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Internet Addiction

Internet addiction? Sounds unlikely, right? How can the use of a positive, dynamic force like the Internet become a negative, debilitating factor in someone’s life. Simple. Just like the use of food, the drinking of alcohol, or the purchasing of material things can escalate into misuse and abuse, so can one’s interest in and preoccupation with using the Internet become an addiction. Let’s take a look at several key facets of this developing phenomenon of Internet Addiction, starting with a basic definition which is taken from Dr. Kimberly B. Young’s book Caught in the Net.

What is Internet Addiction?

Internet Addiction is a broad term covering a wide-variety of behaviors and impulse control problems. It is important to understand that there are at least five specific types of Internet addiction:

  • Cybersexual Addiction (addictions to adult chat rooms or cyberporn).
  • Cyber-relationship Addiction (online friendships made in chat rooms, MUDs, or newsgroups that replace real-life friends and family, this also includes the issue of cyberaffairs).
  • Net Compulsions (compulsive online gambling, online auction addiction, and obsessive online trading.
  • Information Overload (compulsive web surfing or database searches).
  • Computer Addiction (obsessive computer game-playing or to programming aspects of computer science, mostly a problem among men, children, and teenagers).

What are some warning signs that you or someone you know might exhibit if you are growing to misuse or abuse using the Internet?

  • Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous on-line activity or anticipate next on-line session)?
  • Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
  • Do you stay on-line longer than originally intended?
  • Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
  • Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
  • Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?

Who gets addicted to the Internet?

Although any one of us can become addicted, some trends do exist. Some people are drawn to a “faceless community,” one where a person can enter into multiple cyber-relationships with anonymity and create one or multiple new on-line personas. Certainly persons with quite a lot of discretionary time on their hands are susceptible, including homebound people or college students adjusting to the new schedule on a university campus.

Gender does seem to influence the types of applications and underlying reasons for Internet addiction. Men tend to seek out power, status, dominance and sexual fantasy on-line, gravitating more toward the sources of information glut, aggressive interactive games, and sexually explicit chat and cyber-porn sites. Women seek out supportive friendships, romantic partners, and prefer anonymous communication in which to hide their appearance. It seems to be a natural conclusion that attributes of gender played out in Cyberspace parallel the stereotypes men and women have in our society.

What are the particular dynamics that make university campuses ripe for Internet overuse?

  • Free and unlimited Internet access
  • Huge blocks of unstructured time
  • Newly experienced freedom from parental control
  • No monitoring or censoring of what they say or do on-line
  • Full encouragement from faculty and administrators
  • Adolescent training in similar activities
  • The desire to escape college stressors
  • Social intimidation and alienation
  • A higher legal drinking age

What are the most popular Internet activities for college students?

When university officials are pleased that computer labs are filled to the brim with students dedicated to scholarly endeavors, the students may well be participating in the following on-line activities instead.

  • Exchanging e-mail with their real-life friends back home or at other colleges or sending e-mail to their new Internet companions far-off locales
  • Scanning newsgroup postings to stay abreast of the latest info about their favorite movies, TV shows, musical groups, etc.
  • Chat-room dialogue for venting frustration, for participating in on-line romances, and for trying out different personas
  • Dedication and devotion to MUD games that never end and where one is rewarded for accumulated on-line time
  • Downloading pornographic photos and other forms of cyberporn
  • Endless surfing of Web pages on any and all topics that catch their eyes

Young’s Recovery Strategies are as follows:

Recognize What You’re Missing

Young cites the Top 10 list of most commonly mentioned activities that suffer because of excessive Internet use:

  • Time with partner or family.
  • Daily chores. Sleep.
  • Watching TV.
  • Time with friends.
  • Exercise. Hobbies. Sex. Social events

Assess Your On-line Time

Keeping an actual log for a typical week on the Internet helps individuals to see the real extent and direction of their time use. This exercise makes it difficult for individuals to deny their involvement on-line.

  • Chat rooms. How many hours spent per week? List all the different chat rooms you visit.
  • Interactive games. How many hours? Name the different games you play.
  • E-mail. How many hours? Track how many e-mail messages you send and receive each day.
  • Newsgroups. How many hours? List the different groups you participate in.
  • World Wide Web. How many hours? Identify your favorite Web site subjects.
  • Other Internet usage. Are there additional applications you’ve
  • Discovered on the Internet? Name them and similarly total your hours spent per week on each one.

