I N T E R N E T     A D D I C T I O N


Video Internet may cause
social isolation.

Related links:

Center for Online Addiction

Center for Internet Studies

Internet Addiction Quiz

"Words on the monitor can be even more powerful than words on paper, because when people stare at a screen, they experience a trancelike, dissociative quality."
Dr. David Greenfield

an addicted fellow N a survey done last August by Dr. David Greenfield and ABC News, concluded that 6% of people are addicted to the Internet. This statistic is actually lower than the 10% that many other researchers predict; nevertheless, it still brings to life a problem that people must admit is out there: People do become addicted to the Internet.

Although one may think that addiction to the Internet is minor compared to drug or alcohol addiction, there can still come with it serious consequences. In some extreme cases, there have been custody battles over children and divorces in marriage due to spending too much time online. Researchers and analysts are predicting that the increased time that people are spending on the Internet lead to a decrease of time spent on other activities that could be more valuable. For example, in the most severe cases, people replace spending time with their children and their loved ones with spending time on the Internet. People, when spending more time on the Internet, ended up spending less time interacting with people in real social settings.
Increased time online leads to decreased time in traditional social settings. (ABCNEWS.com)
Although some of these missed activities may be trivial, such as shopping or watching television, the consequences of Internet addiction are more unhealthy lifestyles. For example, sitting in front of the computer for long periods of time results in less time for fitness and exercise. Moreover, as the aforementioned research suggests, people begin to isolate themselves from others, which could have detrimental psychological effects. Another study conducted stated that heavy Internet use leads to increased depressions and bipolar disorder, which are unhealthy mental conditions. A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh outlines when Internet use reaches such pathological levels.

Also, many of the things that people are doing online could be seen as morally wrong. In these studies, they show that many of the people that are addicted to the Internet or use it more frequently than others are more likely to participate in cybersex or cyberaffairs, as well as surf through pornography or participate in other sex-related activities.

In Dr. Greenfield's survey, people who met the criteria for addiction were much more likely to engage in sex-related activities, on and offline. (ABCNEWS.com)

While cybersex is a virtual experience, it could still raise some moral issues as to what should be considered sex, and how one should view this growing phenomenon. In addition, cyberaffairs could be viewed as slightly more serious and questionable, as more and more married individuals are finding people online that they feel are better matches for them in certain respects than their current partners. This can be a controversial issue, as one side could argue that nothing is really happening except that they are making new friends, but on the other hand one could argue that the intention is there.

One potential reason for these increased problems could be because of the entire anonymity of the situation. In a psychological textbook, a study shows that children, when anonymous, engaged in more aggressive play. The whole anonymity included with the Internet might be the reason that people take on more fantastical and outgoing personas; although some psychologists might argue that this could be healthy, most will agree that it should not replace the genuine interaction people have in real life with their other friends. Thus, we need to be conscious of how much time to spend on the Internet, in order to avoid a possible compromise with our health and our emotions. One can check for signs of Internet addiction using this list of 20 common symptoms.

To learn more about one of the major causes of Internet addiction, please read the Virtual Communities or Virtual Segregation? essay.