Nowadays balanced and healthy use of digital technology pose a challenge for the whole society. We are glad to see that many individuals and their families are starting to recognise not just the positive but also the negative effect of internet.
In order to establish and maintain balanced use of technology it is important to reflect on our daily use of it and what impact it has on our lives. For some people this is enough to make necessary adjustments, while for others more structured and professional support in a form of counselling, advice from experts, support groups or a treatment is needed.
We also deliver prevention workshops and trainings for children, students, teachers, parents, different organisations and other professionals. We tailor them according to group needs and requests.
Types of digital addictions:
Digital addiction in general (information overload, online entertainment)
It is best described as daily surfing, checking emails, messages, statuses on social networks, blogs, news, searching information, etc. Time spent online is increasing, individual’s perception of time is distorted and he is preoccupate with internet even when he is not using it, consequently individual's activities in offline life (school, work, family, hobbies, etc.) and his satisfaction are reduced.
Gaming disorder has recently been recognized under addictive behaviour by World Health Organisation (WHO) in International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). It is described as impaired control over gaming habits. Gaming becomes more important that other daily activities, despite negative consequences in other areas of person’s life.
Games can be played online, either alone or with multiple players. They differ in genre, content, complexity and technology used (computers, tablets, smartphones, consoles). MMORG games (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games) are potentially most risky for developing gaming disorder due to endless options which player has in the game.
Social Media Addiction
Most common signs of this type of addiction are when social media starts replacing face-to-face communication and when a person measures her value according to ‘likes’, comments, etc. on social media. Excessive use of social media can have a negative impact on people, experiencing insecurity, have low self-esteem, not feeling good within themselves, feeling lonely, etc. People addicted to social media often experience social anxiety called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
This is a relatively new form of social anxiety, defined as an individual's anxiety, fear and regret about missing out on interesting and exciting events or opportunities which are posted on social media. It is characterised as a desire to stay constantly connected and follow what others (friends, acquaintances or even strangers) are doing.
Online shopping addiction
Online shopping is easy and time-saving, however problem arises when it is a substitute for something else such as stress relief, avoiding pressure in life, or when person is buying items not because they need or want them but because they feel an overwhelming compulsion to do so.
Pornography addiction is characterised by excessive, problematic viewing of graphic, sexually explicit material. When a person loses control over pornography, it becomes their mechanism to cope with stressors in real life. Eventually their behavior has a negative impact on their own self-esteem, relationships and family life. Young people are especially vulnerable for pornography addiction due to their developmental stage. If pornography is the only or the main source of information for young people, they can struggle to develop an appropriate understanding about sexuality in general.
Gambling is characterised by having a continuous urge to gamble, despite the negative impact that it can have on person’s life. Online gambling is increasing due to constant access, anonymity and well designed websites, which can give a realistic casino experience. Since players can play from a safe environment - home, they are willing to risk more. Compulsive gambling can lead to serious consequences such as loss of house, family, work, depression or suicide.
Online abuse and other risky online behavior
It is a form of online harassment, where a person (groomer) establishes contact with an individual pretending that he wants to be his or her friend. Prior or during the contact the groomer gains a variety of information on the potential victim. Groomer tries to manipulate with the victim by giving them a false sense of friendship, and prepares the victim to fulfill his demands. Most abuses happen in online chat rooms and social networks. Victims often develop generalized anxiety disorder and depression.
Sexting is characterised as sending and receiving sexually explicit photos, messages, videos, or other sexually explicit content. Sexting is mostly used among young people. However a lot of young people do not realise the danger of sending sexualy explicit pictures to peers, as their pictures can very quickly end up online for thousands of people to see. Sexting has severe social and psychological consequences for a victim, as they feel humiliated, bullied and have no control over it.
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying or harassment*, that takes place over digital technology (smartphone, tablet, computer) and can occur through SMS text, email, social media, forum, games, etc. The intention of cyberbullying is to threaten, insult, humiliate, target or embarass the victim by spreading malicious rumors, sending aggressive, negative, false messages, videos or pictures designing to hurt the victim.
Cyberbullying can be persistent (24/7) and it can be permanent (difficult to remove it from the internet), which is why it can have severe psychological consequences (depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts) on a victim.
*cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is referred to when an adult is involved and has legal consequences.
It is a form of fraud when someone attempts to obtain personal information such as online passwords, usernames, credit card information, etc. It usually appears via email or SMS.
It is a form of a cyberbullying and racial hatred which happens online. Intention is to spread hate speech or ideas of racial inequality. It can also contain jokes or comments with offensive content, verbal violence, harassment or intimidation, and public comments that increase intolerance towards specific groups. Despite the fact that online racism is anonymous, it has the same consequences for the victim as experiencing racism in everyday life.