Use Time-Management Techniques

  • Cultivate an alternative activity. Think of a hobby or activity that you have always wanted to try and commit to doing it in place of some of the hours spent currently on the Net. The more fun things you have in your life every day, the less you will miss the constant Internet buzz and give in to the craving to go back to it.
  • Identify your usage pattern. What days of the week do you typically log on-line? What time of day do you usually begin? How long do you stay on during a typical session? Where do you usually use the computer? To begin to shake the habit, practice the opposite.
  • Find external stoppers. Use the concrete things you need to do and places you need to go as prompters to remind you when to log off the Internet, and schedule your time on-line just before them. If this is not effective because you ignore them, use a real alarm clock to be set when you need to end the session. Keep it a few steps from the computer so you have to get up to shut it off.
  • Incorporate planned Internet time into your weekly schedule. Internet addiction does not require that a person go “cold turkey” and quit all usage. Scale your hours down intentionally by setting into your schedule specific starting and stopping times. Set a reasonable goal, perhaps 20 hours a week on-line if you currently devote 40 hours. Instead of “One day at a time,” practice “One time a day.”

Find Support in the Real World

  • Frequently Internet addicts have increasingly cut themselves off from their family, friends, social activities and hobby activities that they used to enjoy.
  • Consequently, it is a good strategy for recovery to be intentional about reconnecting with loved ones and friends. They also are wise to seek out social opportunities and new experiences.
  • To replace the camaraderie often experienced with on-line friends, addicts can seek out a social or support group to provide some of that support.

Recognize Your Addictive Triggers

  • Consider your own feelings when you head toward the computer. Complete the following sentence: Before I turn to the Internet, I feel________________________________. Some typical answers are bored, lonely, miserable, depressed, anxious, angry, stressed. It is important to raise awareness about these individual feelings because they prompt your addictive response.
  • Next complete this sentence: When I am engaged in my favorite Internet activity, I feel__________________. Typical responses include relaxed, excited, happy, confident, competent, fulfilled, respected, calm, loved, supported, sexy, and hopeful.
  • Recognizing these two feeling states—how you feel before you go on-line and how you feel when you’re using the Net—allow you to see what you are running away from and tune in to what you hope to gain on-line. Each time you decide to use the Internet as a response to these triggers, you face a choice point.
  • As you get more into your recovery efforts, these choice points are crucial for altering cognitive and behavioral patterns.

Carry Positive Reminder Cards

  • Make a list of the five major problems caused by your addiction to the Internet.
  • Make a separate list of the five major benefits of cutting down your Internet use.
  • Transfer the two lists onto a 3-by-5inch-index card and keep it in your pocket, purse, or wallet.
  • When you hit a choice point where you would be tempted to use the Internet instead of doing something more productive or healthy, take out your index card as a reminder of what you want to avoid and what you want to do for yourself.
  • Examples of Internet problems could be no job-hunting, lost sleep, ignoring real-life friends, not facing causes of anxiety or secrecy with a loved one. Examples of major benefits of reducing on-line time could be pursue job leads, better rested, time to devote to real-life relationships, and finding new ways to relieve stress.

Take Concrete Steps to Address Problems

  • To recover from any addiction, one must have a concrete plan of action and steps to accomplish each point on the plan. The key word is concrete. If you are not getting any sleep, discipline your self to turn off the computer at 11 p.m. instead of 2 a.m. and go to sleep. Break up your schedule so that the changing behaviors will be easier to instate. If you need a job, pick up the phone and set appointments for consultations or visit a job board on campus or revise your resume and distribute it to 15 places that you think might have potential for the type of work you prefer.
  • The main objective of this recovery step is to act in your own behalf.

