Who’s Most at Risk of Developing an Internet Addiction?
Much like the invention of the telephone opened up channels of communication, the Internet has created a whole new world of communication on multiple levels. From easy access to information to sharing information to interacting with one another face-to-face, the Internet has redefined the communications field on a broad scale.
Unfortunately, this new world comes with problems of its own for people with addiction-type tendencies. Internet addiction has become a growing phenomenon that can disrupt a person’s life in much the same way as other forms of addiction.
As with any compulsion or obsession, certain risk factors make those most susceptible easy targets for developing an internet addiction problem.
Internet Addiction Disorders
In general, five categories of internet addiction exist:
- Cyber Relationship
- Current Psychiatric Reviews
- Online gaming
While these categories differ in focus, the same thoughts, emotions and behaviors drive the compulsive behaviors that characterize an addiction disorder. According to Current Psychiatry Reviews, someone who spends excess amounts of time engaged in online activity without regard for negative consequences displays the primary symptoms for internet addiction disorder.
Addiction-type tendencies can transfer from one activity to another. For this reason, people engaged in substance abuse face an increased risk of developing internet addiction disorder, according to the Journal of Addictive Behaviors.
Someone who engages in excess online activity experiences highs and lows in the same way a substance abuser does. In effect, these two activities stimulate the same areas of the brain.
This means someone affected by both conditions will have an even more difficult time overcoming compulsive online use.
Someone who has difficulty forming and/or maintaining relationships can easily be drawn to the more social aspects of the online world. In this respect, internet addiction can develop out of a need to interact with others, with time spent online increasing the longer a person continues to use the Internet in this way.
People who feel unfulfilled in terms of their work or overall purpose in life may be drawn to the level of mental stimulation the Internet has to offer. Likewise, someone like this may be especially attracted to online fantasy games.
In either scenario, the risk of internet addiction increases as time spent Online increases.
Too Much Free Time
Periods of free time or non-structured time create the type of void that online activities can easily fill. Someone who has large amount of time on his or her hands may well be susceptible to engaging in compulsive online activity.
Mental Health Problems
Mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety-based disorders drive sufferers to find ways to cope with difficult emotional states. In effect, coping behaviors work to relieve the discomfort that comes with emotional distress.
The Internet offers a prime environment for escaping daily problems and experiencing feelings of calm or joy or validation not obtained in the “real world.”