poor academic/work performance, and detrimental effects on mental health.
Research on Internet Addiction
Research on internet addiction conducted by the University of Surrey has shed light on the issue by creating a spectrum that analyses individuals’ internet usage. The research involved studying the internet habits of 796 participants, ranging from casual users to addicts. The findings revealed that casual users log on to the internet for specific purposes and quickly log off without lingering. These individuals typically do not succumb to the allures of the internet’s endless distractions, and are able to maintain a balance in their lives.
In contrast, internet addicts openly acknowledge their addiction and recognise its negative impact on their lives. These individuals find it challenging to log off the internet and are often distracted by its endless supply of information and opportunities. This excessive internet usage can lead to a range of negative consequences in their lives, including physical and emotional health issues, social isolation, and work and academic performance problems.
The research found that internet addiction occurs on a spectrum, with individuals falling at different points on the scale. At one end are moderate users who maintain a healthy balance, and at the other end are those who are severely addicted and require professional treatment. The findings of this research highlight the importance of monitoring our internet usage and being aware of the potential negative effects excessive internet usage can have on our lives. This research revealed that:
- Young people (age 24 and younger) spend an average of six hours a day online, primarily using their smartphones
- Older people (aged older than 24), spend an average of 4.6 hours online every day
- The team found no link between gender and internet addiction
Based on this data, the researchers classified internet users into five distinct categories.
- Around fifteen per cent of users were classed as ‘Casual Users’, who mainly go online for specific tasks and log off without lingering. Casual Users show no signs of internet addiction and are generally older, with an average age of 33.4 years, according to the researchers.
- Next, 22.86 per cent were classed as ‘Initial Users’, who often find themselves online longer than they had initially planned. With an average age of 26.1 years, Initial Users are somewhat neglectful of household chores, but don’t consider themselves addicted.
- Experimenters’ make up 21.98 per cent of internet users and feel uneasy or anxious when not connected to the internet. Their average age is between 22.8 and 24.3 years.
- Taking this up a level, 17.96 per cent are ‘Addicts-in-Denial’, who display addictive behaviours like forming new relationships online and neglecting real-world responsibilities to be online. However, Addicts-in-Denial, who are aged 24 on average, won’t admit to feeling uneasy when they’re not connected.
- Finally, 22.36 per cent are classed as ‘Addicts’, and openly acknowledge their internet addiction and recognise its negative impact on their lives. Addicts are aged 24 on average, and spend 1.6 times more time online than Casual Users.
With the findings that internet addiction is more prevalent among younger individuals, Dr Brigitte Stangl, the lead author of the study, highlighted that their main objective was to distinguish between problematic internet use and internet addiction. The researchers found that a person’s likelihood of being addicted to the internet decreases with age.
The results of the study reinforce the concerns surrounding internet addiction, and the need for tailored interventions and support for individuals at various stages of addiction. The researchers suggest that age-specific interventions can be more effective in addressing the problem of internet addiction.
In response to the emerging problem of internet addiction, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) introduced a new service in 2019 to provide support to children and young adults who are seriously addicted to the internet or computer games. The service was introduced to address the increasing pressures that children and young people face in today’s digital age.
However, with the new findings, the researchers are calling for more personalized interventions to help individuals overcome internet addiction. This reinforces the need for healthcare providers to tailor interventions to the specific needs of the individual, taking into account age, gender and other factors that may contribute to addiction.
In summary, internet addiction remains a serious concern for healthcare providers, especially for younger individuals. The need for tailored interventions and support at various stages of addiction is critical for patients struggling with this problem. The research findings call for renewed efforts by healthcare providers to develop personalized interventions that are most effective in treating the underlying causes of internet addiction.
To combat internet addiction and reclaim one’s life, it is imperative to seek professional help. Omega Recovery, a trusted name in addiction recovery, offers services specifically designed to treat internet addiction. Their team of experts provides personalized care, tailored to each patient’s unique needs and situation.
At Omega Recovery, they understand the struggles associated with internet addiction and are committed to helping people overcome it. They utilize a variety of evidence-based therapies and techniques to help patients break free from the grips of addiction and live a fulfilling life.
Don’t wait until your problem gets worse; take action today and get the help you need. Contact Omega Recovery by calling or visiting their website to learn more about how they can help you or a loved one overcome internet addiction and regain control of your life.