Signs of Internet Addiction

All of us are impulsive to some degree, acting spontaneously, doing something on a whim. For example, buying a few lottery tickets while picking up a few groceries, or perhaps playing a little online poker just for fun, how about placing a bid on that almost new set of golf clubs on eBay. It’s all just innocent fun, but there’s very little chance of winning. Some rewards do come every so often and isn’t that why we keep coming back? If you are rewarded, no matter how small, you will continue the impulsive act until it becomes compulsive. Many people use these two terms interchangeably, but in fact they are complete opposites. Impulsive means spontaneous and unplanned while compulsive means planned, repetitive, and consuming.

Delusional Belief System

Addiction and compulsive behavior can be enormously impacted by the online environment. When any behavior is rewarded with pleasure, you are more likely to repeat it. The addictive system starts with a belief system that contains faulty assumptions, myths and values that support impaired thinking. The resulting delusional thought process shields the addictive cycle from reality. 

The four-phase addictive cycle – preoccupation, ritualization, compulsivity and despair – can repeat itself unhindered and take over an addict’s life. All the other support systems, including relationships, career, finances and health become unmanageable.

Interwoven Compulsions

All sorts of compulsive behavior can be interwoven into the scenario of addiction. Shoplifting, gambling, and excessive spending are frequent counterparts. Each type of online activity has its own attractions with extra built-in rewards that condition users to return.

The most common combination of addictions is when the sexual addict is also dependent on alcohol or other drugs.

Emotional illness multiplies within the addict’s world. Depression, suicide, obsessive-compulsive behavior and paranoia are common companions.

How Will You Know?

How will you know when your impulsive internet activity is becoming compulsive internet addiction? The following list of internet behaviors may be helpful:

Preoccupation with your internet activity – thinking more about it. How to arrange your schedule for more internet time while at work.

Going online more often and staying on longer – It is taking more and more of your free time, after school time, time at work, or staying up later and later. You can’t seem to ever get enough. You’re almost developing a tolerance to being online.

Not having the ability to cut back or completely stop your internet activities. Maybe you tried to cut back to once per day or a few times per week. Perhaps you even canceled your internet subscription but after a few days, weeks or months you made up a reason why you had to go back online.

Maybe you become irritable or restless when you aren’t online. Perhaps you haven’t even noticed but these are classic withdrawal symptoms similar to giving up cigarettes, drugs or alcohol.

Maybe you use the internet to escape reality, or for hiding your problems of depression, anxiety or guilt? Everyone feels down sometimes but there are many ways to help with these feelings, like taking walks, exercising, and visiting relatives and friends. But your best friend is the internet so you log on and resume your usual activities.

Engaging in more similar online activities in search of a bigger thrill or excitement. Maybe it’s the thrill of gambling? Maybe it’s the lure of online auctions, or loud tank battles, social website feeds, or even erotic online sex chat? How different is your activity today compared to when you first started surfing the net?

Perhaps you are hiding your online activities from your family, employer or teacher to conceal your involvement? Is your online activity secretive? Deceitful? Are you not being honest with your family? With yourself?

Perhaps you are committing illegal acts online like illegal gambling, file sharing, or underage pornography? Certain activities online are strictly illegal. The longer you engage in your online behavior, the greater the chance of moving closer to illegal activities.  So why risk the chance of serious consequences?

Have you given any thought that perhaps you are jeopardizing a significant relationship, job, etc., because of your online activities? File sharing of illegal images, making dates with underage people could have serious legal consequences.

Many people have incurred substantial financial loss and legal consequences because of online gambling, shopping addiction and have even lost their job as a result of their online activities. Have you?

Internet Hard to Resist

Yes the internet is hard to resist. That is why it was invented in the first place. It is always there waiting for you. So what can you do about it?

Stop checking your email, text messages, etc on your smartphone or computer.

Control your online behavior instead of letting it control you. Set time limits – and get serious about it. And if you have children – try setting an example for them!

Turn off all devices at dinner time and reconnect with the family.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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