Internet dependence is a term for excessive use of the Internet to the detriment of your physical, psychological, social, or vocational well-being. As a college student, you likely utilize the Internet as a source of information and entertainment on a daily basis. Most use it on a regular basis without becoming dependent upon it. However, for some, involvement on the Internet begins to have serious, negative consequences. When such consequences are minimized or ignored while Internet use increases, Internet dependence is occurring. As of 2022, it is estimated that up to 8% of users are Internet dependent. Excessive Internet use may revolve around social media, pornography, blogging, gambling, gaming, shopping, or any number of other online activities.
Who Becomes Dependent on the Internet?
Anyone can become dependent on the internet. Like other compulsive activities, internet viewing can distract you from uncomfortable emotions. Internet dependence occurs for males and females as well as members of all races, ethnicities, religions, and cultures. However, certain factors contribute, both directly and indirectly, to a greater likelihood of dependence. If you have a history of impulsive or compulsive behaviors, for example, you may have more difficulty than others resisting various forms of gratification available online. Similarly, if you are shy or socially anxious you may prefer the relative comfort and anonymity of cyber-relationships. Those with large blocks of unstructured time on their hands are more susceptible to Internet dependence than those whose free time is very structured and limited. For this last reason alone, as a college student you may be particularly at risk for developing Internet dependence.
Signs of Internet Dependency
If you are concerned with your or a loved one’s internet use, the following are common warning signs for being at risk for Internet dependence:
- You are spending more and more time online.
- You are spending less and less time with friends or family.
- You feel preoccupied with Internet activities and the next online session.
- You feel restless or irritable when not online.
- You lie about Internet usage or tried to conceal it from friends, family members, or others.
- Your sleep or physical health is being affected by Internet usage.
- Your academic and/or work performance is being compromised by Internet usage.
- You use the Internet as a way of avoiding those around you.
- You use the Internet as a way of escaping from feelings.
- You have been unsuccessful in attempts to cut down on Internet usage.
If you or a loved one is suffering from Internet dependence, please consider seeking help. Professional counseling has been shown to be effective in treating Internet dependence and may help you to develop a healthier relationship with the Internet.
HOW TO GET HELP
Free, confidential help is available by calling the Counseling Center at 610-519-4050.
SELF ASSESSEMENT TOOL
For informational purposes only, the University Counseling Center offers access to online, anonymous Self-Assessment Tools. These resources are provided by third-parties unaffiliated with Villanova and the results are not shared with the University. These screenings are not a substitute for a complete evaluation by a qualified mental health professional. For personal assistance, please call the Counseling Center at 610-519-4050 for an appointment.