Some call it the opium for the masses, others consider it to be a distraction, and for some people it is a mere necessity. In any case, the Internet is a peculiar phenomenon that has affected the entire humanity. When dosed properly, the access to online information has the power to initiate powerful changes in people, mainly because it offers an ability to learn everything the user is interested in. On the other side, the Internet also has a power to lead to complete apathy. Addiction starts from harmless entertainment which leads towards a constant habit, taking the Internet user to real addiction – the price that people from all generations are paying today.
All types of addiction can be seen as complex psychological processes that push people towards frequent undertaking of particular activities. In the absence of the substance or object that caused the addiction, the person feels discomfort and a strong desire for the particular behavior. The excessive usage of the Internet is a form of addiction that has been taking a swing ever since online resources started defining people’s lives. In addition to all positive aspects of Internet usage, people also face serious consequences when their enthusiasm crosses the limits of useful. The negative effects of Internet access are visible when the entertaining aspect prevails over the need for knowledge and useful information. The entertainment industry caters to the users’ need to relax after a hard day of work.
There is no clear agreement in literature about the different types of Internet addiction present today. Nevertheless, cyber connection is considered to be among the most notable types of addiction. This behavior is characterized with compulsive development of virtual connections, which may or may not lead to in-person encounters. Cybersex can also lead to a serious form of addiction, distinguished by compulsive online viewing, sharing, or storage of pornographic content. Intensive online research for various types of information may seem like harmless behavior that satisfies people’s desire for knowledge, but it can lead to another type of addiction that deteriorates from the initial motif of professional or personal interest. Other types of Internet addiction include: compulsive online shopping, gaming, and compulsive need for new technology devices.
When Internet turns into addiction, there is no longer space for its educational role. Social media networks are among the greatest culprits that turn the online environment into an addictive object. The freedom of action enables Internet users to feel independent and uninfluenced by their daily problems. The ability to remain anonymous enables people to present themselves in a different light, which hides the reality and emphasizes imaginary qualities. This virtual personality leads towards alienation from the real world, as well as a complete identity crisis.
When Internet usage turns to an addiction, it is marked by the impulse control disorder – an inability to control desires and resist the desire to repeat actions that lead to satisfaction (in this case, those actions involve accessing the Internet). Any attempt for withdrawal leads to anxiety and obsessive thoughts and desires for online connection. When the internet is being used as a way to escape from real problems and reduce stress, it always involves the danger of addiction.