Technology has brought us some pretty incredible things. However, we know that too much of a good thing is very often a bad thing, leading to addiction.
Addiction is classified as compulsive behavior towards a specific habit or substance. One can’t stop cold turkey without feeling withdrawals, and they may experience relapses in the future. There are many, many forms of addiction that range from shopping to drugs and alcohol. Addiction to the internet and other virtual realities is becoming increasingly common.
The use of social media is now the number one online activity, some people spending more than six hours a day on their social feeds. Additionally, the emergence of augmented reality games like Pokemon Go has many parents concerned about virtual addiction.
Studies show that about 10 percent of all smartphone users may have an internet addiction. If you’re concerned that you or a family member may be addicted to the internet or other virtual realities, here are some signs to watch for.
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Hours of Virtual Alone Time
If you or a loved one spend hours completely alone with an internet-connected device, you may be looking at a virtual addiction. These gadgets supercede the need for human interaction, and it can form terribly unproductive and isolative habits.
Defensive When Confronted
A very common sign of addiction is getting defensive when confronted about a situation. If you accuse a family member of being addicted to or spending way too much time on the internet, they’ll automatically deny it. They may also turn it back on you and try to deflect the accusation. Though defensiveness can simply be a personality trait, when in combination with other signs on this list, it indicates addiction.
Suffering Work or School Performance
A virtual addiction will have a directly negative impact on performance in the real world. If grades or work performance are suffering, it may be a sign that the internet is taking over one’s ability to function properly. Oftentimes, it can result in being fired or failing school if it’s not dealt with in a timely manner.
A Separate, Virtual Life
Many people with virtual addictions will create a second, virtual life for themselves. They’ll develop new friendships and even love interests while online, even if they’re already committed to someone in real life. They may also create social media profiles that depict them living in a different town with a completely different lifestyle.
Sucked Into Computer Time
When a computer user gets so sucked into their time on the internet that they lose all track of time and/or can’t hear people in the real world, it’s a sign of a serious problem. Addiction will often manifest itself as totally taking over a person’s life, so much that they are no longer present in the real world.
Internet addictions can be just as serious as substance abuse. It can decrease functionality and tear lives apart. If you or someone you know is experiencing a virtual addiction, it’s paramount that you receive help immediately. The problems can be reversed if caught and handled early on.