Are You Addicted to the Internet?

Are You Addicted to the Internet?

Kimberly Young, PhD
Center for Internet Addiction Recovery

Special from Bottom Line/Personal
August 1, 2009

The Internet has become so central to our lives that it has become tricky to determine how much time on the Internet is too much. We shop online… pay bills… check sports scores… play video games… visit chat rooms… and write blogs. In a nationwide telephone survey of 2,513 adults, researchers at Stanford University found that about 69% were regular Internet users — and a significant percentage showed signs that their habits were out of control…

13.7% found it hard to stay away from the Internet for days at a time.

12.4% stayed online longer than intended very often or often.

8.7% attempted to conceal non-essential Internet use from family, friends and employers.

5.9% felt their relationships suffered because of excessive Internet use.

WARNING SIGNS

To help determine if you are addicted to the Internet, ask yourself the following…

Is it hard for me to cut back on my online activities?

Do I often choose online activities over time with friends or family?

Does it interfere with keeping commitments, such as preparing dinner, walking the dog or paying bills?

Do I miss sleep or meals because I’m so engaged online?

Have people commented on how much time I spend on the Internet?

If you answer "yes" to any of the questions, take steps to cut back.

BREAKING THE HABIT

Learning moderation is the key. Strategies…

Change the timing. If you log on first thing in the morning, wait until after breakfast or lunch instead. If you tend to stay up too late while on the computer, establish a rule that you must turn it off at, say, 8:00 pm.

Set limits. Limit session time (set a kitchen timer or alarm clock) or the number of sessions per day or week.

Put reminders near the computer, saying, "Are you done yet?" or "Do you know where your wife is?"

Cultivate off-line relationships. If you’re constantly socializing online, look for ways to have fun and feel connected in person instead.

Consider whether you’ve been using the Internet to avoid other issues.Perhaps you’re bored at work or not happy in your marriage. Focusing on the Internet is a way to avoid dealing with the problem. You may need to address any underlying issues more directly through counseling.


Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Kimberly Young, PhD, director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery in Bradford, Pennsylvania, www.netaddiction.com, and author of Caught in the Net: How to Recognize the Signs of Internet Addiction — and a Winning Strategy for Recovery (Wiley). She is professor of management sciences at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, New York, and serves on the board of CyberPsychology & Behavior.

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