The Internet can have a place in your life… but not your whole life! After all, it’s just one of many recreational activities!
- A recreational activity should be fun for you. If it’s not, there’s something wrong.
- A recreational activity is something we do for fun in our free time. If you feel like you HAVE to play, that you’re no longer free to decide whether you’ll play or not, your Internet use might be a problem.
- It’s all a question of balance. It doesn’t mean you have to give up the Internet or video games forever, but just make sure this activity doesn’t become your only interest and damage your quality of life. If an activity causes more grief than fun… there’s a problem!
What makes a person hooked?
Look beyond the game
Imagine an iceberg: a floating block of ice with a huge mass of ice underwater. Your cyberdependence is the tip of the iceberg: it’s hiding something very big. Why are you spending so much time on the Internet or playing your video games? You might be doing it partly for fun. But it must also meet other needs: escaping from a life you don’t like, forgetting your loneliness, feeling some excitement. You need to understand it to be able to act.
Escaping from the blues or depression
When we feel depressed, we may tend to escape into video games. The game takes us out of our daily life; we turn into someone else. The perfect escape! In addition, we get immediate pleasure and frequent feelings of satisfaction, once we complete a mission or kill an enemy. In real life, it takes longer for enjoyment to build up. Developing a passion, learning a sport, mastering a musical instrument… all those things take time!
If you’re feeling very anxious, video games can be an escape hatch from your daily stresses. While playing, we forget arguments with friends, problems with the family, bullying at school, tests we’re afraid of failing, etc. Games become our way of running away and not thinking about stressful situations. A monster enters our field of view, and pow! It’s dead and the problem is solved. In real life, things aren’t always so simple.
Lack of self-esteem or self-confidence
In adolescence, we often lack self-esteem or self-confidence. This transition period isn’t always easy. We may feel a difference between what we’d like to be and what we think we really are. In some cases, we use this dissatisfaction as an engine of change. In other cases, we feel like hiding away instead. Then video games become a way to project ourselves out of the real world and become a character we like in a virtual universe where we feel competent, accepted, and acknowledged.
Some clues that you might be losing control
How do you know if your use of the Internet or video games is becoming a problem? It’s pretty simple: when you lose control, these activities are creating problems in your life, and you’re in distress.
Here are some examples of behaviours that suggest your Internet use may be problematic:
- You give up the activities you used to do and isolate yourself.
- You need to spend more and more time online: it becomes your only pleasure.
- You’re happy when you’re online.
- You use the Internet to forget your problems.
- You’re irritable, depressed, and bored when you can’t be online.
- You’ve tried to change the amount of time you spend online, but you can’t do it.
- You have sleep, concentration, and memory problems.
- Your lifestyle isn’t healthy anymore: for example, you don’t play sports, your diet is worse, or you don’t sleep much.
- You play secretly at night, even when you have school or work the next day.
- You turn down activities with your friends or family in order to go online.
Do some of these points correspond to what you’re going through? If so, don't panic, learn more about how to keep a healthy relationship with internet or talk to someone you trust.