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Posted at: Sep 14, 2015, 12:45 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2015, 11:10 PM (IST)

Internet addiction leading to psychological disorders: Experts

Nikhila Pant Dhawan

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 13

Do you check updates on social networking sites when you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night? Do you frequently check your phone to see if you missed any alert of chat on WhatsApp? Do you prefer chatting with friends for long hours to calling them or meeting them? Do you prefer re-reading chat conversations to reading books or newspapers? If your answer to the above questions is in affirmative, chances are that you are suffering from an addiction to social networking sites.

A recent case in Punjab in which a college couple landed in a hospital after chatting with each other continuously on WhatsApp for more than 16 hours may have come as a shocker to many as they have not yet realised that they may also be inching closer to the same mental condition.

Experts opine excessive use of internet, especially social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and chatting application such as WhatsApp, is both alarming and scary to the extent that youngsters are at a risk of developing psychological disorders.

Elaborating on the negative effects of continuously using these sites and applications, renowned psychiatrist Dr Nidhi Gupta said, “Internet addiction disorder has now been made a part of study of psychiatry considering the staggering rise in the number of people complaining of addiction to social networking sites.”

“Parents, who used to boast of their children’s ability to use mobile phones and computers without any training, now complain of their children’s decreased social activity and increased internet and application-based activities. The youth are so overwhelmed with the latest applications that they use them at the expense of social activity, outdoor gaming and reading,” she added.

Head of the Department of Psychology at Government Rajindra College in Bathinda, Prof Seema Gupta, said, “With the advent of mobile phones, accessibility to internet and internet-driven applications has increased. Social life has become more virtual than real. People interact on Facebook and WhatsApp and most of the time are occupied with the latest activity in their online profiles.”

“Most of the online activities, such as gaming, use of social sites, gambling and media can be highly addictive. This addiction can lead to problems like lack of social engagement, health issues like cervical, back ache, insomnia, lack of interest in outdoor activities, and damage to brain of adolescents and young adults,” she added.

What’s the way out?

Experts opine that an increased parental control may lead to significant changes in the lifestyle of the children, especially youngsters. Parents spending quality time with children, engagement in extra-curricular activities, joint families and need-based availability of internet on computers and use of mobile phones are some of the ways which can prevent the use of the internet and mobile applications from turning into addictions.

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