Internet Addiction Explained

The Dangers of Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is becoming a prevalent problem in this country. However, so many people remain in denial that's it's even a problem at all. It might be a bad habit that some people have, but could it really be an actual addiction? Many experts agree that it is.

Internet Addiction Information

One Stanford study has taken a closer look at what Internet addiction really is and how it affects people. Their findings were very interesting. The study showed that:

  • One out of eight people in the U.S. have at least one sign of problematic Internet use.
  • College-educated, white men are the ones who are most affected by Internet addiction.
  • Many of these individuals spend at least 30 hours online for nonessential reasons.
  • 5.7% of people meet the criteria for compulsive Internet use.
  • 13.7% of people find it hard to stay away from the Internet for more than one day at a time.
  • 12.4% of people remained online for longer than they intended to.
  • 12.3% of them felt that they should try to cut back on how much they use the Internet.
  • 8.7% of them tried to hide their Internet use from friends or family.
  • 8.2% of them used the Internet as a way to escape from their problems.
  • 5.9% of people say that the Internet has caused their relationships to suffer drastically.

Do you find these statistics to be disturbing? It's possible that you also have an Internet addiction. You may not have ever thought of it that way before. Many people don't. They tend to think of addictions as applying to only drugs or alcohol, or perhaps to gambling. An Internet addiction is a process addiction. It's something that can lead to significant problems in your life.

At Northpoint Washington, we understand that this information may have come as a shock to you. You may have thought that you would never become addicted to anything. However, now that you think you might be, it's troubling you. You may even be in denial about having a problem. This is quite common too. People often look at addictions and things that happen to other people, and not to them.

If you think you might have an Internet addiction, it will help you to read the following information. Learning as much about Internet addiction as you can will be very helpful to you.

Internet Addiction Explained

An Internet addiction is an impulse control disorder. It's different from some other types of addictions because it doesn't involve substances. In a way, it's very much like gambling addiction.

For those who are suffering from Internet addictions, they generally feel a compelling need to be online. They may use their time to look up information, get on social media, or participate in other activities. For many of these individuals, the Internet provides them with an alternate reality. They may find that hours pass before they realize how long they've been online. Eventually, they begin to care more about their online world, than they do the real world.

An Internet addiction can be diagnosed when someone begins to care more about being online than anything else. This could take many forms. For example, careers and relationships may suffer, the person's health could suffer, and other problems often develop. Most people who are addicted to the Internet deny that there's a problem. To them, being online is normal. They may even view those who don't spend a lot of time online as being the ones with the problems.

Are There Different Kinds of Internet Addictions?

There are actually several different types of Internet addictions. They all involve being online excessively, but the activities they include are different.

The different types of Internet addictions include:

Cybersex Addiction

This type of Internet addiction involves the consistent use of pornography and adult websites. It may involve sexual chats with other people, web cams or pornographic videos. When these activities start to interfere with real life, they are known as a cybersex addiction.

Social Media Addiction

Social media addiction is more prominent today than ever before. This is mostly because of the fact that social media sites are now mobile. People have the capability of checking their social networks any time of the day or night. When this becomes an obsession, and hours are spent on social media, there is an addiction present.

Computer Addiction

Today, this type of addiction is rare because it actually doesn't involve being online. However, there are many offline games and activities that people can and do become addicted to. When these activities take over one's life, it is known as a computer addiction.

Cyber Relationship Addiction

Cyber relationships do not have to be sexual in nature to be destructive. Sometimes there comes a point where online friends become more important than real life. When this occurs, there is a cyber relationship addiction present.

Informational Addiction

There are those who spend countless hours looking up information online. They will surf the web looking for information constantly, which leads to information overload. This is an addiction all its own when it interferes with daily life.

Online Compulsions

Online compulsions are obsessive activities that take place online. Internet gambling, trading stocks or even purchasing items online all fall into this category. Compulsive shopping or placing bids on eBay can become very addictive.

Are You an Internet Addict? Learn the Symptoms

There are actually both emotional and physical symptoms of an Internet addiction. Learning the symptoms can help you identify whether or not you have a treatable condition.