Listen to the Voices of Denial

  • Like addicts in general, on-lineaholics resist the need to seek assistance because of their basic denial of the problem. To uncover your own denial or help a loved one see it, read these typical statements of denial which have been broken into basic categories so you can understand the specific form of denial. Check each statement that sounds familiar, something you or the Internet addict in your life has said at least once, things like “Leave me alone; what I do on the computer is my business;” or “It’s not really extramarital or premature sex; it’s just words on the computer;” or “ It will be all right if I just cool it on the chat rooms for a while;” or “So I miss a few hours sleep from the Net; that’s just wasted time anyway.” (Attachment 3A for Checklist of Typical Denial Statements).
  • Denial is often linked to the need of someone to escape something in one’s “real” life. The following Top 10 List of Avoidances was compiled from Young’s research surveys:
    1. Loneliness
    2. Marital discontent
    3. Work-related stress
    4. Boredom
    5. Depression
    6. Financial problems
    7. Insecurity about physical appearance
    8. Anxiety
    9. Struggles with recovery from other addictions
    10. Limited social life
  • Young has identified three distinct phases of escape that Internet users tend to experience on the road to addiction:
    1. Phase I: Engagement—You gain access to a computer with a modem, learn about the Internet, begin to check it out, find one or two on-line applications that most attract you and that begin to pull you toward regular usage. You begin to develop an identity in a chat room or MUD or newsgroup. You are engaged in the Net.
    2. Phase II: Substitution—You plunge so deeply into the Internet community that it becomes a substitute for what you did not have or could not find in life. Within a short while, you have a friend---or many. You have found stimulation, trust, caring and support. You have someplace to go and things to do. The people or activities that used to keep you going in life, you may not ignore or slight. The Internet world has become an irresistible stand-in.
    3. Phase III: Escape--You turn to your substitute community more and more often, for longer and longer periods. You feel calm, peaceful, and happy on-line, where you don’t have to worry about loneliness, homework deadlines, dealing with stress, or “real life” relationship problems. You use Internet use to numb you to negative feelings; you want and need more time online; there never seems to be a good time to sign off.
  • But when you cling to the social presence of the Internet, you are clinging to nothing more than that presence. You are experiencing just one dimension of life, where you see and respond not only to a distorted image of the people you encounter (who may not even wish to identify their mailing addresses, home addresses or phone numbers—only Internet addresses) but also to distorted images of life (in the form of the give and take of a “real life” relationship, job, coping situation, etc.).
  • Understanding the connection between denial, avoidance and escape helps Net users to be aware of their level of dependency on Internet use and the level to which they may be escaping from the hard work of being human.

Confront Your Loneliness

  • Transfer positive qualities that you discovered or developed on the Internet to “real life” experiences. Don’t limit your social life; look for the support and affection from people that you can see and touch; if you were witty, caring and intelligent on the Net, be so in real life also. Visualize yourself acting with the same positive qualities in a typical social situation you might face a work, school or at the grocery store.
  • Change your situation. Look at the circumstances of your life and how they may be contributing to your loneliness: Is it time to change living environments? Jobs? Join a social club or civic group? Attack a weight problem? Take positive action in your own behalf and change your real life for the better.
  • Explore the difficult feelings. If you turned to the Internet because a sudden accident or illness left you homebound, you’ve probably got some strong emotions stirring inside you. You may have turned to the Net at a transition time in your life: between jobs, relationships, levels of education. What ever the feelings you are having, the only true way through them is to talk about them to someone you trust, write about them, let go of some of the intensity of them and then move on beyond them. Although exploring difficult feelings may feel traumatic at first, eventually most people find it therapeutic and helpful in getting themselves “unstuck’ from a pattern of thought and behavior that is destructive and addictive.

Learn the Seven Warning Signs of Terminal Love

If you suspect that your spouse or partner has found love on the Internet, ask yourself whether you have seen any of the following seven signs in their behavior:

  1. Change in sleep patterns
  2. Personality changes
  3. Loss of interest in sex
  4. A demand for privacy
  5. Household chores ignored Evidence of lying
  6. Declining investment in your relationships

You yourself may suspect that you are addicted to an Internet relationship. The Electronic Relationship Addiction Quiz may be a help in assessing your level of dependency (Attachment 4A)

Follow the Seven Steps of Communication

If you know or suspect that you are a cyberwidow, you can respond to the seven warning signs of terminal love by taking these seven steps to communicating with your real life partner:

