Internet is as ubiquitous as doubles in a Trini diet and in many ways follow the same characteristics. For example, don’t we always search around for that best doubles vendor in the same manner we congregate to the end of a room where the Wi-Fi signal strength is the strongest? And we know there should be a limit on how much doubles we consume yet still, we ask for that one more. Much in the same we sneak in those extra minutes just before bed or at the breakfast or dinner table, or at the office just to see who updated their Facebook status. We know its wrong but we do it anyways. The consequences however are both tragic in the same way. While over consumption of one may lead to one of the commonly know lifestyle diseases the other might be opening the gate to a new one that is currently being labeled as ‘Internet Addiction Disorder’.
Internet Addiction Disorder is being characterized as a control disorder where users are so preoccupied with their online world that they use it as a substitution for real life human interaction. It is important that we are aware of this term, as like many other lifestyle diseases, before you know that you have it, it’s already too late.
Knowing the warning signs of Internet addiction disorder is a key factor in its detection and prevention. The children of this generation will know nothing less than touch screen computing, broadband Internet and accessibility to a plethora of devices that we may have once thought only existed in the Star Trek series. While it is not being challenged that this proliferation of technology has increased our productivity and efficiency and that there are countless pros to support future advancement of such technology, we must not hide that there are cons that must be addressed.
While it may be difficult for us to realize and admit the following symptoms of Internet Addiction ourselves, we can point out whether those who are near to us are showing some of these signs.
The first warning sign of Internet Addiction is preoccupation with the Internet. This occurs when a person cannot stop thinking about when last they were online and wait in anticipation for their next online session. According to 2013 Internet Trends Report by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers many people check their phone at least 150 times a day, though sending texts and making phone calls were at the top percentile, social media and gaming came in quite high as well.
The next sign of Internet Addiction is using the Internet in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction. This is analogous to what some may have referred to as a hobby in the past. However this is quite different from collecting stamps and building model airplanes. When there is a need to spend more and more time on the Internet as a means of gaining satisfaction, which cannot be derived from any offline activity, then this may be a sign of Internet Addiction.
If someone becomes restless or irritable when away from Internet connectivity whether intentional or not then this is another sign of Internet Addiction. In many cases, teens have shown extreme reactions for not being able to go online, some even being fatal. The importance therefore of managing Internet time so that it does not become a dependency is critical for any parent or guardian to be aware of.
In other extreme cases, some users have openly chosen the Internet over their relationship, job, and education resulting in failures of all of these major life milestones. Dr. Daniel Miller of the University College of London conducted a study, published in 2011, about the Facebook culture in Trinidad and Tobago. In this report he speaks about a couple that went through a divorce as a result of Facebook. The trends therefore are quite real and pertinent to our small island with over 450,000 Facebook user accounts registered under the country Trinidad and Tobago out of a population of 1.3 Million.
Lying about doing homework or forgetting to pass in the grocery is one thing, but lying about Internet use is another. Utilizing media sites that have an activity logger built in to their system can show when last the user posted, uploaded, tweeted or liked. If at home, one can easily track and control Internet usage by installing any one of the free Internet software available. Visit CyberSafeTT.com for current Internet tracking and monitoring software information.
One of the last signs of Internet Disorder is the use of the Internet as an escape from problems or to mask a mood such as depression, anxiety or hopelessness. This sign may be difficult to trace, as users tend to create a different on-line persona and act out alternate identities from their real life. In a few cases, the signs are straightforward with users posting updates of their mood. Signs like this should never be ignored and if they are noticed, should be reported to a professional in the filed to adequately deal with the disorder before tragedy strikes.
Other signs of Internet Addiction may include bad eating habits, severe headaches, sleeping disorders, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and general failure to address personal hygiene. , Once you determine that there is a problem then the next step is to get help.