When we think of addiction, some buzzwords come to mind – alcohol addiction, drug addiction even sex addiction. But very rarely do the words “internet addiction” come to our minds with the very serious tone they deserve.
A team of researchers from the University of Hong Kong began by searching online databases for previous academic papers.
They specifically searched for papers that referenced terms such as internet addiction and dependency, and online and net addicts. From this they chose 80 global studies, covering reports of web addiction across 31 nations in seven regions.
This included the US, Australia, Austria, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Iran, Isarel, Lebanon, Turkey, China, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Columbia.
As part of these past studies, a total of 544 participants were surveyed about their internet habits.
There was almost a 50/50 split between the genders – 49 per cent were male – and the average age was 18.42 years.
The review of the literature found that the rate of addiction across the nations studied was at 6%. That comes to an estimated over 182 million people worldwide. Interestingly, the key areas studied varied significantly:
- Middle East: 10.9%
- North America: 8%
- Asia: 7.1%
- South and East Europe: 6.1%
- Oceania: 4.3%
- North and West Europe: 2.6 per cent.
- South America: 0%
We know a lot about the other addictions, but we don’t know a lot about internet addiction… What are the signs? How do we manage it? There are logical solutions for alcohol and drug addiction but the internet is a little trickier. We’re slowly developing a culture where the internet is at the centre point. It is how we communicate, get our news, relax, work and even monitor our health – so it is almost impossible to quit cold turkey.
According to the Daily Mail, the following are the key questions to ask of yourself or someone else if you suspect them of internet addiction:
- Do you ignore and avoid other activities to spend more time using devices?
- Do you think about being online when you are offline?
- Do you feel criticised by others about the amount of time they spend online?
- Do you feel tense or bad if you can’t get online – a feeling which noticeably goes away when you are allowed to get back online?
It is a scary thing, addiction, but based on the way the internet is already an integral part of our lives, it could be one of the worst ones.
Tell us, how often do you use the internet? Have you ever suspected a family member – even a grandchild – to have internet addiction?