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What Are the Consequences and Prevalence of Internet Addiction?

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Do You Have Internet Addiction - Eminent SEO

On this Eminent SEO blog, we generally offer marketing advice, website and social media tips, as well as SEO and tech news. On this go-round, however, we’d like to slightly deviate from our usual offerings and talk about an issue that more closely relates to something many of our clients would usually cover: addiction.

But we’re not here to talk about addiction to drugs, alcohol or other harmful habits that quickly come to mind. Instead, what we’d like to look more into is excessive online surfing, aka internet addiction.

Internet addiction is real, and it’s not spectacular. Studies show that it’s not all too prevalent now, but given the web-usage habits of millennials on down, it will likely become more common in coming years.

In this post, we’ll take a look at:

  • The characteristics of internet addiction
  • How common this type of addiction is
  • The risks and consequences of excessive web usage
  • How alleviate one’s own internet addiction

What Characterizes Internet Addiction?

Couple On Couch With Smartphones - ESEOInternet addiction isn’t yet considered an official disorder, but it’s listed in the U.S. as a condition that warrants further study. This condition is characterized by spending too much time on a computer or web-enabled device to the point where it starts to affect an individual’s relationships, finances, employment, health and more. People with “addictive personalities” are at-risk for becoming a little too attached to their internet-connected devices.

Like many other forms of addiction, internet addiction can cause excess dopamine in the brain, meaning it can give the user a sort of “high” when online. But once the person goes offline, he or she may feel withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, when away from the computer. When an internet-addicted individual is not on the computer, he or she may spend most of the time itching to get back online again.

Not only is an internet addict’s relationships and job and school performance suffering, but the individual will likely lose interest in non-online hobbies or pursuits. Additionally, the internet addict may become defensive or angry when someone else comments on his or her behavior. Internet addicts may even go out of their way to hide the extent of their usage.

Which Online Activities Are They Addicted To?

Certain online activities are ripe for becoming a timesuck. If one is not careful, one or more online pastimes may become the centerpiece of a person’s life.

So what are the activities that internet-addicted individuals are spending so much of their time on? It could be one or more of the following:

  • Online gaming
  • Social networking
  • Gambling
  • Trading stocks
  • Online forum and chat room usage
  • Reading and leaving comments on favorite blog and news websites
  • Dating site interaction
  • Online shopping
  • Pornography

How Widespread Is Internet Addiction?

Despite the increasing exposure to the internet and the ability to get online from virtually anywhere, internet addiction doesn’t appear to be an epidemic … yet.

It’s hard to gauge how common internet addiction is, and how to measure it, but here are a few stats that attempt to paint the picture:

  • A 2010 study in “The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse” found that the prevalence rate of internet addiction was as high as 8.2 percent among Americans and Europeans.
  • “Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment,” published in 2010, estimated that more than 18 percent of college-aged internet users may be addicted.
  • In 2010, the University of Leeds in England surveyed people between the ages of 16 and 51 and found only 1.4 percent of respondents were bona fide internet addicts.
  • According to Daily Mail, data published in late-2014 said that 7.1 percent of the population in Asia is addicted to the internet, a figure which includes 24 million children in China.
  • According to a 2014-15 survey in Taiwan, the prevalence rate of internet addiction among 1,100 respondents (mostly female) was 10.6 percent.

Drawing from all of the studies above, it’s probably safe to say that internet addiction affects less than 10 percent of people worldwide. However, you can also estimate that a reasonably higher percentage of young people would qualify for being internet addicted.

More on China’s Internet Addiction Problems

China is particularly seeing an affliction of internet addiction, especially among young males. In 2008, the most populated country declared internet addiction a clinical disorder, becoming one of the first nations to do so, according to Voice of America. Three years earlier, China had already begun combating the problem, opening its first of many military-style internet rehabilitation camps.

China’s threshold for what qualifies as internet addiction might seem quite low to some. When it was first categorized as a disorder, internet addiction in China meant someone spent more than six hours online (not work- or study-related) each day and felt bad when unable to access a computer. While that may seem like a low benchmark, China is nonetheless not joking around when it comes to the problem. It is just one of many countries that has been taking steps to curb heavy web usage, with South Korea being another prominent example.

Risks and Consequences of Internet Addiction

Although the internet offers ways to connect with people all over the world, the interactions are often superficial and rarely a substitute for real-life relationships. Besides potentially hurting relationships, finances and job status, internet addiction can negatively affect people in other ways, such as exacerbating or giving rise to mental health issues.

