Internet addiction

  • Published
  • By Federal Occupational Health Employee Assistance Program
  • Federal Occupational Health
The Internet is an indispensable tool for work, education and communication. While time spent on the Internet can be hugely productive, for some people compulsive Internet use can interfere with daily life, work and relationships. Learn the signs and symptoms of Internet addiction and how to balance life online.
What is Internet addiction or computer addiction?
Internet addiction, otherwise known as computer addiction, online addiction or Internet addiction disorder, covers a variety of impulse-control problems, including:
  • Cyber-relationship addiction - addiction to chat rooms, social networking and messaging to the point where online friends become more important than real-life relationships with family and friends.
  • Cybersex addiction - compulsive viewing of Internet pornography, adult chat rooms or adult role-play sites to the point where it negatively impacts real-life intimate relationships.
  • Net compulsions- such as compulsive online gambling, stock trading, online auction sites, and endless surfing, often resulting in financial and work problems.
  • Computer gaming addiction - obsessive playing of computer games.
  • The most common Internet addictions are cybersex, online gambling and cyber-relationship addiction.

Tips for dealing with Internet addiction:

  • Ask this question: "What am I missing out on when I spend so much time on the Internet?" Write these activities down and decrease time online to do some of these activities.
  • Set a reasonable Internet use time limit and stick to it. Take frequent breaks, at least five minutes each hour, to do some other activity.
  • Limit Internet use to mornings only.
  • Stay connected to the offline world. Visit newsstands, book and music stores, and participate in entertainment such as museums, music and live theater. Novels and poetry readings are hard to experience online.
  • Treat the Internet as a tool. Stay focused on the fact that the Internet is a means to an end. Plan a strategy with the end in mind, whether looking for information or entertainment.

Helping a child with an Internet addiction
  • Encourage other interests and social activities. Get the child out from behind the computer screen and into other hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Scouts and after school activities.
  • Monitor computer use and set clear limits. Make sure the computer is in a common area of the house. Keep an eye on online activity and limit time online.
  • Talk about underlying issues. Compulsive computer use can be the sign of deeper problems. Is the child having problems fitting in? Has there been a recent major change that is causing stress?
  • Seek professional counseling for the child if necessary.

For more information, call 882-1551.