Hyderabad: Internet addiction is prevalent not only in major cities but also in small towns, according to a survey carried out by the Indian Psychiatric Society. The addiction was found to be as high as nine per cent.
Two colleges in Hyderabad and Nalgonda district — one government and one private — studied the pattern of usage among 1,000 students for a year. The results were released recently and it was found that the usage began first with games and continued as mood-regulator.
Dr G. Prasad Rao, director of schizophrenia at Asha Hospital who conducted the study, said, “Internet is found to be more attractive to individuals who are lonely and also who lack face-to-face social competence.
“People get hooked on to the Web in order to overcome these deficient social skills. The usage among some of them is as high as 15 to 16 hours per day. Generally, it is more during the night than day due to which sleep patterns of the users are also affected,” he said.
Survey results showed that the pattern of usage and users behaviour were the same in both government and private colleges. Internet addicts have an impulse control disorder and it is a secondary manifestation of an underlying disorder in the person.
Students who are lonely suffer from anxiety and social isolation due to lack of inter-personal interaction and are thus found to be over dependent on Internet for socialisation.
Dr Naga Laxmi, psychiatrist, explained, “Internet fulfills two important needs — one is to disclose feelings and the other is overcome shyness. When both these desires are fulfilled in an easy and cheap manner the person spends more and more time for the gratification derived.For this reason we are now seeing that an individual is different when on the Internet from what he or she is in real life.”
Those who spend too much time on the Web suffer from mood disorders, impulse control, substance abuse and also severe anxiety. The students also reported staying up late at night while feeling tired the next day due to insufficient sleep and thereby missing classes. They also suffer from other side effects of various sleep disorders.
Psychiatrist Dr Rama Reddy said, “Most of these symptoms only come to light when the Internet connection is disrupted or when there is a break of a few hours at a stretch. This is the time when the condition is detected. When there are continuous episodes of irritation, aggressive behaviour and also anger, that is when friends and the college management complain to the parents to take urgent action. Hence students mostly come to us at a stage where they are deep into it or their addiction has caused some social or moral problems in the society.”
Behavioral therapy can cure net addiction
Relapse in Internet addiction is not as high as it is in alcohol and tobacco as behavioural changes have shown successful results so far.
Psychiatrist Dr Prasad Rao said, “Behavioural therapy takes up to a year depending on the addiction but the results have shown that there is no major relapse.
The existing social structure is strengthened and they are able to deal with their problems later. The dependency factor on internet is found to reduce.” Students who stay alone are advised to speak more to their real friends rather than only communicate via smart phones or Internet....