Addicted to cybersex

What Is Cybersex Addiction?

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Published: April 19, 2022 Updated: November 1, 2022

Published: 04/19/2022 Updated: 11/01/2022

Cybersex addiction, primarily grounded in explicit sexual content online, is a condition in which an individual has an uncontrollable urge to think, emote, and behave in ways that satisfy their sexual desires virtually.1 It’s important to note that “cybersex” refers to all available sexually explicit content online and doesn’t require any action between two people.

Would you like to spend less time on cybersex? A therapist can help you break bad habits and form healthier ones. BetterHelp has over 20,000 licensed therapists who provide convenient and affordable online therapy. BetterHelp starts at $60 per week. Complete a brief questionnaire and get matched with the right therapist for you.

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What Is Cybersex Addiction?

Cybersex addiction is a form of sexual and internet addiction that may also involve an addiction to porn and masturbation.   According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, “’Cybersex’ refers to the enormous amount of sexual and pornographic material on the internet and the anonymous way users can access this information.”

A cybersex addict is an internet user for whom the allure of cybersex has become uncontrollable.1 As with anything that leads toward addiction, the more accessible and socially accepted it is, the greater the risk of becoming addicted. To put it into perspective, more than 5,824,699,200 hours of porn were watched on Pornhub in 2019 (equal to almost 665 centuries of consumed content).2

Although cybersex addiction, also referred to as internet sex addiction, isn’t currently a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it continues to gain attention.

Recent statistics specific to cybersex addiction are extremely limited, likely due to the fact that the condition is not formally recognized. The following numbers, however, do highlight a few concerning numbers:

  • The estimated number of people who have a sexual addiction in the US alone is between 12 to 30 million3
  • Internet porn statistics showed there are about 4. 2 million pornographic websites, constituting 12% of the total websites4
  • Pornographic web pages constitute 372 million hits and daily pornographic search engine hit 68 million searches or 25% of total search engine requests4
  • Over 60% of cybersex addicts have not previously suffered from a history of sexually addictive behavior until they discovered the internet4
  • 66% of internet-using 18-34 year-old men look at online pornography at least once a month 3
  • 70% of internet pornographic traffic occurs during the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday3
  • 33% of men self-report that they are addicted to pornography3
  • 2.5 billion emails per day are pornographic-related in some way3
  •  75% addicts have admitted that they regularly post naked photos of themselves online 3
  • 80% of women who have a husband or partner that has been diagnosed with a sexual addiction suffered from depression in a recent study 3
  • 40% women say that they withdraw their emotional connections to a partner with a sexual addiction3
  • 60% of women developed an eating disorder after discovering the actions of a partner with a sexual addiction 3

Although the precise number of individuals struggling with cybersex addiction is currently unknown, the abovementioned numbers indicate that numerous individuals in the US and globally engage in some cybersex activity. While not all these actions are harmful to self or others, many are and warrant attention.

Forms of Cybersex Addiction

Cybersex addiction can take many forms, including sexual interactions with a cam performer, engagement in fantasy chatrooms, and sexting.

Internet sex addiction can take the following forms:

Mutual Masturbation with Cam Performers

Similar to an adult arcade or viewing a performer through a glory hole (a wall or partition in which one views another engaging in an erotic demonstration), individuals may masturbate to a video performance online. Many websites offer this service for a nominal fee or even free.

Online Activity in Fantasy Chat Rooms

Fantasy chatrooms are an opportunity for interested individuals to explore their sexual fantasies and fetishes in a seemingly safe virtual environment with others who share similar interests. Because many fantasies may be considered taboo and are widely stigmatized, anonymous handles can serve as a seemingly safe means of engagement.

Masturbation to Erotic Stories or Images

Masturbation while reading erotic stories or viewing images is an even more common and can be a safer approach. Here, one need not engage with anyone else but can readily access stories or images, many of which are free, to satisfy their sexual desires. Masturbating several times a week or even daily is common; however, it becomes problematic when masturbation becomes excessive and leads toward physical, mental, and/or social consequences. If one cannot control the urge to masturbate, especially when undesired, this is indicative of a problem.


“Sexting” is a term that combines the act of sexual engagement and texting (or communicating via some form of electronic communication involving text). This may be done via a free or pay-to-hire service or with a consenting partner. Sexting extends beyond casual flirting to sexually explicit pictures and messages. Though the act of sexting itself is not bad, it proves problematic when one is in a committed relationship and engages behind their partner’s back. It constitutes infidelity and has been associated with numerous relationship issues leading up to and beyond divorce.


Teledildonics is a form of cybersex that requires the use of connected sex toys. Essentially, this takes the act of cybersex to the next level by providing opportunities to physically stimulate one another at a distance—replicating traditional physical touch as best as possible.

Alternate & Virtual Reality Sex

Alternate and virtual reality sex allow users to create a unique avatar and live out an imagined sex life. Though these platforms were originally designed as a healthy means to explore one’s “ideal life,” recent programming has provided opportunities for individuals to engage with computer programs or others at a distance to fulfil their sexual fantasies.