Back in 2008, Dr. Jerald J. Block conducted a study that concluded that 86 percent of internet-addicted individuals exhibited other mental health disorders. The mental health conditions that are sometimes linked with internet addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Psychosis
  • Hostility
  • Insomnia
  • Impulse control disorder
  • Substance use disorders, such as abuse of alcohol or prescription and illegal drugs
  • Suicidal thoughts

People who are addicted to the internet may also become malnourished due to poor eating habits, such as not eating often enough or consuming unhealthy snacks and meals that don’t take too much time away from the web and can be eaten while sitting at a computer. As you can imagine, since sitting or lying down is the most common position for internet surfing, someone who spends hours and hours online each day will see their physical health start to slide as well.

More on Depression and Internet Addiction

Medical experts have had trouble determining if depression leads to internet addiction or vice-versa. Either way, the worse the addiction gets, the more one’s depression is exacerbated, in most cases.

This can become a vicious cycle. Depression can tempt someone into retreating to a computer or internet-enabled device and staying there for hours on end. In other cases, the allure of the internet can keep a newer user online for hours to the point where they’re doing it every day, but as their connections and relationships with others start to fade, depression can begin to seep in. If a person’s internet usage is making depression worsen, it’s time to pull them out of the cycle and begin some form of therapy.

More on Suicidal Thoughts and Internet Addiction

You don’t have to search too hard on the web to find stories of people wearing diapers (especially for gaming) to keep their internet usage uninterrupted and others who have physically harmed themselves to try to pull themselves out of the digital timesuck.

These are unfortunate situations, but they hint at something direr than simply depression. Not only does web addiction closely relate to depression, but it gets even more serious: suicidal thoughts and actions.

The aforementioned Taiwanese study looked closely at the link between suicide and internet addiction. When comparing the internet-addicted respondents to the non-addicts, researchers found that internet addicts have:

  • A 47 percent higher rate of suicidal thoughts within a week
  • A 23 percent higher rate of lifetime suicide attempts
  • A 5 percent higher rate of suicides attempt within a year

Unsurprisingly, the same study also found that web-addicted individuals have a 65 percent higher rate of psychiatric morbidity, which means both physical and psychological decoration due to a mental condition.

How to Get Help for Internet Addiction

Couple Hugging Each Other Looking At Smartphones - ESEO

You’d be surprised at the number of ways you can treat internet addiction now, whether at home or in a professional environment. You don’t even have to fly to China to enter one of its rehabilitation boot camps!

If you know someone who exhibits many of the signs of internet addiction, don’t be shy in trying to redirect their attention to other hobbies or to help them seek professional treatment. As you just read, the consequences can even be fatal, in rare cases.

At-Home Options and Strategies

Software is available to help keep internet usage to a certain time constraint. Most of it is available for download online. It’s usually intended for parents and schools, but it will work for you if you’re trying to help a loved one with his or her web usage. Just do a search for “software to limit internet usage,” and you can read reviews and choose a product that works with your budget.

Also, if you’re a close friend or family member of someone who’s addicted to the web, it helps to model a healthy internet behavior to them. If you are on the web for several hours in a row too, or if you can’t finish a conversation with your loved one without checking your phone, it’s going to be hard to convince him or her to cut back. So, not only model appropriate web-usage behavior, but also try to encourage the person to frequently join you for social events, physical activities, etc.

Medical Treatment

Depending on the situation, a doctor or psychiatrist might prescribe certain medications to treat web addiction, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. Prescription drugs such as Lexapro, Vivitrol (an extended-release injection), Wellbutrin, and a Celexa-Seroquel combination all are options for treating internet addiction.

Counseling and Therapy

The internet addict should go through his or her insurance in order to find and start seeing a licensed psychiatrist. The struggling individual could also join a therapy group. Some 12-step programs do accept internet and tech addicts, by the way. Of course, group sessions should take place in person, rather than in chat rooms or other online areas.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has proven to be very effective when treating this type of condition. Led by a therapist, CBT helps replace addictive behaviors with something more positive and healthy. CBT can change thinking and behavior patterns, as well as give the patient some tools that will be useful throughout life.

Inpatient Treatment

If the situation is that grim or if group therapy isn’t working, you may want to look into residential treatment. Some hospitals and drug rehab centers offer programs for internet addicts. It’s still a relatively new process, but there should be a residential rehab center that will offer a little getaway from the digital world as well as expert guidance toward a healthier lifestyle.

Please share this article with your friends and loved ones to help spread awareness of the dangers of internet addiction.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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The Diet Food Misinformation Age

Hello ESEO Fans!