  1. Set your specific goals. Do you just need your partner to end the cyberaffair or do you need for him/her to limit Internet usage to several weeknights with weekends free to spend together, or do you think you both need to enter counseling? Know what you want and articulate it to your partner.
  2. Find a good time to talk. The worst time to approach an on-lineaholic is when she or he is at the computer. Like any fair fight or fair confrontation of a difficult subject, set a time that is mutually agreed upon by both parties.
  3. Decide what you most want to say. You need to let your partner know how the addictive behavior is affecting you. Be concrete and specific about what is most on your heart; explain the pain that comes from missed time together, an empty sex life, or the psychological isolation you are feeling.
  4. Use nonblaming “I” statement. Use nonjudgmental language that won’t sound critical or blaming. If you say, “You never pay any attention to me because you’re always on the damn computer,” your partner will perceive it as an attack and become defensive. Use “I” statements and own your own feelings. Typical ones might be “I feel neglected when you spend long nights on the computer;” or “I feel rejected when you say you don’t want to make love to me;” or “I feel hurt that you don’t want to talk about our future plans anymore.”
  5. Listen empathetically. When your partner does respond, stop and listen fully and respectfully. Try to suspend your point of view momentarily and walk in his/her shoes. Doing so does not mean you agree or lose power; it does indicate that you are open to what he or she is saying and are trying to accept their reality without condemning it.
  6. Be prepared for a negative response. Ideally, your partner will listen to your pain caused by his or her Internet addiction, accept your perspective, engage in a productive discussion, and agree to concrete changes. However, when dealing with addictions, ideals seldom happen. Negative responses are common. Stay true to your needs and stick to you goals. If the first discussion goes badly, try to set up another time to calmly approach the subject again with your requests and feelings.
  7. Consider other alternatives. If your attempts to communicate in person fail, don’t despair. Try writing your partner a letter or you might even consider e-mailing to communicate, which might demonstrate that you do you view the Internet itself as entirely evil or bad. You might also request couples counseling and in the event that your partner rejects all attempts to communicate on this issue, seek counseling for yourself.

Watch for Children’s Warning Signs

Today, some parents may be uneasy, uninformed and concerned about their children’s Internet use. The following warning signs in children tend to signal problems with Internet use:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Academic problems
  • Declining interest in hobbies
  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Disobedience and acting out

If your child demonstrates three or more of these warning signs, he or she may be addicted to the Internet. Teens or preteens can become just as psychologically dependent on the Internet’s interactive features as adults.

Parents need to be aware that the signs printed above could point to alcohol, drug or food addiction as well. Communicating with your child is the only real way to know what the symptoms indicate.

Also helpful for parents to remember is that children falling into any addictive pattern may be doing so as a cry for help—not just for their own problems but for a larger issue involving the family. Mom’s alcoholism, Dad’s workaholism, or the family’s unresolved and unaddressed grief over Grandmother’s death may be the real issues that need to be addressed. It is the wise parent who calmly and intentionally engages their child in dialog about the observed symptoms and their real roots.

Intervening with Addicted Children

Once you’ve determined that you need to approach your child about his or her Internet use, you’ll be practicing many of the same steps outlined in Strategy 11, Follow the Seven Steps of Communication.

However, the challenges of communicating with children about Internet addiction—or almost any sensitive issue—require special skills and considerations:

  • Present a united front if you have a partner to help.
  • Show your caring.
  • Assign an Internet time log.
  • Set reasonable rules.
  • Make the computer visible.
  • Encourage other activities.
  • Support, don’t enable.
  • Use outside resources when needed.

The important thing for a parent faced with these questions is to take a proactive stance; don’t wait for the reality of the problem to be so destructive that you are forced to deal with it. Try to intercept beginning addictive behavior when it is starting. Educate yourself about the potential problems. Talk to your kids.

Teach Young Kids the Do’s and Don’ts

The object for parents of young children is to make their introduction to the Internet a new adventure but a safe one.

When children begin to spend time alone on the Net, guard against the dangers that await them by teaching them these basic do’s and don’ts:

DO’S

  • Do log off immediately and tell your parent or another trusted adult if anyone says anything to you on the internet that makes you uncomfortable or asks you to do something that you know is wrong. If possible, write down the person’s on-line handle so an adult can follow up.
  • Do log off and inform a parent if that same person tries to contact you again.
  • Do log off and inform a parent if someone sends you sexually explicit pictures electronically.
  • Do inform a parent if you come across any bad language or sexually oriented content, even if it’s not directed at you individually.

DON’TS

  • Don’t give out your full name, phone number, address, or any other personal information you wouldn’t share with a stranger.
  • Don’t accept gifts from anyone you meet on-line.
  • Don’t call anyone you encounter on the Internet on the phone, even if the other person invites you to call them collect.
  • Don’t enter any Web site or room where you see a warning indicating that no one under 18 is allowed.

