Internet Addiction

Internet Addiction

At the recent annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Boston,Massachusetts, researcher and psychologist David Greenfield released the results of the largest study of Web surfers ever conducted. Responses were collected from over 17,250 different people. Almost 6% of Internet users suffer from some form of addiction to it. The 6% findings were somewhat lower than another study of college students which determined that about 10% of the young adults were addicted to surfing the Internet.

The findings bolster a growing acceptance of compulsive Internet use as a real psychological disorder. Internet addiction is similar to many other forms of addictive behavior. People participating in the study admitted to surfing the Internet to escape from their problems and were unable to lower their usage after realizing their behavior was becoming problematic in some way.

Participants in the study answered many questions in five different categories. The question, DO YOU USE THE INTERNET AS AN ESCAPE, was answered yes the most, by 30% of people answering the questionnaire. Greenfield’s analysis of the data suggests that Internet users’ feelings of intimacy, unstructured time and/or boredom, and lack of inhibition all contribute to the addictive force of the Internet.

Researchers are already labeling several different categories of compulsive Internet use: sex and relations, consumerism/shopping, gambling, stock trading, and obsessive/compulsive Internet surfing for its own sake.

Treatment of Internet addiction is similar to counseling for other addictive behaviors. The best results are often obtained using a mixture of education, insight oriented and behavioral techniques which are aimed at reducing a clearly defined set of behaviors.

If you need help curbing your time spent on the Internet, we can help!

The Internet Addiction Self-Test

Score each question:

0=Does not apply 1=Rarely 2=Occasionally 3=Frequently 4=Often 5=Always

1. How often do you find that you stay online longer than you intended?

2. How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time online?

3. How often do you prefer the excitement of the Internet to intimacy with your partner?

4. How often do you form new relationships with fellow online users?

5. How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend online?

6. How often does your schoolwork or grades suffer because of the amount of time you spend online?

7. How often do you check your e-mail before doing something else that you need to do?

8. How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of the Internet?

9. How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do online?

10. How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of the Internet?

11. How often do you find yourself anticipating or thinking about when you will go online again?

12. How often do you fear that life without the Internet would be boring, empty, or joyless?

13. How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while online?

14. How often do you lose sleep due to being online late at night?

15. How often do you feel preoccupied with the Internet when offline, or fantasize about being online?

16. How often do you find yourself saying, “just a few more minutes” when online?

17. How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend online, and fail?

18. How often do you try to hide the amount of time you spend online?

19. How often do you choose to spend more time online over socializing with friends or family?

20. How often do you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are offline, which goes away once you are back online?

SCORING

20 to 49 points = you are an average online user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage.

50 to 79 points = You are experiencing occasional to frequent problems because of the Internet. You should consider the impact of these problems on your life and get professional help if you can’t resolve these problems on your own within a month’s time.

80 to 100 points = Your Internet usage is causing significant problems in your life. You should evaluate the impact of the Internet on your life and directly address the problems caused by your Internet usage. A support group or the assistance of a professional is probably necessary.

Julie Woltil,PhD and Fritz Hershey,PsyD have extensive experience in working with addictions.

Published by

Dr. Gnap

Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago.  Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.  He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”

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