As we mentioned earlier, one should distinguish dependence on the Internet from addiction on the Internet. One addiction on the internet is an addiction to finding information. Today, a man lives in a time of dizzie development of new technologies, and the increase in mass media characterise his everyday life, as they follow him from morning to evening. It is surrounded by different media, such as radio, television, magazines and since 1993. And the Internet, which is expanding rapidly. Unlike conventional media, the Internet offers plenty of information. The Internet connects thousands of networks and we can compare it to a huge library, where people of all colours, races, religions and political views can come. Its main feature is that no one is controlling it, and it is the property of everyone.
It offers the possibility of qualitative and quantitative development. It can also be used by non-specialists. What fundamentally distinguishes it from radio, television and magazines is interactivity.
The question is how do we become addicted to finding information? In the nature of man is to search more and more, and the Internet is offering it right now. More and more information. And in all that, in this vortex of information, we get lost, forgetting that there is a world around us, friends, obligations. Google (Figure 1) is currently the most popular search engine, and since recently, the verb googling has become synonymous with searching for information, and indeed, everything is so simple. With one click, we arrive at a number of information. Google offers thousands of relevant connectors. The Internet offers so much fits, and as we already mentioned, a man would want to know everything.
With the internet, Facebook, Twitter, mIrcom and other social services, we now have the almost immediate satisfaction of our desire to search. You want to find out what’s going on in the world, technology, sports, science, what happens to our friends, talk to someone? No problem, just type in Google the search term and it’s enough to click “Find” and all we’re interested in is here. Currently the largest social network Facebook will give us all the information we need about our “friends”. We become addicted. Our home address is 127.0.0.1.
Online forums, bulletin boards, newsgroups are also present on the Internet and represent powerful communication tools and offer a number of advantages. However, participating in forums can lead to destructive addiction, where they benefit from a forum in the shadow of negative side effects.
What are internet forums actually? Internet Forums (Figure 2) represents a place for online discussions. They emerged as the modern equivalent of traditional bulletin boards. These are Web applications where users generate content. Most Internet forums require registration so that users can post content and engage in a discussion.
Registered users are called members of that forum. The forums are managed by a group of individuals, so called. Administrators and moderators. They are responsible for the conception of the Forum, technical maintenance and forum policy. Most forums have a list of rules, goals and guidelines of the creators of the Forum. It is moderators who control whether members abide by the rules, and if they violate the rules follow the penalties, e.g. Warning, or even a ban on the presence of the forum.
Internet Forums represent a great opportunity to learn something about a topic we are interested in and introduce ourselves to people with the same or similar interests. The most common topics in the forums include questions, comparisons, opinion polls and discussions. After a while, we can find myself in a situation that we spend too much time participating in the forums. We become addicted. But first, let’s start with the potential benefits of the forum to Herbert Simon:
• Intellectual exchange
• Learning new ideas and processing of old
• Enjoy membership and benefits
• Influence on the Forum’s evolution
• Contributing to others
• Create new friends and contacts
• New Business Opportunities
• Monitoring of current events
• Learning about new opportunities
But although there are positive sides, excessive participation in the forums leads to addiction, reflecting negative consequences. Some of the negative consequences as further cited by Herbert Simon (2005) are:
• Decreased concentration and focus
• Reduced productivity
• Chronic procuration
• Increased pessimism and/or apathy
• Endless debates and chatter
• Gradual acceptance of group attitudes
• Weakening social skills
• Reduced self-esteem
Given the numerous negative consequences follows a few tips on how to effectively use the forums and avoid the negative consequences:
- Post from the Forum
If you are active on any forum, stop using it for a while, the recommended period is 30 days, with a minimum of 14 days. This will help you get rid of unconscious habits and regain your perspective, so you can intelligently evaluate the role of the Forum in your life.
- Reviewing the habits of using the forum
After a quick withdrawal, see your forum participation habits again. Imagine having just discovered today’s forum for the first time. What are the positive and what negative things? Is this the best way to make use of your time or can you imagine something better? If you use the forum to come up with certain information, wouldn’t it be better to read a book, articles or blog? If you use the forum to expand your society, wouldn’t it be better to join a local club and meet people face and face? Looking at the previous behavior, can you say you’re addicted?
- Clarify your expectations
If you choose to participate in on-line forums clarify your expectations. Whether you’re using market research forums, information, discussions, contacts, explain yourself why you’re there.
- Set Reasonable limits
To limit the risk of dependence on forums, set clear boundaries to yourself. You can limit the number of visits to the Forum weekly, the total time spent in participating or the number of posts you will make each week. Set clear boundaries, so you know if you violate them that you’re falling into an addiction. If that happens, it’s time again for phase one, rapid rehab.
- Leave the Forum
If you find yourself in a situation that leads to dependence on forums or negative consequences, the best decision is to leave the forum. Participation in forums, endless debates, simply takes too much time.
- Swap on-line socializing with a companion face to face
Regarding the social aspect, online forums are a poor substitute for live encounters, face to face. Although forums offer some social benefits, it is essential that we maintain real relationships, face to face.
- Avoid addiction
On-Line forums can be real traps. Initially they can be very useful, such as acquiring knowledge, acquiring new contacts, etc., but later this utility is declining. Then there are negative consequences such as forum dependence. Regular participation will continue to provide some benefits, but the more we participate, the more benefits will be less effective. Manage your use of the forums consciously to serve your goals, and avoid the trap of addiction.