Do i have internet addiction

Internet addiction - Better Health Channel

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  • Internet addiction is an umbrella term that refers to the compulsive need to spend a great deal of time on the Internet, to the point where relationships, work and health are allowed to suffer.
  • Medical opinion is divided on whether Internet addiction exists as a mental disorder in its own right.
  • Professional treatment, which may include cognitive behaviour therapy, aims to allow the person to use the Internet properly rather than compulsively.

Internet addiction is when a person has a compulsive need to spend a great deal of time on the Internet, to the point where other areas of life (such as relationships, work or health) are allowed to suffer. The person becomes dependent on using the Internet and needs to spend more and more time online to achieve the same ‘high’.

There is a range of behaviours that can be referred to as Internet addiction. Other terms for this addiction include Internet addiction disorder (IAD) and net addiction.

Generally speaking, surveys suggest that males who are addicted to spending time online tend to prefer viewing pornographic websites, while females are attracted to chat rooms for making platonic and cybersexual relationships.

Internet addiction is controversial

Medical opinion is divided on whether Internet addiction exists as a mental disorder in its own right or whether it’s an expression of pre-existing mental disorders or behavioural problems. For example, a person who compulsively trawls the Internet for online gambling venues may have a gambling problem rather than an Internet addiction.

More research is needed into this ‘chicken or the egg’ aspect of Internet addiction before any conclusive answers are known. A recent study in the USA showed that four per cent of college (university) students aged between 18 and 20 showed problematic internet behaviour.

College and university students may be particularly vulnerable to addiction, yet studies on internet addiction in students typically only use self-selected online surveys, with no control groups for comparison. Sometime survey studies do not give reliable results as they may only study a single class so the data cannot be generalised to a broader group or population, and the construction and use of surveys can produce results that are hard to interpret.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, Internet addiction can include three or more of the following:

  • The user needs to spend ever-increasing amounts of time online to feel the same sense of satisfaction.
  • If they can’t go online, the user experiences unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, moodiness and compulsive fantasising about the Internet. Using the Internet relieves these symptoms.
  • The user turns to the Internet to cope with negative feelings such as guilt, anxiety or depression.
  • The user spends a significant amount of time engaging in other activities related to the Internet (such as researching internet vendors, internet books).
  • The user neglects other areas of life (such as relationships, work, school and leisure pursuits) in favour of spending time on the Internet.
  • The user is prepared to lose relationships, jobs or other important things in favour of the Internet.

Different types of addiction

The categories of Internet addiction include:

  • Sex – the person uses the Internet to look at, download or swap pornography or to engage in casual cybersex with other users. This results in neglect of their real-world sex life with their partner or spouse.
  • Relationships – the person uses chat rooms to form online relationships (‘online dating’) at the expense of spending time with real-life family and friends. This could include having online affairs (‘cyberadultery’).
  • Games – this can include spending excessive amounts of time playing games, gambling, shopping or trading. This can lead to severe financial troubles.
  • Information – the user obsessively searches for and collects information.

Social networking addiction – includes the desire to constantly monitor social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. This includes constantly updating profile posts and checking messages to inform friends of what you are doing at the present moment.

A range of theories

The actual cause is unknown. The current range of theories for compulsive Internet use includes:

  • Personality issues – the user may have personality issues that make them likely to become dependent on a range of things – such as cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, other drugs or the Internet – given the right circumstances.
  • Shyness – people who are shy in real-life situations may be drawn to the anonymity of the Internet and believe they can be their ‘true selves’ when online.
  • Biochemical responses – the person’s brain responds to the online rewards with ‘feel good’ chemicals and this biochemical ‘high’ encourages dependence.
  • Escapism – the Internet is so absorbing that the user can forget about their problems or escape negative emotions while online. Because it makes them feel better, it encourages them to turn to the Internet more and more for relief.
  • Instant gratification – search engines help users find what they want quickly – for example information, gambling opportunities or pornography. This instant gratification encourages them to stay online.

