Can the internet be an escape hatch or an addiction – maybe even both? Nowadays, we see children with their faces lit up by the glow of their iPad screens. It’s pretty amazing to watch children – practically babies – navigating through apps and their games. As great as this may be, could we be taking it too far? Some children scream and throw tantrum for iPad time. Teens, college kids, even adults are glued to their screens.

The internet is a portal of endless options. From playing an alternate life in a fantasy gaming world, staying updated on someone else’s life, online shopping…Whatever it may be, the internet can definitely be an escape hatch. We disconnect from our reality by jumping into another, by access of the internet. We use internet for leisure, entertainment, and to ease the anxieties of our everyday.

What if we take it too far? To the point we are always jumping to our escape hatch. Sometimes even struggling to escape from our escape hatch. We just might be looking at an addiction. While it’s debating among some, internet addictions resemble symptoms of substance addictions. Internet addiction is similar to addictions we see to food, shopping, or even sex. These are considered behavioral addictions.

Here’s how internet addictions affect our brains: researchers have discovered shrinkage in several small areas of the brain, in some cases up to 10-20 percent. Some of these areas reduced inhibition of inappropriate behavior and decreased goal orientation – in other words, decision making abilities. This is why we struggle to get off the internet when we know we should. However, on the bright side, research scans have also shown us an increase of brain density in areas associated with memory formation and information retrieval.

Internet addiction is still being looked into. As research continues, we should all try to be aware of addictive behaviors and symptoms to maintain a balanced healthy lifestyle. If you or a loved one, struggles with addiction (whether it’s behavioral or substance), please contact Crownview Medical Group to speak with a medical professional for guidance, advice, and treatment.