You know that we taDried fruit is badke care of you in every way that we can and with this post we want to highlight a major concern most of you planted at a desk daily deal with…….

“HOW DO I SIT ALL DAY AT WORK AND NOT GAIN WEIGHT?”

Well the answer is simple if you can find the time and discipline to exercise and eat right in your daily routine. Yes, I know that is VERY easy to say (type) and not so easy to do (de-butter). While you may not be able to find the time to do what you would like for yourself, you can avoid certain foods. That’s ideally the best place to start because you can’t exercise your way out of poor nutrition. Yes you know to avoid Cheetos (mmmmm) and soda, so we are going to take some time to tell you about a few foods you probably didn’t know to avoid.

Juice From Concentrate

There was a time when we were informed that orange juice was good for you and we all need a glass every morning. Nowadays things have changed quite a bit and we have gone past the information age and into the age of MISINFORMATION. Concentrated fruit juice has been filtered and extracted to make its form easier to store and ship while greatly extending the shelf life. During the filtration process chemicals and byproducts are added and subtracted to get the condensed version. This new “juice” has lost many of the vitamins and nutrients that made it the healthy choice it was before and worse yet been given additives to maintain the desired color and taste. What’s left is a glass of concentrated sugar water and food coloring that goes straight to your belly. Get natural juices, not from concentrate, which won’t spike your blood sugar to unnatural levels fooling your body in to thinking it needs to increase fat storage.

Soy Products

It has been touted for years that soy is nearly the perfect health food, again proving that MISINFORMATION is the norm. Over 90% of the soy beans from the United States are genetically modified and can cause a host of issues. Malnutrition, immune system breakdown, infertility, heart disease …… the list goes on and on. Everyone knows that genetically tampered foods are bad but even organically grown soy is full of anti-nutrients. The anti-nutrients in soymilk are soyatoxin, phytates, saponin, trypsin inhibitors, phytoestrogens and goitrogens. These all have adverse effects in the long term but there is also an immediate response your body has by releasing the “Hunger Hormone” Ghrelin. When you’re body needs nourishment it releases this hormone which affects the pleasure seeking region of the brain making you crave high calorie foods. Naturally Ghrelin levels fall when food hits your intestines and your body releases Leptin which in turn decreases your appetite and promotes calorie burning. The unfermented soy we consume increases Ghrelin levels making you feel the urge to eat even when you’re full while also diminishing your ability to burn calories.

Whole Wheat Breads

On your next trip to the grocery store look and notice that if wheat is added to any random item it’s highlighted and labeled as a healthy “Whole Wheat” MISINFORMATION product. Before you get those Whole Wheat Nutter Butters let’s think about how these could possibly be healthier. The gluten we get from modern wheat is completely different in structure due to decades of hybridization and selective breeding. The Glycemic Index (GI), which compares our blood sugar effects of carbohydrates, tells us that whole wheat will increase blood glucose more than pure sugar. So eating two slices of wheat bread isn’t so different than having a Snickers bar when you consider the sugar spikes. To add to that wheat is high in amylopectin A and gliadin which is converted to glucose faster than any other carbs and is also an appetite stimulant that can cause prolonged hunger feelings. When people quit eating whole wheat they typically eat 400 fewer calories a day because of the reduced exposure.

Fat Free Flavored Yogurt

Don’t fall for this major MISINFORMATION campaign. Fat free food isn’t health food because fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat. Those convenient little yogurt packs contain 15 grams of sugar and it’s usually High Fructose Corn Syrup sweetener. So eating these puts food in your body that 95% of it you can’t do anything with except convert to fat and nearly all the rest is waste. Toss these out and replace them with plain Greek yogurt and add your own fresh fruits and/or honey. Even the flavored yogurts with fruit chunks in them are packed with preservatives and sweeteners to extend the shelf life that in turn extend your waistline. Don’t let the bad information steer you away from real organic full-fat plain yogurt which is packed with positive affects when consumed in its healthier form.

Let’s Get Started on not Getting Incorrectly Started

So we just scratched the surface on some of the foods you should avoid and there are likely many, many others you may not know of. Margarine, dried fruit, trail mix, reduced fat peanut butter, veggie omelets, granola bars, sushi rolls and “Organic” snack foods are all out there and these foods are just some more examples of food that we are given MISINFORMATION on routinely. If you spend some time researching online before you make diet changes you won’t have to ask yourself “Why am I still gaining weight after switching to eating the healthy stuff?”.

P.S. If you want to read more on healthy living, check out our Eminent Healthy Living blog.