Self-help suggestions

If you think you may be addicted to the Internet and you want to change your behaviour, you could try the following strategies:

  • Take note of your symptoms – for example, keep track of your behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
  • Think about why you use the Internet so much. What makes you go online? Is there a real problem you’re not facing up to?
  • Brainstorm (think about) other ways to cope with your problem that don’t involve the Internet. Choose some that will work and put them into practice.
  • Use relaxation methods like deep breathing or meditation to manage anxiety symptoms.
  • Rediscover the neglected areas of your life – for example, socialise with friends, make love to your partner, take your children to the beach, get out and be active.
  • Seek professional help if necessary.

Professional treatment

It isn’t necessary to quit using the Internet altogether. Professional treatment aims to allow the person to use the Internet positively rather than compulsively.

Internet addiction seems to respond well to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). This type of therapy focuses on changing patterns of thinking and beliefs that are associated with and trigger anxiety. The basis of cognitive behaviour therapy is that beliefs trigger thoughts, which then trigger feelings and produce behaviours. Consult with your doctor for further information and referral. There are also internet addiction support groups available that may help treat your addiction.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Psychologist
  • Australian Psychological Society Tel. (03) 8662 3300 or 1800 333 497

Things to remember

  • Internet addiction is an umbrella term that refers to the compulsive need to spend a great deal of time on the Internet, to the point where relationships, work and health are allowed to suffer.
  • Medical opinion is divided on whether Internet addiction exists as a mental disorder in its own right.
  • Professional treatment, which may include cognitive behaviour therapy, aims to allow the person to use the Internet properly rather than compulsively.

  • Is Internet addiction real? Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association. More information here.
  • Internet addiction disorder: causes, symptoms and consequences, Psychology Department, Virginia Tech. More information here.
  • Christakis DA, Moreno MM, Jelenchick L, Myaing MT, & Zhou C, 2011, ‘Problematic internet usage in US college students: a pilot study’, BMC Medicine vol. 9, no. 77. US National Library of Medicine. More information here.
  • Scherer K, 1997. ‘College life on-line: healthy and unhealthy Internet use’, Journal of College Student Development, vol. 38, pp. 655-665.
  • Anderson KJ, 2001, ‘Internet use among college students: an exploratory study’, Journal of American College Health, vol. 50, pp. 21-26. US National Library of Medicine. More information here.
  • Lavin MJ, Yuen CN, Weinman M, & Kozak K, 2004, ‘Internet dependence in the collegiate population: the role of shyness’, Cyberpsychology and Behavior, vol. 7, pp. 379-383. US National Library of Medicine. More information here.

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Content disclaimer

Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.

Reviewed on: 31-08-2011

Internet Addiction Self-Assessment. Instant Results.


Could you be addicted to spending too much time on the internet—playing games, shopping, or reading articles? If activities like this interfere with connecting to people in real life, take the following quiz to find out whether you may be suffering from an addiction to the internet.

Medical ReviewerMichael McGee, MD

Answer the quiz questions below to see if you or a loved one may be addicted to using the internet.

Who Is This Internet Addiction Quiz For?

Below is a list of questions that relate to life experiences common among people who show signs of problematic internet use. Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.

This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health provider or doctor.

Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns aren't legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.

Your privacy is important to us. All results are completely anonymous.

Take advantage of a seriously POWERFUL survey tool - Alchemer. Please take my survey now

If you think you or someone you care about may be suffering from internet addiction or any other mental health condition, Psycom strongly recommends that you seek help from a mental health professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis and support. We have compiled a list of resources (some even offer free or low-cost support) where you may be able to find additional help at:

Internet Addiction FAQs

How common is Internet addiction?

Most prevalence studies show that somewhere between 1% and 10% of the population experiences Internet addiction. Researchers in Asia, however, have found rates as high as 25%. Most research about Internet addiction has focused on young adults or adolescents, so less is known about the prevalence in older populations.

There is no single measure that all researchers use for distinguishing between normal and addictive Internet use. Also, internet addiction may look different depending on the person, as people are addicted to different facets of Internet use, such as social media, shopping, pornography, or gaming. Internet addiction is also associated with depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health challenges.

How to prevent Internet addiction?