If your child is faced with one of these experiences and reports it appropriately, praise him or her for doing the right thing. Recognize that young children often feel it is their fault if someone talks dirty to them or makes an unwanted advance. Reassure them that you are not angry with them, that it is not their fault.

Remind them that not all people are bad but there are some people who do inappropriate things on the Internet that they should watch out for, just as they should beware of strangers calling on the phone, ringing the doorbell, or stopping them on the street.

Understanding the University Internet Addict

Educate yourself about the problem.

If you are a counselor or educator, learn all you can about the Internet and what students do there. Talk to them about their on-line activities, ask them questions about what they get out of it, go on-line yourself to see what chat rooms and MUDs look like in action. During intake interviews with students reporting depression or anxiety, make sure you inquire about their Internet habits.

If you are a student, learn all you can about how behavioral addictions function. Eating disorders and gambling addictions lead to many of the same symptoms as Internet addiction, and if you go to a counselor who’s initially skeptical when you say you’re hooked on the Net, explain the similarities with these recognized addictions. Remember that it is unwise to quit cold turkey. You may be able to alleviate the major problems you’re experiencing through some adjustments of your usage.

Recognize the signs of trouble in the nethead in your life or that you interact with on campus.

  • Lack of sleep and excess fatigue
  • Declining grades
  • Less investment in relationships with boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Withdrawal from all campus social activities and events
  • General apathy, edginess, or irritability when off-line (cybershakes)
  • Denial of the seriousness of the problem
  • Rationalizing that what they learn on the Net is superior to their classes
  • Lying about how much time they spend on-line and what they do there

Trying to quit completely when threatened with possible expulsion because of poor grades, then slipping right back into the same addictive patterns when the stress of poor grades or suspension is off

Encourage others to eliminate their most destructive Internet habits, while using the Net on a limited basis for e-mail or legitimate research for classes. Once students get control of their most compulsive Internet habit and get their grades back on track, they can return to the computer labs and try short, tightly scheduled sessions on their favorite applications. But encourage them to stay out of the “danger zone” as much as possible. As with any addiction, relapse is always a possibility.

Another means of students’ breaking their overuse of the Net is to enter the social world that their campus offers. Finding a club or organization that matches their preaddiction interests or a new area they wish to explore is a good step. Attending school events is another positive step away from Internet overuse.

Encourage students to discover and use the campus library, utilizing the strong organization of librarians who can guide them to the desired material even more efficiently than they say they can find it on the WEB. Checking out real books, studying your course assignments, reading textbooks, holding study groups or participating in special training sessions the library may offer are concrete steps students can take to disengage from overusing the Net.

Students actively participating in their own recovery from Internet addiction can provide a valuable service to their fellow students and their university by telling others about their experience with addiction and what they have learned about recovery. College is a learning environment and fellow students can often be the best teachers. You may even choose (the operative word here is choose ) to go on-line with your story in hopes of encouraging other college students to seriously examine their own behavior.

A learned response from the university community should be multi-faceted and could include student/faculty/staff collaborative research on the subject of Internet overuse and addiction; counseling support groups; educational seminars for the university community; an open forum or town meeting format for an honest dialogue about the Internet, how we all use it and how it may be impacting us. Faculty can be more clear with students regarding just when Internet use is expected of them and when they are required to use traditional research tools such as the library and field explorations. College administrators may need to put their foot down on a policy of unlimited Internet access, restricting Internet use to six hours per day with limited modems and fair access rules. College officials may want to consider banning access to chat rooms and MUDs from all terminals in computer labs. At the labs, educational signs should be posted urging students not to abuse their Internet privileges and reminding them that the computers are for school use only, not entertainment. Computer lab monitors should be trained to watch for students who seem to be using university computers for non-academic reasons. Overall it is time for the university community to realize the gravity and potential scope of Internet overuse problems.

