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Are you an internet addict?

With rising number of users in US getting addicted to the internet, is India too on the same path?

Written by Agencies |Updated : February 26, 2014 4:08 PM IST

internetaddictionDo you stay up late at the night using the internet? Are you grumpy or anxious when you can't log on? Do you need to use the internet to feel satisfied? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be suffering from internet addiction. 'In recent years, the medical community all over the world has come to slowly accept that internet use leads to addiction.. And both video games and internet addiction are now well recognised mental health disorders,' says Dr Hemant Mittal, neuro psychiatrist.

Am I addicted?

The addiction is characterised by excessive use, and symptoms include changes in mood, preoccupation, inability to control the amount of time you spend on the internet, and diminishing social life. 'It leaves you with depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety. By the time a person realises it, it's too late to get rid of the addiction. I have patients eating in front of their laptops. In bizarre cases they have the urge to be online even in the washroom,' says Seema Hingorrany, a city-based clinical psychologist.
'The most important sign of addiction is that your mind is constantly thinking about what's happening on Facebook, Twitter... and this thought doesn't calm down until you get online,' adds Hemant.

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Virtual demands

'Too much surfing on the Internet or using social networking sites also means that the person is looking for self-gratification from a virtual source,' says Dr Sunita Dube, Aryan Hospital. She says that addicts start feeling low when their 'posts' fail to get desired number of 'likes' or comments, or retweets. 'We all want to be appreciated. And virtual media gives us that opportunity. We have unseen friends who 'like' us and help boost our confidence,' Sunita adds.

Seema says that people who have social phobia and low confidence are seen more online as it is an easy way to escape face-to-face interaction. 'Also, people with low self esteem, poor body image, or untreated sexual dysfunction can get addicted for a sexual outlet,' she adds.

The consequences

The experts say that excessive social media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. 'High preoccupation with what's happening online decreases ability to concentrate on work and studies, leading to memory problems and decreased performance,' adds Hemant. Addicts spend more and more time online, losing on social interactions. 'Relationships are affected due to this addiction. Nowadays people hardly have time for each other and Internet eats into this time,' says Sunita. Many spouses complain about their partner spending too much time online. (Read: Addicted to Facebook?)

Face the problem

'We should be aware of these symptoms, keep track of our behaviour, thoughts and emotions. We should think about why we use the Internet so much and try to find the real problem instead of living in virtual world,' advises Seema. Experts also suggest that one should try to spend as much time as possible with their loved ones. 'Indulge in physical activities, to reduce the fear of obesity. Interaction with family and friends can solve the problem as it cheers up a person and fights depression,' says Sunita.


  • Changes in mood
  • Pre-occupation with the internet and digital media
  • Inability to control the amount of time spent using digital technology
  • The need for more time or a new game to achieve a desired mood
  • Withdrawal when not engaged with digital technology
  • Diminishing social life
  • Adverse work and academic consequences

Tips to beat internet addiction


Admit it. You are addicted to the net. It gives you the same rush, the same heady high of that first cigarette of the day. Admission is the first step to rehabilitation. This applies to any kind of addiction.

Be honest with yourself

Your virtual life has taken over your real life. In fact, you end up thinking I need to update/upload this on my profile. Your need to take perfect holiday pictures overrules the actual enjoyment of the holiday. You need to focus on staying in the present.

Think before you go online

Pause to think before you go online next time what am I looking for? Why am I here? Making a mental note about what you plan to do once you are logged on gives you a direction to follow. Make a physical note if you must.

What did you do online?

Reflect on what you did once you went online. Did you just view your Facebook account. Or did some window shopping on e-commerce sites? Find out where you're wasting your time.

Stop wasting time

Decide beforehand the time limit you will spend on the net. Keep it to a minimum of 20 minutes. Twice a day should suffice.

Ignore smart phone notifications

Our smart phones have literally become our third appendage. You don't have to check every single thing out. Just shut off the notifications from time to time.

With inputs from DNA

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