The Internet offers us so much — content, entertainment, news, educational, socializing and much more. For most users, it plays a significant and positive role in their daily life, helping to save time, help with school work, enabling family and friends to stay in touch more frequently. However, there is a downside to the Internet and it is important to be aware of the risks in blindly spending time online without being aware of how it can affect daily life.
An unexpected result of rapid integration of Internet technologies into all parts of life is a growing phenomena of a compulsive need to be online.
How Do you Know if You are Addicted to the Internet?
Many people will joke about it. They open Facebook before they get out of bed. They Tweet everything they do during the day, they are online browsing for hours at a time. But are those jokes pointing at something that could be serious – a real Internet Addiction Disorder?
The Internet has so many uses today, it is easy to mistake frequent use for being a problem. But is also easy to make problematic use seem normal. You need it for school, for work, to check the weather, to read the news, to talk to co-workers, to send pictures to friends, to organize a party. So of course you are online all of the time.
In fact, there are people who are on the Internet all day – more than they are NOT on the Internet, but they are not addicted. It is not just a question of how much time you spend online. An Internet Addiction diagnosis requires certain criteria are met. For example: Preoccupation with the Internet, increasing need to be online more, an inability to stop using the Internet, feeling restless or anxious when not online, remaining online longer than you actually intended, interference with other activities like socializing, family events or spending time online in place of working or studying. These are some criteria used to determine if someone as an actual addiction disorder.
Can a Web Filter Cure Internet Addiction?
No matter how old you are, what you do in your life and what you think about the Internet, a web filter can protect
you against developing an online addiction. The emphasis is on prevention, not a cure. It can also be part of the cure, but therapy or some kind of outside assistance may be required for someone who has developed a strong dependence on Internet use.
Anyone who uses the Internet is at risk of becoming dependent but of course not everyone will develop unhealthy usage patterns. Certain types of Internet content and applications are more likely than others to lead to problematic Internet use. Internet pornography, for example, has caused a surge in the number of people who are exposed to adult content and to overall pornography addiction problems. The same is true for gambling, shopping and chat.
A web filter allows a user to set clear limits to avoid abuse. The filter can block certain content, sites that may cause a problem for a particular user or even applications. In addition, a web filter may include a schedule for Internet use so time online can be strictly controlled. Expecting that everyone can self-enforce limits is unrealistic. For example, many teens find themselves staying up late to be online. They lose track of time or have a hard time ending their online session without being told by anyone that they should stop. Setting the filter to close the Internet at a reasonable time could be one way of enforcing bed time and an online limit.
In general, using filtering technology to control and limit Internet use can be an easy and effective way to prevent Internet Addiction from developing. Installing a web filter is a good option for preventing a problem before it becomes a problem.