Cyberspace Addiction – When Enough Isn’t Enough

Scott Sulak
Change For Good,® Inc.


Add this one to the list of addictions such as drinking, sex, drugs, food and other temptations. Examples:

A 45 year old corporate chief executive locks himself in his office, holding all calls and surfs the Internet all day looking for pornography and cyber chat.

A 42 year old homemaker turns on the computer when the kids go off to school and begins to go into chat room after chat room, talking about sex with total strangers until 3:00 when the kids begin to return from school.

A university student gets so wrapped up in fantasy role-playing on the Internet that he stays up all night, every night, and eventually flunks out of school.

Called “cyberspace dependent” or “Internet addicted” this growing segment of society is very real and very destructive to their lives. It is along the order of a gambling addiction, but in some ways worse. The individual becomes more and more withdrawn from reality. The cyber relationships become more important than the real ones in their lives. It is a very isolating experience and it is continuing to grow. Estimates are ranging from 10% to as much as 20% of heavy Internet users leaning toward a psychological dependency. They try to cut back or stop, but they tend to be compulsive about it, and can’t.

This is so new that there are no medical studies yet, but nobody can deny that this is playing out in millions of homes across the country. The unusual pattern in this addiction is that it happens to virtually anyone with access to the Internet – young teens, homemakers, college students, business men, just about anyone.

The cost is tremendous. Lost time in productivity in the workplace is only one aspect of the consequences. When you neglect your spouse, your kids or your job, this can seriously affect your life.

Signs of Trouble

Here are a few signs that the Internet might be a problem:

· Inability to predict amount of time spent on the computer.
· Failed attempts to control computer time for an extended period.
· Having a sense of euphoria while on the computer.
· Cravings for computer time.
· Neglecting friends and family.
· Feeling restless or irritable when not on the computer.
· Lying about time spent in cyberspace.
· Job or school being affected by time spent online.
· Changes in sleep patterns.
· Feelings of guilt, depression or anxiety because of over use.
· Heath problems: eye strain, weight gain or loss, backaches, neck aches,
headaches or stomach problems.
· Denial or rationalization of excessive computer use.
· Withdrawal from real-life social interaction.
· Obsessing about sexual behavior in the Internet.
· Creating false personas to meet online lovers.

Tips for Healthier Computer Use
(if you fall into any of the above)

· Keep the computer in a central, public part of the house.
· Set a time for an allotted computer session. When the timer
goes off, log off.
· Don’t eat at the computer. It allows the computer to invade
basic parts of life. This helps you avoid being a “mouse potato.”
· Learn some basic relaxation techniques.
· Exercise more often.
· Get out and meet people.
· Call a friend.
· Seek counseling.

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