Effects of Internet Addiction
Internet inception and continued use in the modern world today hasled to the addiction of the online services. Many people remain gluedto the screens of their gadgets, may it be smartphones, laptops anddesktop computers. If they are not surfing the internet, they aresending emails, chatting with friends on social media platforms orstreaming entertainment content (Young 32). This has had an impact onthe lives of people. Millions of people in the world can now accessthe internet making the world a global community with muchinterconnection and sharing of ideas. The technology industry hasmade this possible by creating various gadgets especially smartphonesin modern times. People spend too much of their time onlinedestroying both the socio-economic structures of the society. Theinternet generation comprising of mainly adolescents and young adultsare at higher risk of this addiction based on their pathologicalinternet use (Young 34). It should be noted that internet addictionhas negative impact on behavior, brain and body.
Internet addiction is regarded as a pathological social addiction. Inmany societies, this compulsive internet usage has been attributed tominimal family-social monitoring of internet usage especially forteenagers people with depression, low self-esteem, decreasedconnection with school and increased family conflicts (Yen et al.357) Internet addiction is also attributed to peer pressureespecially from habitual alcoholics, drug users and low socioeconomicstatus (Yen et al., 358).
In a study made in Taiwan among the 8941 adolescents, it wasconcluded that this age group had the highest vulnerability tointernet addiction (Yen et al. 358). Many adolescents from varioussocio-demographic and multidimensional factors listed above were morelikely to be trapped in cyberspace due to their intrigue andenthusiasm for online activities. It is very hard to control suchaddition from these persons due to their increased dependence on theinternet.
Internet Addiction and Brain Changes
Internet addiction has been attributed with various changes in thebrain cortex both in structure and function (Zhou et al., 93). Thesechanges and alterations mostly affect the parts of the brain involvedin emotional perception and processing, cognition, attentionexecution as well as decision making parts. To achieve this, variousresearchers analyzed the neuro-images of the various participantswith internet addiction. One main cerebral cortex change isstructural atrophy of the gray matter (Zhou et al., 93). Gray matterforms the inner parts of the brain containing numerous neurons andconnections where actual processing of stimuli and transmissionoccurs.
Many studies have shown reduction in size and loss of gray matter invarious participants involved in excessive gaming and internet usage(Zhou et al., 93 and Yuan et al., 45). The main parts that showedthese changes included the frontal lobes of the brain and thestriatum. Frontal lobe is involved in control of impulses, decisionmaking and planning while the striatum makes up part of basal gangliainvolved in emotional and reward control (Zhou et al., 93). Somestudies have shown Insula damage, a part of the brain involved incompassion and empathy. These people present with violent behavior,poor social relationships with family and friends (Zhou et al., 93).They are always inattentive, depressed easily, poor decision makersand with reduced esteem.
Another major change is loss of white matter integrity (Yuan et al.,46). The white matter of internet addicts appears spotty translatingto loss of various connections between lobes, hemispheres and higher(cognitive parts) and lower (emotional bed) cortical regions (Yuan etal., 57). This has a negative impact on the firing of the neurons aswell as interferes with connections between brain and the rest of thebody via the spinal tracts.
Internet addiction also causes reduced thickness of brain cortexespecially in frontal lobe (Yuan et al., 57). These addicts also haveimpaired cognition with reduced information processing and impairedimpulse control. There is also abnormal task performance andsensitivity to emotional centers is increased. This increasedsensitivity can be attributed to the increased cravings seen in thesepeople as well as the altered dopamine neurotransmission (Kühn etal., 54). These addicts show excessive dopamine release duringinternet usage or gaming activities which resembles that seen in drugaddicts.
Internet Addiction, Behavior and Body
Behavior of a person is partly shaped by the neuronal connections inthe brain and the environment (Zhou et al., 9). Due to the variousbrain changes discussed above, the internet addicts have been shownto have erratic behavior due to the functional and structural brainabnormalities. One major behavioral change is inattention and poorimpulse control (Zhou et al., 98). Most of the addicts fail toconcentrate in their studies, work and non-work related activitiesdue to their ardent attachment with the internet. They are alwaysscrolling and checking their phones and laptops even when working oreating (Young et al., 37). The consequence is reduced productivity inschool and work with many getting depression and low esteem.
Internet addicts also show poor performance in social relationshipsand school performance (Young 37). This is mainly attributed toexcessive time spent on the internet instead of other important taskssuch as schoolwork. They are always isolated in their own cyberspaces without need for socializing with their peers and familymembers (Yen et al. 358). They lack compassion, empathy and emotionalconnection with others based on brain changes in the striatum andInsula.
Many of the addicts show comorbid drug and substance abuse especiallyalcoholism (Yuan et al., 87). This is usually due to environmentalinfluence since many of the peers lack any tangible social life. Tofill this space they turn into drugs to keep calm and accepted. Theyalso have comorbid low esteem and depression due to impairedcognition, impulse control and planning.
Internet addiction has very negative consequences on the body. Due tothe very many hours spent on the internet gaming, surfing orchatting, the addicts present with many complications. They arealways sleep-deprived since they are awake for long, especially pastbed hours (Rodgers 56). This translates to fatigue and burn out andinherent medical problems attributed to immune depression. The timefor the body to heal and reconstruct is usually at night whensleeping. Lack of sleep then is a risk factor for contractingdiseases and poor healing (Rodgers 56).
Many internet users have bad feeding habits, either eatingexcessively or too little. Many of them are obese due to long hoursin the internet, in particular, the hackers and internet video gamers(Rodgers 57). Obesity has negative consequences on the cardiovascularsystem leading to atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction. It canalso lead to diabetes, stroke and other metabolic disorders. Internetusers with low caloric intake become anorexic, emaciated andunhealthy (Rodgers 57). All these affect the body systems instructure and in function.
In conclusion, there is need to curb the rising menace through properfamily-social monitoring of the internet, better connections inschool and home and proper parentage. Due to the less data present onthis field, more research is necessary to revisit the area ofinternet addiction just as other drug addictions. It is paramount toembrace technology in a good and productive manner. Otherwise, peoplemay end up becoming slaves of the technology.
Kühn, Simone, et al. "The neural basis of internet and videogaming." Translational psychiatry 1.11 (2011): e53. Print.
Rodgers, Rachel F., et al. "Internet addiction symptoms,disordered eating, and body image avoidance." Cyber psychology,Behavior, and Social Networking 16.1 (2013): 56-60.
Yen, Cheng‐Fang, et al."Multi‐dimensionaldiscriminative factors for Internet addiction among adolescentsregarding gender and age." Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences63.3 (2009): 357-364. Print.
Young, Kimberly S. "Internet addiction a new clinical phenomenonand its consequences." American behavioral scientist 48.4(2004): 402-415.
Yuan, Kai, et al. "Microstructure abnormalities in adolescentswith internet addiction disorder." PloS one 6.6 (2011): e20708.Print.
Zhou, Yan, Fu-Chun Lin, Ya-Song Du, Ling-di Qin, Zhi-Min Zhao,Jian-Rong Xu, and Hao Lei. “Gray Matter Abnormalities in InternetAddiction: A Voxel-Based Morphometry Study.” European Journal ofRadiology 79, no. 1 (July 2011): 92–95. Print.