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Warning: Internet overkill?

October 2, 2012

Australian psychologists are welcoming the addition of “internet use disorder” to the latest addition of a worldwide psychiatric manual.

Internet use becomes an addiction when it starts to significantly affect other aspects of life such as real-life intimate relationships or friendships, finances, job or study performance, or general wellbeing.

There are currently particular concerns around children who are unable to “switch off”.  This parent’s story is indicative:

Kara Wright was so concerned her 12-year-old son, Jack, had an internet addiction, she banned him from using the laptop over school holidays.

After playing the computer game Minecraft for an hour on his laptop, Jack would become frustrated, angry and often cry, Ms Wright said.

”It is only when he is using technology that those emotions emerge,” Ms Wright, who lives Caloundra in Queensland, said. ”It had a huge impact on the family.”

Everyone has hobbies that they enjoy, and some may see these concerns as an attempt to demonise technology.  It’s important to remember that there is a big difference between casual use and the characteristics of addiction.  Here’s some of the signs to look out for:

  • Do you have difficulty controlling the impulse to use?
  • Do you spends excessive amounts of time engaged in the Internet activity to the detriment of other tasks or commitments?
  • Have you lost contact with family and usual friends, and feel more connected with online friends?
  • Do you hide or lie about computer use for fear of disapproval, being told off, shame or fear of being misunderstood?

If any of this is sounding familiar, it’s good to talk about it.

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