Substance abuse and addiction are major issues that every state and community are battling. When society thinks about addiction they often imagine the most grotesque versions that they have witnessed through entertainment or popular society. The truth is that addiction is all around and in every facet of society. Addiction is much more than drug or alcohol abuse. Addicts can suffer addictions to sex, drugs and other activities. These activities become addictions when they interfere with other aspects of their lives. Currently, on Indiana college campuses, a new type of addiction is taking hold; problematic internet use. This issue is understood to be manifested when an individual is unable to reduce their internet use and/or develops behavioral problems.

New Study on Problematic Internet Use

A new study on problematic internet use was conducted by various college professors and students. The study found that those suffering from problematic internet use suffered from a variety of mental health issues. These issues include: depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, hostility and social phobias among other issues.

How to Measure Problematic Internet Use

The study was conducted on college students who spent more than 25 hours a week on the internet. These students must have also dealing with one or more social issues; like relationship conflicts. Almost half of the focus group had reportedly been problematic internet users. They expressed feelings of depression, moodiness when trying to stop, inability to limit access, and lying about internet use. Another forty percent of the focus group were labeled possible problematic internet users. These individuals tested very high on the scale of problematic internet use. This scale included trouble stopping, sleep deprivation, neglecting responsibilities, irritability, frustration, and restlessness. Information was gathered by conducting conversations with the focus groups orchestrated by a facilitator.

Conclusion: Both Negative and Positive

At the conclusion of the study the researchers found both negatives and positives from problematic internet use. The team found three key themes during their discussions; family correctness, family conflict and internet use among other family members. Students expressed a major positive of internet use in that it allowed them to stay connected with their families. Students away from home in college can often feel home-sick. Phone calls and texting simply are not enough to keep those lonely, depressed nights at bay. Thanks to software like Skype, college students can remain connected with their families, providing them with more security while away in school. Although there was discussion on the positives of internet use, most of the conversation conducted was negative. Some of the students reported that internet use had come between them and their families. When at home on break they stated that the internet distracted them from enjoying the time together. Many of the students discussed the internet use of their family members. Several students have siblings that were “addicted” to video games. They believe that their lives are controlled by video games. Others have parents that are constantly on their smartphones checking Facebook.

Problematic Internet Use

All across the country citizens are at risk for problematic internet use. It is difficult to go ten minutes without checking your phone. Our nearly constant connection with the internet can have very damaging effects on our behavior. Students should try to limit the time they spend on the internet to school necessary usage. Any other free time they are given should be spent interacting with other students face to face. There is a real danger to our society if it continues in this way. Face to face interaction is a pivotal part of everyday life that seems to be getting pushed back. Internet abuse can lead to several behavioral problems that will challenge college students’ ability to interact with the world outside of college.

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