Cybersex Addiction Symptoms

Like other addictions, cybersex addiction begins subtly and progresses into an all-consuming condition. Unlike with alcohol and other substance use addictions that may ultimately prove fatal, cybersex addiction impacts individuals differently. Depending on the duration, extent, and type of engagement—along with other environmental conditions (i.e., being involved in a romantic relationship)—symptoms vary.

Experiencing one symptom alone is enough to indicate a problem, although more symptoms experienced with greater intensity are increasingly indicative of a cybersex addiction.

Here are some symptoms of cybersex addiction:5

  • Behaviors having a serious negative impact on the person’s physical and mental wellbeing
  • Effects on their social life (e.g., sufferers may choose to stay at home in pursuit of online sexual activities rather than socialize with friends and family)
  • Effects on their financial wellbeing because they’re not turning up for work or are spending excessive amounts of money accessing pornography, chat rooms, or webcams
  • An obsession with online sexual activities
  • An inability to stop behaviors despite the negative consequences
  • Internet infidelity
  • Behaviors that become more frequent, extreme, and/or risky
  • Sufferers experience feelings of shame, guilt, and remorse, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and in serious cases, thoughts of suicide
  • Difficulty forming relationships with people in real life
  • Intimacy issues
  • Relationships may start to suffer or even completely break down
  • Preoccupation with using the internet to find online sexual partners
  • Frequently using anonymous communication to engage in sexual fantasies that typically wouldn’t happen offline
  • Hiding online interactions from loved ones
  • Using cybersex as a primary form of sexual gratification as opposed to being intimate with a real-life partner

There is no substitute for working with a licensed therapist to reduce the symptoms of a behavioral addiction and address the root causes. However, while online therapy is confidential, convenient, and affordable, some people will not be ready to work with a therapist. If the use of pornography and masturbation is impacting your life and wellbeing but you’re not ready to work with a therapist, consider Stop Together.

Stop Together is a self-guided video course designed to help you understand and address porn addiction. At $49.99, the course is very affordable and has a money-back guarantee. Receive an additional 10% off when you use the discount code “STOPNOW”.

Choosing Therapy partners with leading companies and is compensated for referrals by Stop Together

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Impacts of Cybersex Addiction

Impacts of cybersex addiction can prove substantial, especially if left untreated. It’s important to look beyond oneself toward others who may be directly or indirectly impacted. Especially when in committed relationships, cybersex—even when enacted with virtual programs—may be considered an act of infidelity, which is oftentimes regarded as the ultimate offense.
Further, one should consider that some exotic performers may be unwilling participants, involved in sex trafficking, and/or be dealing with their own host of diagnosable mental health and/or addiction disorders.

Here are the potential impacts of cybersex addiction:

1. Intimacy Issues

When sexual engagement becomes more animalistic than emotionally connected, which is what commonly happens with cybersex addiction, intimacy becomes compromised. Outside of sexual acts, the romantic relationship is empty—devoid of any true emotional connection, which is imperative for healthy relationships.

These issues may either be the cause or result of cybersex addiction; one may be seeking out cybersex due to intimacy issues or may develop intimacy issues after becoming involved in cybersex. Either way, it is likely that there are core fundamental concerns in regard to beliefs and values around intimacy. This minimizes the likelihood of attaining and maintaining meaningful, healthy relationships.

2. Work Is Compromised

Given the all-consuming nature of addiction, all facets of one’s being—physical, cognitive/emotional, behavioral, and environmental—become compromised. Work is no exception. For those struggling with a cybersex addiction, it’s common to continue engaging in this activity while at work—or at the very least—thinking about it to a point that productivity is compromised.

Even if work devices are restricted, individuals may use personal devices to readily access content during work hours, which may result in sexting, masturbating in private spaces on breaks (e.g., the washroom), and perhaps even soliciting the involvement of co-workers. Ultimately, this may lead toward one being reprimanded, fired, and/or facing legal consequences.

3. Relationship Issues

Beyond romantic relationships, friends and family may also be impacted. Again, when the addiction becomes all-consuming, most of one’s focus is on cybersex—most everything else, including friends and family, become an afterthought.

Children of a parent or guardian addicted to cybersex may suffer from them not being present and/or continually fighting with their spouse or partner in front of them, potentially leading toward divorce. Common friends may be forgotten altogether.

4. Contributing to Forced Sex & Human Trafficking

Although many individuals participating in cybersex are consenting, not all are. Plus, any pornographic content involving minors is automatically non-consenting. With the majority of porn accessible online, pornography featuring an overseas trafficking survivor is just a search away.6 Even those who would never intend to participate in actions that harm a minor or involve human trafficking, sometimes do and aren’t necessarily aware.

How to Overcome Cybersex Addiction

Overcoming cybersex addiction is difficult but possible. Given that pornographic content is accessible 24/7 via most electronic devices with internet access, recovery efforts should be intentional and consistent. Although masturbating and watching porn are normal behaviors, the extent to which one engages with a cybersex addiction is problematic. The more effort one makes to abstain by limiting accessibility, the greater the likelihood of recovery.

