Addiction comes in many forms

Addiction comes in many forms. I’ve chosen to focus on those that have grown alongside the internet. These are Social Networking, Internet Porn and On-line Gaming addictions.

Young people especially are known to suffer more than most. This raises concern about what problems we may be storing up for the future if we don’t get control of it now.

Social Networking addiction

Social Networking addiction is one of the more modern and perhaps most feared.

For instance, statistics in this area can shock:

  • UK adults spend an average of 8 hours 41 minutes a day on screens.
  • UK children spend 6 and half hours a day on screens.
  • The average user checks their smartphone every 12 minutes.
  • A 2016 study estimates that we tap, swipe and click on our devices 2,617 times each day.

As I mentioned in my Anxiety blog, Social media is designed to make you want more and more. If you have mental health issues, it can certainly reinforce them. Additionally it may create problems for anyone who leans towards an addictive personality. Hence it may be time for all of us to think about logging off.

Compulsive Checking

Social networking sites use tools designed to keep you coming back for more. Companies such as google and Facebook are good examples. If you search for a product on amazon, have you noticed that an advert for the same product appears on your facebook feed? This relies on  the FOMO (fear of missing out) and is  seen to be at the core of many platforms.

We all have a basic need for belonging and connecting with others.  Sadly, Social networking abuses this need.

From my experience

It’s so true! I know social media can make me feel unattractive, especially Instagram.  After all, it’s been voted ‘the worst social media platform’, for its impact on young people’s mental health. Why can’t we all look like that model in California that has a daily Instagram story?  It’s extremely addictive.

How often have you picked up a device to glance at something and lost an hour of your day. We look at one page, which links to another, then on to a youtube video………….

Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat can all be addictive. As much as you love a good scroll down, is it really worth all the damage it may be causing? Can you ever totally scratch that itch?

Internet porn addiction

Our grandparents would have had access to porn. (don’t linger on that thought) but in a very different format. For instance ‘Top-shelf magazines’ and ‘under-the-counter video tapes’ were probably the only things most would have been available to them. Therefore embarrassment of asking for a copy would have often been enough to stop grandad from taking his interest too far.

Today things are very different. A few clicks of the keyboard and almost anything is available. For some this becomes way to fulfil their needs in secret. After all, who will ever know?

Its often quoted that exposure to extreme porn at a young age can lead to teens having raised exceptions of real life relationships. It’s sad that some of these expectations can never be achieved in reality. Psychology today discusses the point in more detail.

This can affect your physical as well as your mental health

Some of the symptoms of porn addiction can be physical. Typically concentration problems and problems during sex. Whereas the psychological symptoms may be lack of motivation, social anxiety, emotional numbness and a lack of interest in real relationships.

sex addiction emoji

All sexual needs catered for

The wide range of porn available makes some extremes appear normal. If you see something shocking enough times, it fails to shock. What some people consider weird initially may become standard if they see it enough times. Frequent porn usage affects the way your brain functions. And for many addicts they cannot drag themselves away.

Gaming addiction is increasing

Psychiatrists warn about the link between depression and video game addiction. MRI scans reveal damage caused to young brains. I found this article in the Telegraph to be very informative.

A sufferer often withdraws from the real world and devote themselves to their gaming world. This eventually leads to the addict becoming obsessed with gaining status, levels or rankings.

keyboard in darkness

How do you identify addiction?

Sometimes addiction can be hard to define and even more difficult to identify. Especially if your friend or family member is trying  hard to hide their behaviour. After all, they may not even admit to themselves that they have a problem.

To help,  Psychiatrist Michael Brody,  defines an addiction as:

  1. The person needs more and more of a substance or behaviour to keep him going.
  2. If the person does not get more of the substance or behaviour, he becomes irritable and miserable.

What help is there?

If you’re reading this and need help here are some things you could take a look at: