- A student has difficulty getting his/her homework done because computer games occupy all after-school time.
- Someone connects to the Internet at and suddenly discovers it is dawn and he/she has not left the computer.
- A wife is distraught because her husband has replaced their sexual relationship with Internet porn and online sex.
Searching for information, skimming news headlines, downloading your favorite songs, or placing bids on eBay … the options are endless. We all enjoy the benefits of the Internet. But at what point does frequent online activity become too frequent and become a source of significant problems in someone’s life? Internet addiction is generally defined as spending so much time online that Internet use adversely affects marriages, family and social life, work, and psychological and physical well-being.
As with any other addiction, a computer addict is likely to have several of the experiences and feelings on the list below. How many of them describe you or someone close to you?
- Have mixed feelings of well-being and guilt while at the computer.
- Lose control of time while on the computer; want to quit or cut down, but are unable to.
- Neglect friends, family and/or responsibilities in order to be online.
- Lie to your boss and family about the amount of time spent on the computer and what you do while on it.
- Feel anxious, depressed, or irritable when your computer time is shortened or interrupted.
- Use the computer repeatedly as an outlet when sad, upset, or for sexual gratification.
- Develop problems in school or on the job as a result of the time spent and the type of activities accessed on the computer.
- Have financial problems due to on-line purchases or gambling.
- Become tempted to get involved in relationships with strangers, which may put you at risk for victimization or jeopardize your safety.
Being addicted to the computer also can cause physical discomfort or medical problems:
- Carpal Tunnel syndrome (pain, numbness, and burning in your hands that can radiate up the wrists, elbows, and shoulders)
- Dry eyes
- Severe headaches
- Eating irregularities, such as skipping meals
- Failure to attend to personal hygiene
- Sleep disturbances
According to the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, Internet addiction affects people of varying ages, cultural backgrounds, occupations, and educational levels. The following problems are likely triggers for internet addiction:
- Substance Abuse. Over half of Internet addicts suffer from other addictions, mainly to drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex.
- Mental Illness.Trends show that Internet addicts suffer from emotional problems such as depression and anxiety-related disorders and often use the fantasy world of the Internet to psychologically escape unpleasant feelings or stressful situations.
- Relationship Troubles. In almost 75% of cases, Internet addicts use applications such as chat rooms, instant messaging, or online gaming as a safe way of establishing new relationships and more confidently relating to others.