Here are ways to overcome cybersex addiction:

1. Get an Accountability Partner

Accountability partners could include friends, family, co-workers, support group members, or anyone else willing to help you on the road to recovery. Finding and securing an accountability partner ensures that you’re not alone on the road to recovery. The key here is being honest with others.

When struggling with urges, lapse, or relapse, it’s important to own up to it. From there, the accountability partner may provide useful emotional support, a place to vent, healthy distractions, and resources to help keep you on track.

2. Install Filtering/Monitoring Software On Devices

The more that something unhealthy is around us, especially while attempting to recover, the more likely we are to give in to temptation. Pornographic content is readily available on most electronic devices 24/7, essentially making it one of the most accessible forms of addiction.

Installing filtering/monitoring software on devices limits accessibility by not only blocking the sites themselves but any additional content that might entice one to slip up (e.g., emails, text messages, advertisements, etc.). In the spirit of “out of mind, out of site,” such software can help substantially.

3. Cancel Memberships/Clear Devices That Contain Material That Enables Their Addiction

Again, the further removed the trigger, the better. For those who have memberships to pornographic content or an extensive browser history of such material, it helps to cancel memberships and remove anything that may lead to relapse.

With more serious addictions, it may help to even go as far as changing one’s email address associated with past accounts and resetting the device’s hard drive. This is a serious but important step for anyone intending to take recovery seriously.

4. Remember Who You’re Quitting For

As with any addiction, recovery is optimized when the intention is intrinsically motivated. That is, one wants to quit for oneself. But this is not always the case, especially at first. If cybersex addiction has created problems with romantic partners, family, children, friends, co-workers, and others, remember them.

If there is no current relationship, there probably was at some point. Consider the many ways in which these relationships might rekindle or be improved by recovering. As the relationships improve, there is often more incentive to continue abstaining.

5. Consider Participating in a Support Group

Because cybersex addiction is a growing problem, numerous people from all over struggle with similar issues. Accordingly, support groups have been devised with the intent of providing much-needed support for this condition.

Common group strategies are like other 12-step approaches commonly used to assist those struggling with alcohol and other problematic drug use. 1 Having similar lived experiences, group members benefit from shared stories, coping skills, resources, and holding one another accountable.

6. Seek Professional Help

The most comprehensive manner in which one can address cybersex or any other addiction is by fully engaging in professional help. Whether seeking treatment in a residential/inpatient, intensive outpatient (IOP), or outpatient setting, licensed professionals are trained to deal with associated challenges and are equipped with evidence-based strategies to help you recover.

When to Get Professional Cybersex Addiction Treatment

The sooner the intervention, the greater the likelihood of successful recovery. If you begin noticing the negative impact of any form of cybersex addiction, find a therapist as soon as possible. The benefits of professional help are plentiful, as trained professionals are equipped to help people process the complexities of the condition while supporting them to abstain and engage in healthier alternatives.
Beyond the behavioral component of cybersex addiction, professionals help address everything else (e.g., maladaptive beliefs and values, thoughts, emotions, etc.) to facilitate the type of holistic effort required for optimal recovery.

Those who struggle with other diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health and addictive disorders, co-occurring conditions, or cross-addiction are at increased risk of developing cybersex addiction.1 Accordingly, professionals tend to each of these. For additional information specific to finding a therapist, explore an online therapist directory.

Final Thoughts

Cybersex addiction recovery is difficult, but it is possible. It is important to know that you are not alone. If you find yourself struggling to quit and are experiencing negative emotions or internalized shame, it’s a sign that you need help, which is readily available. The road to recovery begins now.

Additional Resources

Education is just the first step on our path to improved mental health and emotional wellness. To help our readers take the next step in their journey, Choosing Therapy has partnered with leaders in mental health and wellness. Choosing Therapy may be compensated for referrals by the companies mentioned below.

BetterHelp (Online Therapy) – Sexual issues are much more common than you think, and often treatable with therapy. BetterHelp has over 20,000 licensed therapists who provide convenient and affordable online therapy. BetterHelp starts at $60 per week. Complete a brief questionnaire and get matched with the right therapist for you. Get Started (Online Therapy) – Would you like sex to be a source of joy instead of frustration or pain? Try Therapy. The standard plan includes a weekly 45 minute video session, unlimited text messaging between sessions, and self-guided activities like journaling. Recently, they added instructional Yoga videos. Get Started

Choosing Therapy’s Directory – Find an experienced therapist who specializes in sex therapy. You can search for a therapist by specialty, availability, insurance, and affordability. Therapist profiles and introductory videos provide insight into the therapist’s personality so you find the right fit. Find a therapist today.

Choosing Therapy partners with leading mental health companies and is compensated for referrals by BetterHelp and

6 sources

Choosing Therapy strives to provide our readers with mental health content that is accurate and actionable. We have high standards for what can be cited within our articles. Acceptable sources include government agencies, universities and colleges, scholarly journals, industry and professional associations, and other high-integrity sources of mental health journalism. Learn more by reviewing our full editorial policy.

  • Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. (2022). Getting hooked on cybersex can destroy lives, families.

  • Fight the New Drug. (2020). How many people are on porn sites right now? (Hint: It’s a lot.).

  • Health Research Funding (HRF). (2022). 39 Shocking Sexual Addiction Recovery Statistics.

  • Zur Institute. (2022). Cybersex addiction and Internet infidelity.

  • Wolff, B. (2016). Cybersex addiction: Signs, symptoms and treatment.

  • Tennis, T. (2021). Porn and human trafficking: The facts you need to know.

If you are in need of immediate medical help:


Suicide Hotline

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

  • Suggested Resources

    What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families
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    It's Not Your Fault (NACoA) (PDF | 12 KB)
    Assures teens with parents who abuse alcohol or drugs that, "It's not your fault!" and that they are not alone. Encourages teens to seek emotional support from other adults, school counselors, and youth support groups such as Alateen, and provides a resource list.

    After an Attempt: A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member After Treatment in the Emergency Department
    Aids family members in coping with the aftermath of a relative's suicide attempt. Describes the emergency department treatment process, lists questions to ask about follow-up treatment, and describes how to reduce risk and ensure safety at home.

    Family Therapy Can Help: For People in Recovery From Mental Illness or Addiction
    Explores the role of family therapy in recovery from mental illness or substance abuse. Explains how family therapy sessions are run and who conducts them, describes a typical session, and provides information on its effectiveness in recovery.

    For additional resources, please visit the SAMHSA Store.

Last Updated: 08/30/2022

Young K. Diagnosis - Internet Addiction

Psychiatric practitioners are increasingly reporting an increase in the number of patients whose main complaints are related to the influence of the Internet. In August 1999, approximately 83 million Americans were connected to the Internet, and this number is growing steadily. In 2000, it should grow by about 12 million more. With the increasing popularity of the Internet, the number of patients should increase, which can be a serious problem for people, while very little is known about the methods of treatment and the nature of the disease.

Issues of support and development of Internet technologies, previously considered only in the context of the utilitarian use of the Web, should be considered in relation to the mental health of the population. Prevention programs, recovery centers and support groups need to be developed. New areas of research should include the development of standard diagnostic tools for identifying and assessing cyber-addicted people in order to understand the future role of connectivity and the influence of the Internet on other habits (e.g., alcoholism, gambling, sexual complexes) and psychiatric conditions. (eg, depression, manic-depressive disorder, decreased attention span).

We have identified five main subtypes of the main diagnosis "Internet addiction", which characterize what exactly a person is addicted to: cybersex, virtual dating, addiction to online stock trading and gambling, obsessive surfing, and finally, one of the most popular cases, addiction to computer games. For successful treatment, it is necessary that the person realizes that he is sick, after which attempts are made to rid the patient of his sexual complexes, which are often the result of an inferiority complex. It is also very effective to switch a person's attention to his family or teaching various social skills. We have approved a treatment program aimed at the main problems faced by an Internet addict.

The term "addiction" has been borrowed from the vocabulary of psychiatrists to help identify the problem of the Internet by associating it with characteristic social and psychological problems. A total of 1 to 10 symptoms may be observed, which include excessive time spent online, increased anxiety when in the real world, lying or hiding the amount of time spent in cyberspace, or sluggish functioning in the real world. In part, this study proves that Internet abuse leads to social isolation, increased depression, family breakdown, academic failure, financial distress, and job loss.

Such illnesses are often either the result of drug or alcohol addiction, or vice versa, such addiction follows addiction to the Internet.

"Internet addiction" is a broad term for a wide variety of behavioral and impulse control problems. The main five types that were identified in the course of the study are characterized as follows:

  1. Cyber ​​addiction - an irresistible attraction to visiting porn sites and engaging in cybersex.
  2. Addicted to virtual acquaintances - redundancy of acquaintances and friends on the Web.
  3. Obsessive need for the Web - online gambling, constant purchases or participation in auctions.
  4. Information overload (compulsive web surfing) - endless surfing the Web, searching for information in databases and search sites.
  5. Computer addiction - an obsessive game of computer games (shooters - Doom, Quake, Unreal, etc., strategies such as Star Craft, quests).

Qualitative analysis showed that the main factor due to which all these phenomena have become widespread is the anonymity of the individual on the Web.

Especially anonymity is associated with four main disorders:

  • Increased various deviations from the norm, lying and even committing criminal acts such as viewing and downloading obscene or completely prohibited pictures (child pornography), which are widely distributed on many sites. It is important that people who enjoy watching such images, thereby satisfying their sexual fantasies, do not try to contact children in real life. This behavior very often starts as curiosity and ends as attraction. In such cases, psychotherapy is indicated, aimed at normalizing sexual desires in order to reduce the potential risk.
  • A virtual world in which a person feels much more comfortable than in real life poses a threat to the success of real life. In such cases, personal psychotherapy is used, the purpose of which is to reduce the desire to escape from the real world.
  • The interactive components of the network facilitate the creation of cyber addiction, which negatively affects intra-family relationships and the stability of the family as such, which primarily leads to the alienation of people in real life and to divorce. In this case, individual and family therapy is used, in which the spouses work together to reconcile and rebuild the family after the changes in the network.
  • The ability to create alternative online characters, depending on the mood and desire of the user, which creates the opportunity to escape from the real world with its emotional problems (for example, stress, depression, anxiety), or from simple life difficulties (abundance of work, problems in school, sudden unemployment, family disorders). A momentary escape into the fantasy world of the Internet serves as a support for addiction, followed by mood deterioration and psychological disturbances, which are treated with psychotherapy and, if necessary, pharmacological intervention.

