The Internet is an everyday tool for the vast majority of Quebecers. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been the main working tool for hundreds of thousands of people. However, beyond business or entertainment, online activities can become a real problem. Internet addiction can take many forms, including social networking, online games, pornography, and compulsive shopping.
Several types of internet addiction
The research doesn’t agree on exactly how to define the types of internet addiction. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) doesn’t define internet addiction either. However, broad categories frequently emerge in the literature.
Online shopping can be very convenient in many situations. It exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic and amidst the closure of many businesses. However, online shopping can become a real problem when the behaviour becomes compulsive. Many sites allow you to purchase items with just a few clicks, and a number of them keep credit card information on file to make such purchases easier. With the multitude of shopping sites and the plethora of personalized ads, many people can fall into the trap and develop significant financial problems.
These can be video games, gambling (online poker, keno, etc.) or mobile applications. This form of cyberaddiction can lead someone to spend a significant amount of time playing, to the detriment of their other activities and their financial health.
Online sexual activity
Cybersex, swinging, pornography, seeking out sexual partners online… All these activities can end up taking up too much space in some people’s lives. In some cases, online sexual activities may even take precedence over real sex.
There are many tools for maintaining virtual relationships: dating sites and applications, social networks, forums, texting and emailing. But when these online relationships become more important than real friendships and family relationships, it can lead to the person becoming progressively isolated, sometimes to the point of losing touch with real life altogether.
It’s hard to count the number of social networks that exist worldwide: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, to name but a few. These networks are entirely financed by personalized advertising, and are designed to maximize the amount of time users spend on the platform. The call of notifications, the need to count “likes,” the time spent embellishing photos before posting them, and the need to consult friends’ or influencers’ posts are all reasons that can add up to several hours a day spent on social networks, to the detriment of users’ real social life.