Addictions related to Internet use: what they are and how to recognize them

In collaboration with: UnoBravo

Contemporary society is increasingly connected, thanks to increasingly sophisticated technological tools, which make extensive use of the internet. Beyond more or less provocative questions about who the real users are, whether humans or devices that today seem to monitor every aspect of their owners’ lives, what we want to examine here is the nature of the link between the internet and the Internet user . In fact, this relationship seems to be taking the form of an authentic dependency, much more widespread than others in the contemporary world and, last but not least, capable of taking on different forms.

Internet addiction: many nuances

Behind the constant use of the internet there is a network of problems that can arise if internet users insistently cross certain limits. Internet users can actually encounter various types of addictions, some of which are potentially dangerous, such as those from substances such as tobacco and alcohol. What changes is obviously the object of the addicted subject’s desire: in this case it is not a question of a physical product, such as a cigarette or a bottle of alcohol, but of a product connected to a commonly used tool, such as a PC, tablet or smartphone.

The Internet has a lot to offer, it’s true, but between social networks, watching movies and enjoying content, it’s impossible for some Internet users to stop. Thus, the contemplation and critical use of the potential of the network give way to an authentic obsession, with related addiction and therefore the development of an addiction. Furthermore, the variety of possibilities offered by the network is the basis for the development of various forms of addiction, including:

• Virtual sex addiction: a digitally driven form of hypersexuality (sex addiction), linked to the availability of sexual material on the internet.

• Online shopping addiction: An addiction that is addictive when it takes the form of an uncontrollable and compulsive obsession.

• Information search addiction: This form of addiction is typical of anyone who cannot control their urge to search for information on the internet, regardless of the object of interest.

• Addiction to virtual relationships: it stands out as the tendency of those who prefer to establish online relationships only and exclusively, using their own social network and typical network resources.

• Addiction to online gambling: daughter of gambling addiction, whose numbers are constantly increasing in Italy, is linked to the greater diffusion of online gambling portals.

It is worth specifying that these forms of addiction can potentially affect anyone, above all because internet access devices are now within everyone’s reach, and much more widespread than drugs, alcohol, tobacco and other substances with which the idea of habituation and addiction. Although risk groups have emerged, such as young university students, single men and middle-aged women, it is clear that indiscriminate access to the Internet is a factor that should not be underestimated. The most obvious consequences range from irritability to tiredness, passing through the most common mood swings.

In conclusion, the web is a land full of resources and dangers, especially if you don’t know a sense of limits and, out of boredom or lack of self-control, you end up abusing the time you spend online. Carefully managing one’s behavior and one’s connection with any external resource is vital, to maintain one’s well-being and serenity.