Strategies that focus on self-regulation can be effective at preventing or curbing Internet addiction. For example, monitoring how often you use the Internet, and rewarding yourself for limiting use, can be a part of self-regulation. Internet tools that block certain websites or limit the amount of time you spend on the Internet can also help build self-regulation skills. Therapy that uses cognitive-behavioral techniques can also be useful for preventing and treating Internet addiction.

One challenge to preventing Internet addiction is that most people require some use of the Internet in their daily lives. Organizations can help individuals by creating and promoting cyber wellness programs that educate and motivate people to maintain healthy Internet usage.

What causes Internet addiction, and which generation has the highest Internet addiction rate?

There is no exact cause of Internet addiction. Engaging in pleasurable activities on the Internet (or anticipating them) can trigger a release of dopamine in the brain, and over time, more Internet use may be needed to experience the same effect. Engaging in activities on the Internet that are addictive offline as well (i.e. gambling or shopping) may put people at increased risk for Internet addiction.

Adolescents are thought to be particularly at risk for Internet addiction, but that may be due to a lack of research in older populations. But Internet addiction is prevalent in all age groups, and different age groups may be more at risk than others to some aspects of Internet addiction. For example, online gambling is more prevalent in married men in their 40s.

What are the signs of Internet addiction?

Common signs of Internet addiction may include:

  • Thinking about being online when you can’t be.
  • Struggling to control your Internet use.
  • Lack of interest in socializing with others.
  • Poor performance in school or work due to Internet use.
  • Needing to spend more time on the Internet to feel satisfied.
  • Becoming distressed when you can’t access the Internet.
  • Hiding how much you use the Internet from others.

Physical symptoms that accompany Internet addiction can include head or neck pain, dry eyes, weight gain, poor hygiene, trouble sleeping, and vision problems. Emotional symptoms of Internet addiction may include depression, anxiety, loneliness, agitation, boredom, or mood swings. Though there is no official diagnosis for Internet addiction, you can consider consulting with a mental health professional to determine whether your use may be problematic.

Can a behavioral response to stress cause Internet screen addiction?

Research has found that life stressors, such as family conflict, are associated with Internet addiction. Young people who experience the stress of social anxiety or financial trouble may also be more likely to experience internet addiction. Part of the challenge in studying Internet addiction is that is it unclear whether the stress is contributing to the addiction, or whether the Internet addiction caused the increased stress.

Though Internet use may temporarily relieve stress, it can lead to increased stress over time. For example, studies have shown that time management problems, sleep problems, lack of motivation, low self-esteem, financial trouble, and poor job performance can be associated with Internet addiction. Therapy can help an individual build positive coping responses to stress that don’t involve Internet use.

FAQ sources:

  1. Breslau J, Eyal Aharoni, Pedersen ER, Miller LL, Project Air Force (U.S. A Review of Research on Problematic Internet Use and Well-Being:With Recommendations for the U.S. Air Force. Rand Corporation; 2015.
  2. ‌Restrepo A, Scheininger T, Clucas J, et al. Problematic internet use in children and adolescents: associations with psychiatric disorders and impairment. BMC Psychiatry. 2020;20(1):252. doi:10.1186/s12888-020-02640-x
  3. Ioannidis K, Treder MS, Chamberlain SR, et al. Problematic internet use as an age-related multifaceted problem: Evidence from a two-site survey. Addict Behav. 2018;81:157-166. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.02.017

Notes: This article was originally published February 7, 2022 and most recently updated May 20, 2022.

Scientists explained what happens to an Internet addicted person

Researchers from the Novosibirsk State Technical University studied interpersonal relationships in people with different levels of Internet addiction.

In total, three levels were singled out: independent (there were 36 percent of them, dependent - 12 percent, prone to addiction - 52 percent).

It turned out that addicts and those prone to addiction have a higher level of overall experience of loneliness compared to independent users. What it is? The state of a person, when it seems to him: in his "living" environment there are no people with whom he could communicate closely, he feels lonely. The Internet in this case is a compensation for such communication, but in reality it only contributes to the fact that real connections are more and more torn and the feeling of loneliness increases. nine0003

It is interesting that in Internet addicts, when the obsessive desire to visit the Internet increases, the joy of being alone increases, the need for communication decreases. "This observation suggests that for an addict, satisfaction of one's own need for Internet activity comes first, and not the need for communication." - emphasizes the author of the study Tatyana Levina. "Live" people for the dependent - an obstacle.