The ACE (Accessibility, Control, and Excitement) model, developed by Dr. Kimberly Young in 1999, explains how accessibility, control, and arousal play major roles in the development of Internet addiction.

According to the model, attraction to the Internet develops due to three main factors:

  1. The availability of information, interactive zones and pornographic images.
  2. Personal control and anonymity of transmitted information.
  3. Inner feelings that, on a subconscious level, establish a greater level of trust in online communication.

Models like this make it easier to understand the underlying problems and allow for more efficient treatment planning.
Most importantly, how often young children visit the Internet. The fact is that there is an increase in online pedophilia, which is associated with a certain risk in relation to children. In addition, it should be noted that for the diagnosis of "pedophilia" no examples of molestation of children are required, but the fact that someone entertains various sexual fantasies regarding children is quite enough. In addition, the number of downloaded prohibited images is steadily growing. From a psychological point of view, it is very important to track the relationship between viewing child pornography and the real risk of child molestation. And finally, it is necessary to limit such information to simple examples, to exclude the possibility of hitting such pages by accident, to improve the method of searching the network, and to provide a mandatory warning when hitting such sites.

Making a correct diagnosis is often complicated by the fact that there are no officially approved criteria for determining the degree of addiction to the Internet, however, a system of criteria has already been created, presented in the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association book entitled "Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Mental Disorders ". Of all the diagnoses described in this book, "pathological gambling" can be used as the closest model. Following this model, Internet addiction can be defined as a volitional control disorder not caused by chemicals.

Dr. Yang developed a short test in 1996 to help determine the degree of Internet addiction.

  1. Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (do you think about previous online sessions and look forward to future ones)?
  2. Do you also feel the need to increase the time spent on the Web?
  3. Have you made unsuccessful attempts to control, restrict or stop using the Internet?
  4. Do you feel tired, depressed or irritated when you try to limit or stop using the Internet?
  5. Are you online more than you thought?
  6. Have you ever been at risk of getting into trouble at work, school or in your personal life because of the Internet?
  7. Have you ever told lies to family members, doctors, or others to hide your online time?
  8. Do you use the Internet to get away from problems or bad moods (for example, feelings of helplessness, guilt, irritability, or depression)?

A patient is considered Internet addicted if five or more answers to these questions are positive.

Yang K. Internet Addiction Test. Description, structure, stimulus material

Despite the fact that the Internet is an ideal research tool, students have problems with their studies because they visit irrelevant websites, chat for hours, chat with acquaintances and play interactive games instead of studying . They have problems doing homework, preparing for exams. Very often, they cannot control the time they spend on the Web and therefore do not get enough sleep after nights spent on the Internet.

Marriages, parent-child relationships and close friendships are also victims of the Internet. The time spent with real people often becomes less than the time spent in the society of a computer. In the beginning, addiction manifests itself in the fact that instead of doing such ordinary tasks as washing, mowing the lawn or shopping, people sit in front of the computer. These everyday worries are ignored in the same way as the care of children. For example, one mother forgot to pick up her child from school after class, cook dinner for him, and put him to bed due to the fact that all her time was taken up by the Internet.

Close people are the first to realize that the Internet has taken over a person's mind and at first hope that this will soon pass by itself. However, when nothing changes, arguments against excessive time spent on the Internet begin to be used. Unfortunately, most often this leads to the opposite effect. The addict becomes embittered and tries to defend himself against anyone who tries to limit his use of the Internet. For example, such standard phrases as "I have no problems," or "I'm just relaxing, don't bother me," follow - these are all signs of an established addiction.

Finally, like alcoholics who hide their need for alcohol, people begin to lie about the amount of time they spend on the Internet. All this sooner or later undermines close relationships in the family or between friends.

Dependent people have financial problems. For example, in 1996, one woman spent about $800 in one month paying her bills online. Instead of reducing the amount of time spent online to avoid these costs, people don't stop until the account runs out of money. However, today this problem fades into the background. Whereas providers in the US provide unlimited access on average for only $15 per month or even for free. On the other hand, lower prices lead to more time spent on the Internet because people no longer have to pay for every minute.

Addicts have work-related problems, for example, when they use work Internet access for their own personal purposes. Modern filtering and monitoring systems allow supervisors to monitor employees' Internet use.

One large company was surprised to learn that only 23% of their traffic is for work. However, the advantages of the Internet, such as providing a lot of data from, communication functions, nevertheless, outweigh any resulting negative effects. But the unproductive use of online time creates problems not only for employers and senior managers, but also for Internet-addicted employees themselves.

