Businesses still did business. People still communicated. And life went on. Nowadays, all that is the same, but the Internet plays a significant role in virtually everyone’s life. Unfortunately, too much time spent online can actually be detrimental to your health.
According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans go online daily. Approximately 43% say they go online several times per day, and 26% say they’re online “almost constantly.”
Americans already have to deal with plenty of health concerns — not to mention the financial issues associated with healthcare. Even among those with health insurance, approximately 20% of Americans have difficulty paying their medical bills. Having to deal with Internet-related health ailments can lead to all sorts of physical, mental, and financial concerns.
In fact, some health experts are already warning about Internet Addiction Disorder. How real is this disease? Real enough for its own Wikipedia page. IAD, also known as problematic Internet use or pathological Internet use, is defined as excessive online usage that interferes with daily life. Though the Internet is crucial for many aspects of everyday life in 2019, it needs to be used in moderation to avoid serious health and personality issues.
People don’t think the Internet is something that can be abused, but that’s not the case. Addiction is defined as “a compulsive need for and use of habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.” Substances clearly can be addictive and abused, but so, too, can the Internet.
Internet addiction can involve excessive video game usage, compulsive online shopping, social media reliance, and so much more.
Signs of IAD can be present in both physical and emotional manifestations. Many of these symptoms are common and associated with other health issues, but when coupled together could indicate an online dependency. Here are some of the symptoms of IAD to keep an eye out for:
- Feelings of guilt
- Mood swings
- Feelings of euphoria when using a computer, cell phone, laptop, etc.
- Avoidance of work
- Inability to prioritize or keep schedules
- No sense of time
- Boredom with routine tasks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Dry eyes and other vision issues
- Poor nutrition
- Poor perusal hygiene
- Weight loss or gain
- Personal relationship issues
According to PSYCOM, as many as 38% of people in the U.S. could be experiencing Internet Addiction Disorder. In order for this disorder to be diagnosed, five criteria need to be met, including:
- Is constantly thinking about past or future Internet use.
- Needs to use the Internet with increased amounts of time to gain satisfaction.
- Has made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop using the Internet.
- Is restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to control Internet use.
- Has stayed online longer than originally intended.
- *one of the following must be present in diagnosis, as well:* has jeopardized the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational, or career opportunity due to online usage; has lied to family members to conceal their involvement with the Internet; uses the Internet as a way of escaping from problems to relieve a dysphoric mood.
There are 327 million people in the U.S. and roughly 300 million of them rely on the Internet quite a bit. The Internet isn’t going away. In fact, it’s only going to become more accessible, convenient, and advanced. It’s important to do everything you can to give yourself regular breaks from online activity so you can continue living a happy IAD-free life.