Internet addicts carefully establish close relationships, focus on their own interests, can demonstrate rudeness, harshness, are more inclined to demonstrate aggression. Trust in close relationships is a rarity for them. Dysphoria is characteristic of addicts and those prone to them. And this, for your information, is a mood disorder, tension, as well as dreary-evil irritability, which can turn into an outburst of anger with aggressiveness. nine0003

The presence of compulsive symptoms is also characteristic of addicts and those prone to them (such people follow obsessive rituals, unnecessary rules, they may have constant anxiety due to the fact that the Internet will disappear or the battery in the gadget will run out, they are not able to focus on what is really important question, are not able to make a decision at a crucial moment, often look awkward and rude).

Another unpleasant consequence of Internet addiction is withdrawal syndrome - a sharp deterioration in well-being, physical and psychological, if you are suddenly deprived of the opportunity to surf the net. In such a situation, a person generally cannot think of anything else. nine0003

Check if you have an internet addiction

Choose and write down the answer that best suits you for each of the following questions.


1. Not suitable at all (1 point)

2. The poorly suitable (2 points)

3. Partly suitable (3 points)

4. Completely fit (4 points)


1. I have been told many times that I spend too much time on the Internet. nine0003

2. I feel uncomfortable when I am not on the Internet for a certain period of time.

3. I find myself spending more and more time online.

4. I feel anxious and irritated when the Internet is disconnected or unavailable.

5. I feel energized when I'm online, despite being tired.

6. I stay online for a longer time than I intended, even though I planned to "log in for a while". nine0003

7. Although my use of the Internet negatively affects my relationships with people, the amount of time I spend on the Internet remains the same.

8. Several times I slept less than 4 hours because I was stuck on the Internet.

9. Over the past six months (or over the past year) I have been spending a lot more time online.

10. I get upset or upset if I have to stop using the Internet for a period of time.

11. I can't get over the urge to go online. nine0003

12. I find myself surfing the Internet instead of meeting friends in person.

13. I have back pain or other physical discomfort after surfing the Internet.

14. The first thought of going online comes to me when I wake up in the morning.

15. Being on the Internet has caused me some trouble at school or at work.

16. When I'm online for a certain period of time, I feel like I'm missing something. nine0003

17. My contact with family members is reduced due to the use of the Internet.

18. I get less rest due to internet use.

19. Even after disconnecting from the Internet after the work done, I can not cope with the desire to enter the network again.

20. My life would be bleak without the Internet.

21. Being on the Internet negatively affected my physical well-being.

22. I try to spend less time on the Internet, but without success. nine0003

23. It is becoming common for me to sleep less in order to spend more time on the Internet.

24. I need to spend more and more time on the Internet in order to get the same satisfaction as before.

25. Sometimes I can't eat at the right time because I'm on the Internet.

26. I feel tired during the day because I've been online late.

Points (answers) are summed up.

27 to 42 points - Minimal risk of Internet addictive behavior

From 43 to 64 points - Tendency to Internet addictive behavior

Over 65 points - Formed and stable Internet addictive behavior

Treatment of Internet addiction

1 computer addiction is manifested and, in particular, Internet addiction, everyone can say. Much more important is how to treat such an addiction if it has already arisen. This issue is incredibly difficult and painful for many families. nine0003

Some scientists express the opinion that with computer addiction, in contrast to other addictions (for example, tobacco, gambling, drugs), at some point there comes a satiety of the computer. And then a person either cools down to the computer, or it becomes his profession.

