According to the Addiction Center, data from the Pew Research Center showed that 77% of Americans connect to the internet on a daily basis. While this is relatively harmless for a majority of us, there are some people who spend so much time on the internet that it interferes with their daily life. When an action or desire becomes a hindrance, taking precedence over the most important aspects of one’s life – relationships, work, school – it can become classified as an addiction.
There are several different types of internet addiction. These include:
- Cybersex Addiction: this involves online pornography, adult websites, sexual fantasy/adult chat rooms, and XXX web-cam services among others. An obsession with any of these services can be harmful to one’s ability to form real-world sexual, romantic, or intimate relationships.
- Net Compulsions: these concern interactive activities online that can be extremely harmful, such as online gambling, trading stocks, online auctions (such as E-bay), and compulsive online shopping. These habits can have a detrimental impact on one’s financial stability and disrupt job-related duties. Spending or losing excessive amounts of money can also cause stress in one’s relationships. With instant and easy access to online casinos and stores, it is easy for those who are already susceptible to a gambling or spending addiction to get hooked online.
- Cyber Relationship Addiction: these types of addicts are deeply involved with finding and maintaining relationships online, often forgetting and neglecting real-life family and friends. Online relationships are usually formed in chat rooms or different social networking sites but can happen anywhere you can interact with people online. After being consumed by an online social life and persona, a person may be left with limited social skills and unrealistic expectations concerning in-person interactions. Many times, this leads to an inability to make real-world connections, in turn, making them more dependent on their cyber relationships.
- Compulsive Information Seeking: this involves an uncontrollable urge to gather and organize data. In some cases, information seeking is a manifestation of pre-existing, obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Commonly, compulsive information-seeking can also reduce work productivity and potentially lead to job termination.
- Computer or Gaming Addiction: this involves on- and offline activities that can be done with a computer. As computers became more widely available, games such as Solitaire, Tetris, and Minesweeper were programmed into their software. Researchers quickly found that obsessive computer game playing was becoming a problem in certain settings. Office employees would spend excessive amounts of time playing these games causing a notable decrease in productivity. Today, not only are these classic games still available, but so are thousands of new ones. Computer addiction is the oldest type of internet/computer addiction, and it is still prevalent and harmful today.
Signs and Symptoms
Meeting 5 of the criteria of the Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire suggests that you may have an internet addiction. These criteria are:
- Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?
- Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
- Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
- Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
- Do you stay online longer than originally intended?
- Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
- Have you lied to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
- Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?
You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment with a campus counselor. Also think about reaching out to a medical/mental health professional.