Internet addiction

Like a fish in water on caught on the net?

The use of the internet is absolutely necessary when one is studying. For many, the internet also serves as their television, newspaper, radio, movie theatre, music player and game console. Friends share the latest news about their lives and leisure plans easily online, and social media helps us to stay in touch with those closest to us.

It is possible, however, to get caught up online for a longer time than one originally intended. An online game can, for example, make you lose track of time, or an online discussion might be so interesting that you just wouldn't like to stop. The internet can affect the use of time or concentration in such a way that it actually has a detrimental impact on one's daily rhythm, relationships or studies.

The use of the internet during your free time naturally decreases when life brings along something more interesting, or there are changes in your personal life that affect your online behaviour. Sometimes, outside help may be required to change one's internet habits, in terms of, for example, the allocation of time or use of unfavourable websites.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN ANALYSING YOUR OWN INTERNET HABITS?

Good! Now you can go online (!) and select http://netaddiction.com/.

Take your time and analyse your own situation by honestly answering the IAT (Internet Addiction Test) questions. If you get a score of less than 19, your use of the internet is OK, but you might still spend some time thinking about ways to further improve your situation.

If you score 19-49, take time to consider the following additional questions:

  • How many hours do you generally spend online each week other than on your work or studies?
  • What types of applications are you most often using? Do you continuously visit specific websites?
  • In what order of importance would you place those sites which you most often visit or in which you spend the
    majority of your time?
  • What do you like most about those sites? Is there anything about those sites that might be harmful to you?
  • How has the internet changed your life? Consider the possible benefits and drawbacks of the internet, as well
    as the threats and possibilities.
  • What are your thoughts and feelings in those moments when you most feel the need to go online during your
    free time?
  • How do your family and friends feel about your use of the internet? Are they concerned about anything?

If you repeatedly spend more time online than you intended to or certain sites are becoming a problem for you and/or those close to you, it means you are probably addicted to one of the following time-consuming online habits:

  • GAMING, such as MMORPG games or gambling games, e.g. poker
  • SEXUAL ACTIVITIES, such as excessive viewing of porn or online dating
  • SOCIAL MEDIA, such as a constant need to check Facebook updates
  • SURFING, either aimlessly to pass the time or checking out specific sites
  • FOLLOWING THE NEWS, such as continuously visiting the websites of the afternoon papers

Here are some ways for you to analyse your online behaviour:

Return to http://netaddiction.com/ and familiarize yourself with the articles and other material offered. You can also keep diary of your internet use to record when and why you are most prone to go to net. If you want to decrease the time you spend online, make an agreement with yourself as to when and for how long you will spend time in the internet during your free time. Fill in the journal regularly for, say, one week in order to see when, for how long and why you use the internet - this alone may help you to cut back on the time you spend in the internet.

Make a list of the things you like and which you remember doing before you started to spend a lot of time in the internet. Think of the people with whom you used to spend your free time. Could you reintroduce some of the interests on your list to become a more active part of your life? What interests or relationships could you start with?

Write down the benefits, disadvantages, possibilities and risks involved in using the internet. This will help you to identify the ways in which the internet has been or could be a positive tool for you, and what aspects of internet use might be wise to cut back on. Focus, in the future, on those online behaviours that seem to be of a true advantage for you.

You are also welcome to discuss any issues related to your use of the internet or any other concerns with student health care professionals, teachers providing guidance and counselling services at your university, study counsellors or student psychologists.

Text: Marjo Kokko


Key words: Internet addiction