For example, Edna, a 48-year-old executive secretary, noticed that she chatted too much in chat rooms during work hours. Hoping for help in combating this attraction, she turned to the Employee Assistance Program. The doctor was unable to identify her Internet addiction as a permanent mental disorder and missed this case. A few weeks later, Edna was fired from her job after it was discovered that she spent about half of her working time doing things not directly related to work.

Often bosses don't know how to limit their subordinates' Internet habit and threaten them with dismissals and sanctions, which in turn leads to a rapid decrease in trust between employees.

The physical harm to health from Internet addiction is not as obvious as, for example, cirrhosis of the liver with alcoholism or a high chance of stroke with cocaine use. The health risks associated with using the Internet are minimal, but noticeable.

Usually addicted people try to use the Internet from anywhere at the slightest opportunity, and individual sessions can be up to fifteen hours. Attempts to realize one's attraction under time constraints lead to a tendency to stay on the Internet at night.

An addict usually gets up later than others and uses the Internet until two, three or four in the morning, after which, for example, he does the necessary work until six in the morning. In the most extreme cases, there is the use of coffee and other tonics in order to drive away sleep.

Such sleepless nights contribute to the appearance of constant fatigue and weakening of the human immune system, after which the likelihood of illness increases dramatically. In addition, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to problems with the spine, and improper lighting at night can lead to various eye diseases.

Surveys show that despite the harmful effects of Internet addiction, approximately 54% of patients do not want to reduce their time spent online. Some of them consider themselves completely "hooked" on the Internet and unable to quit this habit. The remaining 46% made several unsuccessful attempts to get rid of addiction. Usually, in these cases, the restriction of oneself to a certain time limit was applied, but these people were not able to comply with the restrictions set for themselves. After that, there were attempts to disconnect from the Internet altogether, throw away the modem, or even dismantle the computer in order to protect oneself from using the Network.

Unfortunately, almost everyone after a while realized that they could not live without the Internet for a long time, like smokers who need a cigarette after a certain period of time. They reconnected to the Web, bought a new modem, and put the computer back together to spend hours on the Internet again.

This turned out to be the most destructive for family relationships. An addicted person begins to make new online acquaintances. In most cases, chatting with online friends is very exciting and often leads to romantic conversations or cybersex. Cybersex and romantic conversations are presented as harmless entertainment, since people can live thousands of miles apart. For all their seeming harmlessness, such entertainment leaves little time for communicating with real people. Finally, addicts continue to emotionally break off their relationship with real people and consciously, more and more, plunge into the virtual world.

Cybersexual attraction has become a specific subtype of Internet addiction. Initially, this is watching pornography and / or engaging in cybersex. Surveys have shown that men tend to prefer watching pornography, while women tend to engage in cybersex.

It is hard to imagine that a husband who has never even visited the adult section of bookstores will download obscene pictures, or a wife who has never thought of calling a phone sex service will visit erotic chat rooms or have sex on the phone with a man she met on the Internet. It's also hard to believe that happy marriages that lasted 15, 20, or even 25 years ended in divorce after just three to four months of cyber addiction. But such cases are far from uncommon and their number continues to increase (it even comes to murders motivated by jealousy: see Internet World # 9(36) 1999, p.13).

The peculiarities of the Internet as a communication medium create very attractive conditions for engaging in virtual sex and the prerequisites for the emergence of dependence on this attraction.

Firstly, the anonymity of electronic communications allows many to secretly visit erotic chat rooms without fear of being recognized or caught by the spouse. Anonymity keeps the place of residence, work and location secret, which cannot be traced even if desired. Typically, cyber addiction starts in chat rooms where people can chat in real time by signing up with fictitious names. It is the anonymity and privacy of the messages sent that can be the first steps towards the emergence of cyber addiction. Very soon, harmless conversations can turn into emotional conversations that develop into virtual betrayal.

Secondly, the convenience of interactive applications (ICQ, chats or role-playing games) turns out to be a very easy way to communicate with other people and get to know each other quite well. It may start as a simple email exchange or chat, but it can quickly escalate into cyber addiction, clandestine phone calls, and actual sexual relationships. It happens that a nosy wife or husband secretly enters a chat under pseudonyms like MarriedM4Affair, Cheating Wife (“cheating wife”) or Lonely Husband (“lonely husband”) only to be amazed at the impunity of others participating in virtual cheating, which does not seem cheating due to lack of physical contact. You should be wary if the husband suddenly begins to demand secrecy while on the Internet, or when an attentive, tenderly loving mother spends hours at the computer instead of taking care of the children.

Many people mistakenly believe that in order to commit cyber infidelity, it is necessary to obtain satisfaction from having cyber sex. Research shows that this is not the case. A wife who feels lonely can escape this loneliness in various chat rooms where she is surrounded by many of her cyber lovers. A sexually unsatisfied husband can transform into a hot lover for whom all women will fight. While sexual sensations will reinforce the initial attraction, a more powerful stimulus - the possibility of escaping from real life with its stresses - will lure a person into a virtual fantasy world. The judiciary has already agreed on the importance of the Internet in the field of mental illness. For example, in one of the cases it was proved that the distribution of pornography on the Web was not so much a desire to satisfy one's needs as an escape from the real world.