Recognize the Symptoms in the Work Place

  • Decrease in productivity
  • Increase in mistakes
  • Less interaction with coworkers
  • Startled looks when approached at their stations
  • Less tolerant of workplace conditions
  • Excessive fatigue
  • More sick calls, tardiness, and midday doctor’s appointments

Help for the Addicted Employee

While Internet addiction is not yet recognized officially as a clinical disorder that would enable a worker to receive insurance coverage for treatment, companies still can take four important steps to help their addicted employees:

  • Ask the right questions. If the employee displays many of the workplace warning signs of Internet addiction, managers or human resource specialists should ask direct questions about that person’s use of the Internet. Make it clear that your intent is to work together to solve the problem if possible. Let them know that you are aware that getting hooked on the Net is understandable and is a response that is increasingly common among employees who get an on-line account or who suddenly take on more on-line related assignments. Above all, let the employee know that you take this issue seriously and that your intent is to educate and offer assistance, not to threaten.
  • Determine whether your employee really wants help. If your employee denies any problem with the Internet or simply declares that he/she will cut out the abuse, give that person some information about Internet addiction to read or at least hold onto. Recommend that your employee take the Internet Addiction Test and clarify for the employee your expectations for their altering of their use of the Net at work. If an employee is willing to face the problem and expresses regret for the abuse and its cost to the company, be prepared to refer them to an appropriate place for getting help.
  • Find a suitable recovery program or counselor. Through your company’s EPA or other outreach avenues, research your community for an addiction recovery treatment program that could integrate the specific issues of Internet addiction within their established programs for alcoholism or chemical dependency. The most effective programs seem to combine stressing emotional awareness of the problem and teaching moderation techniques. You might also find a respected individual therapist or counselor who recognizes Internet addiction as a legitimate problem and understands how to assist a client’s recovery.
  • Tighten control of Internet access. As employers establish outside resources to help employees who get hooked on the net, they can actively assist in moderating Internet use with tighter controls in the work environment. Review whether all employees need full-time Net access. Consider having a handful of on-line stations that employees would go to only when their work requires it? To further discourage abusive use, put the Internet-access terminals in a public, visible location. If you determine that all employees do need to use the Internet for some regular work tasks, consider customizing access to match the requirements of individual workers. An administrative assistant or clerical worker could perhaps access e-mail, a middle manager would use e-mail, newsgroups and the Web but not chat channels, and only executives could access all Internet functions. Be creative and honest in your devising a tighter Internet access system. Consider adopting a company Internet Code of Conduct (Attachment 5A)

Consider the Long-Term Consequences

Five Tips for the Journey to Recovery

  • Avoid relapsing. One of the keys to recovery is creating your new schedule that stresses brief but regular periods of on-line use. Once you decide on a schedule, keep to it for at least three weeks before attempting to make any necessary minor changes. In working to create new and healthier habits, you are aiming for consistency. If you do relapse in overuse of the Net, get back to the new schedule quickly and with renewed diligence.
  • Be patient with yourself. Give recovery time. Real-life change takes longer than the instant intimacy and satisfaction you are used to from the Net.
  • Give yourself credit for trying. It is natural to feel embarrassed or ashamed that you got hooked on the Internet and can’t seem to handle the problem overnight. Recovery is not a straight, perfect process; give yourself credit for the incremental steps you are taking, like giving up a favorite chat room or MUD or cutting e-mail time in half. These are major accomplishments for which you can feel proud and good.
  • Tune in to your addictive triggers. Recognizing the emotions fueling your on-line use, you will be much better able to make healthy decisions at the key choice points in your recovery. Simply put, life is all about choices and when you are aware of what you are choosing and why, you stand a better chance of making wiser decisions.
  • Get your loved ones on board. The support of your partner or other loved ones can aid your recovery significantly. Make sure that these persons understand that your goal is moderation, not abstinence. You may want to work with loved ones to clarify and finalize your recovery goals and steps.

Recognize the Signs of Recovery

  • You stick to your schedule of Internet use and don’t eclipse your targeted number of total hours on-line each week.
  • Your partner, parent, or other loved one tells you they see the difference in your Internet habits and your behavior toward them.
  • You keep a strict accounting of the money you spend for on-line service fees and stay within your budget.
  • You perform work tasks, school assignments, or household chores in a timely fashion that closely resembles your pattern before turning to addictive Internet use.
  • You rediscover those favorite hobbies and activities you used to enjoy.
  • You expend greater energy communicating with those directly in front of you than to strangers on the Net.
  • You see others obsessed with the Internet in a different light, with an understanding that they’re creating problems for themselves and those closest to them.
  • When you do use the Internet for legitimate reasons or for your limited entertainment slots, you feel less and less tempted to resume your old habits.
  • You feel a greater desire to go out with your loved ones and socialize with friends, turning down fewer invitations and making more of your own.
  • You look back at your time of addiction to the Internet and see a different person from a different time.