The emotional symptoms of an Internet addiction include:

  • Feeling guilty after spending time online
  • Feeling anxious
  • Having symptoms of depression
  • Lying about how much time is spent on the Internet
  • Feeling euphoric when sitting in front of the computer
  • Being unable to stick to a schedule because of time spent online
  • Losing track of time frequently
  • Becoming defensive if someone questions how much time you are online
  • Avoiding doing any type of work that isn't online
  • Becoming easily agitated

The physical symptoms of being addicted to the Internet include:

  • Losing or gaining weight
  • Getting frequent backaches
  • Having frequent headaches
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Not sleeping well at night
  • Being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Having blurry or strained vision

Have you noticed any of these in your own life? Maybe you never really wanted to admit that there might be a problem. However, you can see that there is one, and it needs to be addressed. Fortunately, Internet addiction treatment can provide you with the help you need.

Do You Have an Addiction to the Internet? Take an Internet Addiction Test to Find Out

Maybe you're looking at the above symptoms, and you're still not sure. You think you might have an Internet addiction, but you don't really fit all of the classic signs. It's often helpful to take an Internet addiction test. Answering certain questions about your Internet use can give you more insight into your own behaviors.

Answer the following questions honestly.

  • Do you frequently stay online longer than you intended to?
  • Do you often neglect household chores or other responsibilities because you're online?
  • Would you rather be online than spend intimate time with your partner?
  • Do you frequently form new relationships with other people online?
  • Do other people complain about how much time you spend on the Internet?
  • Does your work suffer because of how much time you spend online?
  • Do you check your email before you do other things?
  • Do you have trouble being productive because you're online so much?
  • Are you secretive about what you do when you're online?
  • Does being online help you block out troubling thoughts?
  • Do you frequently spend time thinking about the next opportunity you'll have to be online?
  • Do you worry about what life would be like without the Internet?
  • If someone bothers you when you're online, do you snap at them or become annoyed?
  • Do you lose sleep because you're on the Internet so much?
  • Do you ever find yourself fantasizing about being online?
  • Have you ever tried to cut down on how much time you spend online, but without success?

These questions might be really difficult for you. It's not easy to look into our own behaviors when struggling with an addiction. However, if you answered more than two of them with a yes, then you are probably addicted to the Internet. The good news is that you now know, so you can do something about it.

Who is at Risk for Online Addiction?

Research has shown that there are certain people who have a greater risk of online addiction than others. People who suffer from anxiety and depression have a greater risk. They often fail to get the support they need in their everyday lives. This leads them to look to the Internet as a source of comfort.

People who have a history of other types of addictions may also be at a greater risk for Internet addiction. These addictions might include sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling or other types of addictions.

Even those who are stressed out or simply unhappy are at risk for Internet addiction. The Internet represents an alternate world that people perceive as being perfect. At any rate, they believe it's probably much better than the world they currently live in. People who are generally shy or have social discomfort may find the Internet to be a better option for them. They feel more confident in themselves when they're online. This can lead to addiction.

Is There Treatment for Computer Addiction?

Getting help for an Internet addiction is so important. There are several ways that you can go about doing this.

Support groups have shown great promise in helping people who have addictions. One support group is called Internet & Tech Addiction Anonymous, and they offer help for Internet addicts. Joining the program is free, and they follow the 12 Step model of recovery.

Internet Addiction Support Groups is another website that can be very helpful. They offer the ability to connect with others who also have Internet addictions. Getting support from others who understand what you're going through is so important.

People often find it very helpful to talk with a therapist as well. That is what makes Internet addiction treatment such an excellent solution. It might seem strange to go into a rehab program for an Internet addiction. However, this is an affliction that is causing so much harm in people's lives. It is tearing families apart and causing so much stress and discord for people all over the United States. Professional Internet addiction treatment aims to help people recover who truly want to heal. This is sometimes best accomplished by taking some time away from home. That allows people to focus solely on recovering.

How to Search for the Right Type of Internet Addiction Treatment

Now that you know more about Internet addiction and what it is, what are your thoughts? Do you feel that many of the above symptoms apply to you? Did you get a fairly high score on the Internet addiction test? If you do have an addiction to the Internet, it's not the end of the world. You can get the help you need to recover.

Internet addiction treatment offers you the opportunity to recover from your addiction. Usually these types of addictions stem from other issues that you might not even be aware of. Professional treatment will help to point them out to you. Understanding what caused your addiction is the very first step to recovering from it. Those root causes can be treated, giving you a better chance of recovering.

Do you feel that you have an Internet addiction? If you do, then it's really important for you to get the help you need. Please contact us so that we can help you get the treatment that's right for you.