How to recognize if a person has cybersex addiction? Unlike open (physical) infidelity, catching a spouse while engaging in cybersex is much more difficult. It will help to identify the first signs in order to then navigate the situation and perform deliberate actions.

  • Sleep changes - chats and other meeting places in the virtual world come alive closer to the night, so the unfaithful spouse will have to stay up late to participate in this. Often such people go to bed in the morning, or vice versa, get up a few hours earlier to exchange romantic letters with their partners.
  • Need for concealment - if someone begins to lie in real life, then this may be a symptom that he is trying to hide his virtual relationship from his family. First of all, this can be expressed in attempts to organize secrecy around the computer and information. The computer can be moved to the far corner of the room to be locked with a key. Also, changing passwords and any other environment should be alerted by its secrecy. If such a person is disturbed while he is online, this may cause him to react in an angry or defensive manner.
  • Ignoring household chores - with the increase in time spent online, the time allotted for household chores decreases and they often remain unfulfilled. This is not an automatic sign of cyber addiction, but if the dishes are left unwashed, the laundry is not washed, then this should serve as a sign that the person’s attention is drawn to something else. Usually, in families, duties are divided between its members, and their failure to fulfill them means that, perhaps, a person has some kind of extraneous relationship that he puts above family ones.
  • Obvious lies - this includes things such as hiding bills from the ISP, phone bills for calls to cyber lovers and lying about the need to use the Internet in such a large amount. Many lie to hide their virtual connections.
  • Changes in character - cyber-addicted people have noticeable differences in mood, behavior compared to behavior before using the Internet. For example, a tender and affectionate wife can become cold and indifferent, while a cheerful and cheerful husband can become calm and serious. If asked about such changes, the answer is likely to be some rational explanation or no answer at all. For people who are addicted to the Internet, such conversations will seem like just an annoying hindrance that prevents them from spending time the way they want.
  • Loss of interest in sex - some cyber addictions turn into phone sex and other sexual activities. When one of the spouses suddenly loses interest in sex, this may be an indicator that some other outlet for sexual emotions has appeared. This can be expressed in lethargy, indifference to courtship and loss of enthusiasm.
  • General indifference to family relationships - these people simply do not want to participate in family life, preferring the Internet to it. They perform their duties as some kind of ritual without any interest. They avoid talking about any long-term plans, do not enjoy joint trips to nature. Often they spend their time with someone else and all their thoughts are focused on their cyber partners and not on real people.

Internet addiction and cybersexual attraction in particular are usually symptoms of an underlying problem that has been present in the family since before the Internet entered the lives of spouses. This problem may include:

  • poor communication,
  • sexual dissatisfaction,
  • disagreements in approaches to raising children,
  • refusal to support family and friends,
  • financial problems.

These are common problems for any family. The presence of such factors increases the possibility of cyber addiction. When two people talk over the Internet, it is comfortable and pleasant - often more pleasant than in real communication. Cyber ​​lovers can type romantic affectionate messages while living thousands of miles apart, but in real life be rude, aggressive, or just plain obnoxious. So far, electronic means of their own imagination can realize all those romantic feelings that people lack when communicating with real interlocutors.

Once a spouse has recovered from cyber addiction, the main goal of family therapy is to restore trust and warmth in the family. Knowing the alarming symptoms listed above will help you notice the onset of cyber addiction in time. Families with problems are most at risk. Virtual relationships are easily elevated to the rank of an idol, which subsequently destroys family relationships and reinforces old problems. To save such families, psychologists must help spouses recreate an atmosphere of intimacy and trust. At the same time, it is necessary to carefully pay special attention to the role of the computer in family failures.

The Internet itself is a neutral medium, originally intended for research and military purposes. Now the discussion about the dangers of the Internet is quite serious. Considering the global network from this point of view is a new phenomenon that is almost not studied. Some psychiatrists are not well-versed in this area and cannot understand the complexity of this dangerous addiction. On the other hand, the impact of the Web on personal life can be minimal.

In conclusion from the editors of "Internet World":

Dr. Kimberly Young has a sufficient number of critics. Some are sarcastic about the fact that help for online addicted patients is provided in an online virtual clinic. Others argue that Dr. Yang is exaggerating and that there is no more pathology in the addiction to the Net than, say, in aircraft modeling. However, even an aircraft modeler can reach such a state in his hobby that his behavior can hardly be called normal (although the concept of “norm” is a rather delicate issue). And there are such people, they are often called "obsessed", but there are not many of them. In the end, it is possible to peel off ordinary cabbage and die, but no one declares it a drug or poison.

The Internet, as Dr. Yang shows, has a huge attractive potential, that is, unlike the same aircraft modeling, it has the properties of a drug, and, unlike cabbage, it can be consumed in dangerous quantities without feeling discomfort.

