What is Internet addiction?
Internet addiction is a broad term that describes several computer-based impulse control problems.
Because the Internet is a valuable and nearly unavoidable tool, many people become Internet addicts. Similar to substance abuse addicts, Internet addicts develop compulsive, destructive habits that interfere with everyday life as well as psychological dependence and withdrawal symptoms when Internet usage is stopped or reduced.
Common types of Internet addictions.
- Cybersex addiction involves an obsessive use of
adult chat rooms, online pornography and adult role-play sites. This
obsession interferes with real-life intimacy and, eventually, isolates the
- Cyber-relationship addiction is characterized by an addiction to
social networking, chat rooms and social messaging. Like a cybersex addiction, it eventually gets in the way of real-life
- Net compulsions occur when an individual becomes
addicted to online gambling, gaming, stock trading or online auction
sites. Net compulsions often lead to financial problems.
- Information overload includes compulsively surfing the web, browsing, and researching to where it interferes with daily activities.
- Computer addiction is an obsession with playing off-line computer games or obsessive computer programming.
- Online shopping addiction can manifest due to the illusion that the shopper isn’t really spending money and can result in massive financial distress.
Causes and symptoms of Internet
Generally, Internet addicts suffer from co-occurring disorders—such as depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder—or multiple addictions. Others lack social support—they feel lonely and isolated, so they turn to the Internet to find likeminded others.
of online addictions include, but are not limited to:
from family and friends
with the Internet
track of time spent online
- Lying to
others about Internet usage
- Using the
Internet as an escape from problems,
of anger or depression when online time is interrupted
from everyday life
In addition to behavioral changes, Internet addiction can manifest itself physically. Internet addicts often complain of:
- Dry or strained eyes
- Pain and numbness in hands and wrists
- Backaches, neck aches, or headaches
- Sleep problems
- Significant weight loss or gain
Treating Internet addiction
Various forms of treatment are effective in curing Internet addiction. Counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, support groups and content-control software have helped addicts overcome addiction.
If you or a loved one needs help overcoming Internet addiction, Caron is here for you. Please explore our support groups or contact us for more information.