“Internet addiction” sounds like something to joke about, right?
It sounds like one of those things that we shouldn’t do but we totally do anyway– like speeding a little, forgetting to floss, or drinking one glass of wine too many. We shouldn’t be addicted to our phones… but as a general rule, we totally are! And because overreliance on technology has been normalized as a thing that everybody does, we might feel as though there’s no need to worry about our relationship with our phones.
But studies show that an internet addiction is actually a pretty serious thing and it’s a habit we need to break– starting with our phones! So, in this article, we’re going to take a closer look at internet addiction and what you can do if you need to tell your phone, “It’s not me– it’s YOU!”
What is Internet Addiction?
When we hear the word “addiction,” we typically envision a serious and unhealthy dependence on a harmful substance. For example, we totally understand that an addiction to drugs, alcohol, pornography, or gambling can destroy lives. But does internet addiction really fall into the same category? You might be surprised to learn that it absolutely does! In fact, spending too much time on our phones can literally alter our brain chemistry!
That’s because internet addiction disorder is a serious mental health disorder that transcends a typical dependence on phones. Because so many facets of our lives can be controlled from our phones– from business meetings to play date organization to online shopping– we all have to be on our phones for a certain amount of time. But if you’re on your phone way more than you have to be and you can’t seem to make yourself stop, that’s when it becomes a problem.
What Are The Symptoms of Internet Addiction?
So, how can you tell an internet addiction apart from normal phone usage? Here are a few key symptoms that typically stand out:
- You feel really anxious when you’re away from your phone– and you only feel better once you have your phone again
- Every time you use your phone, you spend more time on it than you originally planned
- You would rather spend time on your phone– scrolling through Facebook or Tik Tok or playing games online– than engage in real-life activities
- You frequently neglect your responsibilities or personal commitments because you spend too much time on your phone
- You use your phone and/or the internet as an escape from your problems
- Your friends and family regularly tell you that your phone usage makes them feel neglected or devalued
Although this is not a comprehensive list of symptoms, most of these symptoms are typically present in someone who is experiencing a phone addiction. However, as we catalogue these symptoms, it’s also important to make note of a few other critical details. For starters, internet addiction can affect anybody of any age, race, or gender at any time. Internet addiction is also not limited to your phone; you can develop an internet addiction that centers around your iPad, your laptop, or any other device. But the sheer accessibility of our phones makes it easier for us to treat them as a one-stop hub for all our electronic needs– and, therefore, it’s easier to get addicted.
It’s also important to acknowledge that experiencing a few of these symptoms on occasion does not mean you have a problem. Everybody has gotten lost in a TikTok rabbit hole at one time or another and everybody has used their phone as an excuse to avoid someone in real life. Neither of these behaviors are inherently problematic when they happen every now and then. But if your phone usage is taking over your life and you feel like your phone is controlling you, it’s definitely a sign of a deeper problem.
How to Break Up With Your Phone
So, if you’ve come to the end of this article and you feel like these symptoms apply to you, you may want to take a look at some next steps that can help. Let’s think of them as a break-up guide for your phone. You can reclaim control and set some boundaries with your phone by doing a few key things:
Step One: Take an Internet Addiction Test
As is the case with any addiction, admitting you need help is the first and most important step! So, if you’re ready to take that step, you can start by taking this free internet addiction test from Mind Diagnostics. This self-guided assessment will ask you to evaluate your symptoms and the best part is that it’s totally confidential. If you’re not ready to ask someone else for support yet, this is your opportunity to be honest with yourself about your symptoms in a safe and judgement-free space. So, don’t be afraid to take a good, hard look at your symptoms and think critically about your next steps.
Step Two: Find an Accountability Partner
Once you’ve taken an internet addiction test and learned more about your symptoms, the next step is to seek support from someone who can help you break your addiction. A friend or family member who lives near you can be a great source of support because they’re likely to see how often you’re on your phone and help you stay accountable.
You can also seek the support of a therapist who is qualified to treat internet addiction. At the end of every Mind Diagnostics test, you’ll be provided with more information about your results and the contact information for a qualified mental health professional. So, if you’re ready to seek help from a licensed therapist, you should know that there are lots of qualified counselors who are ready to support you through your battle with internet addiction.
When you feel like an addiction is taking over your life, it can feel scary and isolating. But you’re not alone! Multiple resources are available if you need support and you absolutely can get through this!