For Russia, such forms of Internet addiction as compulsive gambling on the stock exchange, participation in online auctions and uncontrolled purchases in online stores are not relevant yet. The rest of us are spreading quite quickly. Even, perhaps, faster than in the West, since in Russian conditions the factor of flight from real life manifests itself more strongly.

After reading this article and discovering some of the symptoms described in it, many will probably perceive it negatively. It is not always pleasant when they say that you are not all right with your head. Nevertheless, according to classical psychoanalysis, the first and main step towards cure and prevention is the awareness of the presence or danger of a disease.


  • Cyber-Disorders: The Mental Health Concern for the New Millennium - Kimberly Young, Molly Pistner, James O'Mara, and Jennifer Buchanan. 107th APA convention, August 20, 1999. University of Pittsburgh.
  • Internet Addiction: Symptoms, Evaluation, And Treatment - Kimberly S. Young. University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
  • Cybersex and Infidelity Online: Implications for Evaluation and Treatment - Kimberly S. Young, James O'Mara, and Jennifer Buchanan. 107th annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 21, 1999. 107th annual meeting of the American Psychological Association,
  • Kimberley S. Young Tangled in the Web: Understanding Cybersex from Fantasy to Addiction, Breaking Free of the Web: Catholics and Internet Addiction and others.

    She is the founder of the Center for On-Line Addiction. Center established in 1995, advises psychiatric clinics, educational institutions and corporations dealing with Internet abuse.

    Through her scientific work and active practical work, Dr. Yang has become known all over the world. Her research has received extensive media coverage including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and U. S. News & World Report, national broadcasters of various countries.

    See also:

    • Yang K. Internet addiction test
    • Burova V.A. Internet addiction in the medical paradigm
    • Burova V.A. Socio-psychological aspects of Internet addiction
    • Yurieva L. N., Bolbot T. Yu. Computer addiction: formation, diagnostics, correction and prevention
    • Method for screening diagnostics of computer addiction Yurieva L. N., Bolbot T. Yu.

    addiction cyberpsychology cybersex

    Virtual sex: pros and cons

    Virtual sex is one of the fastest growing addictions of modern man. At the same time, it is obvious that the concept itself is still new and the peak of its development is ahead.

    Present and future for the first time offer a person the experience of communication without direct physical presence. In the past, it was impossible to exist in society without the practice of real communication, which forced even the most notorious people to acquire communication skills. And now you can live in a densely populated city and not communicate with anyone for almost years: order food on the Internet. So virtual sex, which seemed exotic a few years ago, is now regarded by many as a full-fledged relationship.

    According to a study by Francisco Alonso-Fernandez, president of the European Society for Social Psychology and chair of the Complutense University of Madrid, author of the book Social Attachments, more than 7% of Internet users worldwide are addicted to cybersex. Virtual sex is a broader concept that includes phone sex, while cybersex, according to Wikipedia, is "a type of virtual sex, in its simplest form, which is masturbation in front of a computer monitor, where excitement comes from contemplating erotic images in combination with interactive communication on the Internet on the topic of sex".

    There are obvious benefits to cybersex:

    - Satisfies sexual needs without the risk of getting pregnant or contracting infections,

    - Allows teenagers to safely experiment with sexual thoughts and emotions,

    - Allows people with HIV to satisfy their sexual needs,

    - Allows people who are far apart to maintain an intimate relationship,

    - Allows you to realize the most extreme fantasies, including BDSM, bestiality, pedophilia, etc.

    Alonso-Fernandez explains people's attachment to cybersex by three factors: "Accessibility - that is, the ability to do it 24 hours a day in millions of different places; openness, which is determined by the legality and low cost of such services, and anonymity."

    But, like everything new, there are also serious drawbacks in virtual sex. After all, cybersex is not always limited exclusively to sex - sometimes such relationships are transformed into a real romance, and there are even cases when the virtual affection of one of the spouses led to a divorce. At the same time, dependence on the Internet can be combined with virtual addiction, and the number of people involved in cybersex is growing on Earth every day.

    "More than 50% of Internet users who have sex online have become addicted to excessive practice," says Alonso-Fernandez. characteristics.First, a large amount of time is devoted to this activity.Second, there is an impulsive desire to have such sex when a person loses control of himself and shows irritation at the impossibility of obtaining the desired pleasure. Third, a general poor state of health before the stimulating impulse and the satisfaction that follows after the act, coupled with guilt and low self-esteem.And finally, the systematic repetition of all three of the above, with an avid user of cybersex showing a negative attitude towards their environment: at home, in society, and even at work.

    Most of those who are "addicted" to cybersex do not have sexual contacts outside the network. Plus, such people have deviations in behavior, other addictions (sexual or chemical), depression, stressful situations, anxiety. Half of the lovers of virtual sex eventually lose interest in a partner in real life, if they have one. On the other hand, at any moment the "virtual" can understand that, in fact, it is still alone. This awareness can have various unpleasant consequences. It is possible to treat addiction to cybersex with the help of pharmacological agents and psychotherapy; a complete ban on the use of a computer and the Internet is likely.

    Learn more