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There is a dispute amongst researchers and professional bodies whether compulsive internet use can be considered as an addiction in comparison with other process addictions such as: gambling, and shopping addictions. It is complicated due to our relationship with the internet.

To put you in perspective In order to write this blog, I am using the internet to provide the platform in order to accomplish the task of writing this blog. It has taken time out of my day to write this blog and interfered in my communication with others in order to get the job done. We are constantly using the internet for all sorts of purposes, so when does it reach a threshold of verging on addiction?

Although there are no formal diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction, four components are widely seen as being essential to such a diagnosis if such a diagnosis can be formulated (Block, 2008):

  1. Excessive use of the internet in which the user loses sense of time and/or neglects basic human drives such as hygiene etc..
  2. When some sort of withdrawal symptoms such as feelings of; anger, depression and anxiety are observed when one is not using the internet.
  3. When a Tolerance is developed in which the user requires better tech in order to achieve a faster internet connection, more software and in general to improve the experience whilst on the internet.
  4. When adverse consequences arise due to the spending excessive time on the internet such as increased; arguments, fatigue, social isolation and lying behaviours arise.

Three factors: access, affordability, and anonymity is the internet’s advantages which individuals use to their advantage. These advantages  can be used in positive or negative ways. Recent research also stated that the first thing that most people do when waking up is actually checking out their social media accounts. Thus we live in an age where our media presence is important to us. This continuously indicates how susceptible we are to developing compulsive internet use behaviour.

More to follow…

Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on karl@willingness.com.mt.