The internet is everywhere. The vast majority of Americans have it available in their hands 24/7, on smartphones and tablets. Often, even if you have turned off your own device, someone right next to you is scrolling or gaming and making it difficult to resist turning it back on.
Gaming used to be limited to desktop computers and consoles, but the amount of portable games you can play has increased exponentially in the last twenty years. Video games can be addictive in any format, but the advent of mobile gaming has made it much easier to ignore the real world and escape into fantasy. Some symptoms of video game and mobile gaming addictions include: anxiety, agitation and depression if unable to play, lack of interest in other activities, avoidance of social activities outside of multiplayer gaming, losing track of time while playing, and overspending.
Have you found yourself locked in a loop of endless scrolling, or searching for the “perfect” post that will get you the most “likes”? Do you check your phone for new messages or photos while you’re spending time with someone?
Facebook, twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Kik- there’s an endless list of apps available for communicating with other people over the internet. The problem is that most of this communication pulls you out of face-to-face social interactions that are far more meaningful and rewarding. The link between social media and depression has been well-documented in research studies, but the number of people becoming addicted continues to grow.
I list pornography as an internet addiction because of the easily accessible, overwhelming amount of content available on the web. Having porn just one click away has dramatically reduced the amount of time it takes for an occasional user to become a fully developed addict. Internet porn is a unique addictive stimulus that combines the physical reward of sex with searching/scrolling, novelty, shock, disgust, anxiety, etc. The brain links these actions and feelings together and makes pornography more intense and harder to resist.
Some people claim that porn addicts just have high sexual desire and that there are no negative effects of porn use. In reality, many research studies have shown that heavy users of pornography have less satisfaction in relationships, decreased interest and arousal with sexual partners, and Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunctions. See more information at Your Brain on Porn.