Imagine your life in the virtual reality, where everything could be controlled with pressing a single computer button. Children would be taught while sleeping by a special computer program. Our thoughts, dreams and imagination would be stored and controlled by the machines. Our all life spheres would depend upon computers and Internet. It may sound crazy to you like it did sound unbelievable to people half a century ago that a thinking machine would be such an important piece of equipment in people’s lives some day.
Did you know that the computer industry is now the fastest growing industry in the world? With the invention of PC’s, a Worldwide Web was invented eventually. It is a wide source of information, entertainment and a way of communication. There are about 300 million of the Web users in the United States alone. It becomes a problem, however, when a person spends too much time at his or her PC with no control on the habit. It then can be identified as a pathological disorder.
As with all addictions , the main features of computer and Internet addiction are increased tolerance, loss of control on the use of a PC and signs of withdrawal. In general specialists say that a person, who spends much time at his or her computer and cannot control the habit, is probably addicted. In addition, if a person, who cannot get access to the Internet at least for an hour and starts feeling irritated and anxious, has most common signs of withdrawal.
Why are the Web and PC’s so addictive? Scientists try to find the reasons for the development of Internet addiction. There is a hypothesis that a screen of a computer or TV has hypnotic actions, especially when a person watches it for a longer time.
The mechanism of the occurrence of this impulse-control disorder is similar to that of gambling. A gambler needs a win to hang on gambling for a long time, if a person loses, he or she gets a feeling of dissatisfaction and tries to gamble the money back. For an Internet user, fulfillment must come soon, otherwise the user loses interest in the site. Therefore most of the Web sites are made very attractive for the surfers.
A 24-year-old man spends 12 or even more hours using his computer. He is a student, not an IT specialist. He mostly spends time chatting with people from all over the world in the discussion sites or playing computerized games. Sometimes, he misses the lectures because he spends most of his nights at the PC and is too tired to participate in the courses. His friends complain that he no longer plays basketball and refuses to meet up with them after school. The person’s only purpose is to use his PC and surf the Net. His friends ask why the Web is so attractive. What are the reasons for their friend playing electronic games constantly?
Chat rooms and computer games
Internet discussion sites, also called “the chat rooms”, are very catchy because they give enormous opportunities to people to be whatever they like; they are a chance for a person to be part of the group, which is impossible in the real world. Besides, people who are not self-confident in making relations in normal life usually find many friends on the Web. Contacts on the Internet are made without too much effort — there is no eye contact needed and no responsibility for the relationship. The danger, however, lies in the fact that such a person would not try to connect or make normal contacts with others in real life and Internet might become his or her new real world.
The reason why computerized games are so popular and addictive is that people have an opportunity to become super heroes that do not exist in normal life. Internet users create things, gamble, marry or even kill others on the Internet games. Sometimes they are so catchy that the habit interferes with people’s normal activities and social factors. Just like the above mentioned student, other students addicted to the Web also oversleep the lectures because they spend the nights playing the games, people who have family forget about their obligations to it and the needs of other family members. If players use the Web in the Internet cafés, they spend a lot of money on it. Exam marks therefore fall, relationships break and financial problems occur.
Internet/Computer addiction symptoms
When used properly, the computer and Net use have a lot of advantages and positive effects, however, when the habit becomes an addiction it no longer has any advantages. First of all there are symptoms of withdrawal when a person cannot access the Web. These symptoms usually include anxiety, depression, loss of mood, interest in anything else but the thing how to get onto the Internet as soon as possible.
Additionally, since a computer addict spends most of his or her time using the Net, other spheres of life of such a person become not important to him or her. A person with this disorder loses interest in his or her work, school, other activities, family and friends. Therefore social problems occur.
The computer use the cause of physical disorders
Even more, uncontrolled computer use causes certain physical disorders. People change their eating habits. They may eat at the computer or skip the meals at all. For example, a woman who spent a lot of time surfing in the chat rooms lost about 10 kilos over a month only because she would forget to eat since she was so occupied with discussions online.
There are also certain damages to the eyes due to watching a screen too long. Eyes get irritated, tired and dry. When a person spends too much time at a PC, he or she does not exercise, which is not healthy and may result in a significant weight gain. In addition, as the wrist gets a lot of physical exertion, carpal tunnel syndrome develops. It needs special surgical treatment.
How can you recognize computer and Internet addiction? Loss of control is one of the signs. It is shown by breaking the promises to other people or self to not use a PC. Another thing is lying to others about how much time you spend surfing the Web. Negative effects of constant use of a computer either in social, financial or physical spheres can occur. Internet becomes the only purpose and focus in one’s life. It is suspicious if a person feels both euphoria and guilt at the same time, while using the Internet. In addition, it is an important sign if an addict uses a PC as a form of relieve therapy, when he or she is sad, confused or irritated.
Internet and PC’s are a detachable part of our lives and modern world. However, we should notice the very early signs of pathological behavior and seek for help as soon as possible, because when untreated computer and Internet addiction could become a serious illness and big problem of our lives.