Are you dependent on technology to bring you satisfaction in life? Dependency can be playing video games to escape reality, posting to social media to get attention or validation, compulsive online spending when anxious or bored, or visiting dating sites with the hopes of meeting the love of your life. Are there noticeable negative patterns surrounding your computer or internet activities? Are they causing problems in your relationships or affecting your work performance? Most of the time, these addictions are just distractions to real issues that people are not yet ready to face. They may feel anxious, impulsive or unfulfilled in life. These activities produce a “high”, filling a void and bringing pleasure that lasts momentarily. Overtime, these addictions have negative consequences that outweigh the positive feelings experienced. They can also have long-term negative effects on many areas of our lives.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research has shown that certain people are more
susceptible to computer or internet addiction. These individuals include; those who have had prior addictions to other behaviors or substances; a history of depression or anxiety; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; or Low self-esteem. Recovering computer addicts reported feelings of euphoria when using the computer and feelings of depression, unfulfillment and irritability when not using it. They also described feeling withdrawn or neglected by family and friends as well as experiencing many of the following; creating secret relationships over the internet; having family and friends complaining about their behavior; lying to hide computer activities; consistently using the computer at work for non-related work activities; and the inability to stop computer or internet use despite the negative consequences it has at home or at work.
Like all addictive behaviors and impulse control problems, computer and internet addiction can be controlled. Many people can use self-discipline to manage the behavior while others may need the help of a professional. Some good tips on controlling your computer and internet addiction include arranging your schedule to allow time to participate in technology activities. When bored, find replacement activities to keep you mind off wanting to binge on the computer. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed with irrational thoughts and start researching online to validate your concerns. Be prepared for possible relapses and reverting to old habits. Once you realize you are falling off the wagon it’s important to stop, refocus, and get back on track. If you or a loved one have a computer or internet addiction, TCP Marriage & Family Services is here to help you take control of your life again. For more information on our services, please call our office at (210) 516-2607 or visit our website at: