It’s a magnet for many. All of us know someone who texts too much or, simply cannot log off social media. I am married to one who thinks posting actually calms. I would beg to differ – and do. In fact, you may be reading this on Facebook right now. There’s a relatively new compulsive behavior gaining traction in this digital age: Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD).
Defined as excessive technology use that interferes with daily life; sufferer’s online time absorbs the day, resulting in neglected relationships, work, school, or other important things in life. If you can’t stop compulsive Internet behavior despite the negative consequences in your offline life, then it’s time to take another look at your online one. Like we need another thing to worry about right? But if it’s interrupting the kind of life you deserve – why not talk about it?
There are risk factors making some more vulnerable than others. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, lack of support or are an unhappy teenager, you are more susceptible to IAD. If you’re turning to the web to escape anxiety, stress, depression or just a bad day, there is a possibility you are using technology to deal with negative feelings.
As with any compulsive behavior, it is important to know the signs and symptoms. Losing track of time, isolating from loved ones, getting defensive about time spent in the planet digital can all be clues that there’s a problem at hand. One way to monitor yourself is to know the physical signs of IAD: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, strained vision, backaches and neck aches, severe headaches, sleep disturbances and pronounced weight gain or weight loss.
I spend a lot of time on social media to keep in touch with clients and long- distance friends and know first-hand how this can be comforting. But don’t forget there are healthier ways to keep stress at bay, and away. Exercise and meditation help me; sex soothes for many too. Even more important are the face to face personal relationships and support gleaned by the people around us. No tech will ever replace that.