Most of us spend too much time online, but how do we know when an excessive habit or favourite hobby has crossed the boundary into addiction?

Addiction is a fairly subjective term, and we never really understand how much we crave an item or feeling until it becomes temporarily or indefinitely unavailable. A true addict will then begin to display irrational behavioural patterns in order to feed the addiction and satisfy the craving.

The mental stimulation provided by the internet is said to be highly addictive. Our smartphones and other devices have become so important that they often take centre stage in our lives, making us more unsociable and creating a hyperreal sense of interaction via avatars and online profiles.

Given that not everything you discover online can be real or indeed trustworthy, it’s important to stay safe online. If you wish to learn more about how to stay safe online, there are numerous sites out there that carry significant authority in this field.

Depression

The feeling of disconnect associated with excessive internet use can lead to depression. When spending too much time playing online games, browsing social media, or shopping online, interaction with the real world becomes closed off, which can trigger feelings of loneliness.

It is also worth understanding that many people use social media to promote and exaggerate their quality of life, which can make others feel inadequate when they should not.

Anxiety

Like depression, the onset of anxiety can be triggered by the disconnect associated with excessive internet use.

If you’re spending the majority of your waking hours online, you’re less likely to experience regular interaction with people face-to-face. This can make public meetings and exchanges more difficult to manage, and people may begin to fear these situations and instead seek refuge online.

Avoidance of work

Getting work done can be difficult with the constant lure of the internet in the background, and most people, from students to CEOs tend to be guilty of procrastination from time to time.

However, there is a difference between spending the odd five minutes checking Facebook when you know you really should be working, and prioritising your internet use over your most important daily tasks. This is likely to result in poor working performance and disciplinaries as a result, making the aforementioned depression and anxiety even more likely.

Poor timekeeping

Have you ever lost track of time or forgot that you had to be somewhere? This is a common theme with internet addicts, who are more likely to leave important tasks until the last minute or be late for important appointments or meetings because they were glued to the web.

Excessive internet use may also lead to sleep related issues such as insomnia, which can affect productivity, mood, and the ability to work to a schedule.

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