For those who stubbornly struggle with the dependence on the computer, on the Internet, such a hypothesis seems encouraging, but is it worth waiting for when this satiety will come? Perhaps during this time a person will “roll down” the social ladder, he will be expelled from the university or he will lose a well-paid job? Or maybe this addiction will lead to the breakup of the family, or will it leave an indelible mark on the child's psyche? Computer addiction needs to be fought, and to start doing it better as early as possible. nine0003

Psychotherapy as a method of treating computer Internet addiction

No matter what they tell you about miracle pills, hypnosis or some other semi-fantastic methods of treating computer addiction - do not believe them! If everything were so simple, then there would be no drug addicts, alcoholics, pathological players, and there would be many times less smokers. The most effective method of correcting computer addiction is psychotherapy. Both individual and group psychotherapy can be used to overcome addiction. nine0003

If there is a choice, it is better to stop at group psychotherapy . The fact is that most people suffering from computer addiction have difficulties in building interpersonal relationships, social adaptation, and working in a group will be another opportunity to improve these relationships. A person suffering from a computer addiction will never agree that he is a computer addict. But when he sees that others with similar symptoms are aware of the problem, he himself will be able to accept the fact that he has an addiction and want to overcome it. nine0003

Children with Internet addiction may need family therapy . After all, dependence does not arise from scratch. The majority of children caught in computer networks have broken family relationships, so the success of treating computer addiction in such children depends on whether relationships in the family improve, whether adults can recognize and correct their mistakes in raising a child.

Stages of correction of computer addictive behavior

It is unlikely that addiction can be corrected in a couple of sessions. Here step-by-step system is needed.

  • At the first step is to overcome the person's objection to having an addiction. He is not yet ready for changes, he may not understand the existence of the problem. Therefore, it is necessary to provide information for thinking about the benefits and harms of a computer and Internet networks, about the presence of computer addiction as such, and that this disease is successfully treated. nine0150
  • The goal of the second stage is awareness of the problem. As a rule, people who finally realize that they have a computer addiction feel depressed. Therefore, here it is necessary not only for a person to understand that he is a computer addict, but also to believe that this can be overcome and that he has support.
  • The third stage is the actual treatment, changing behavior and overcoming addiction, as well as negative emotional reactions arising from this. Taking and simply taking the computer out of the room is not an option, it is necessary that the person himself learns to control the time he works at the computer. nine0150
  • The fourth stage is the correction of family and social relations. They switch to it when a person can already control his behavior. But the risk of a breakdown still exists, in order to avoid it, it is necessary to improve relationships in the family, to make up for free time from the computer with something - for example, communicating with friends, some kind of hobby, visiting a section.
  • The last stage of is overcoming the consequences. The problem of computer addiction as such may disappear, but what it led to remains. These can be problems in the professional sphere, and difficulties in communicating with relatives, and problems in studies. All this also needs to be corrected. And the help of a psychotherapist will not be superfluous here. nine0150

Overcoming computer Internet addiction on your own

How to overcome computer and Internet addiction - this question, as a rule, arises before relatives of an addicted person (parents, wife, husband). If a person himself wanted to overcome this addiction, then we can assume that he has already passed half the way. After all, it takes a lot of time and effort to overcome objections and understand the problem, and in this case, all these incredibly difficult steps are behind us. nine0003

So, what to do? Overcoming computer addiction should begin with overcoming internal resistance. People around see that a person is overly carried away by a computer, only he himself remains blind to his addiction. Screams, threats, requests are unlikely to help. It is necessary to try to reach an agreement, appeal to reason, and real facts should become trump cards.

It is necessary to find a moment when a person is in a good mood and talk to him. It cannot be argued that the computer is a worldwide evil, because it is a source of a large amount of information, and one cannot but agree with this. So you start the conversation with how much good this “miracle of technology” gives us, how much new you yourself have learned thanks to the Internet, and only then tell us about the pathological use of the computer, the symptoms of computer addiction, how it develops, how diverse it is. If your attempts were unsuccessful, contact a specialist (psychiatrist, psychotherapist) to help persuade a computer addicted person or find someone whose opinion matters to him (friend, brother, father). Correction of computer addiction is impossible without the conscious desire of the person himself to overcome it, his active assistance. You need to work in this direction, only you need to do it gently, unobtrusively, so that he feels you are an ally, not an enemy. nine0003

If your goal is halfway achieved and the computer addict decides to overcome it, then you need to do everything to help him. To cope with computer addiction, you need to set yourself 3 tasks and direct maximum efforts to achieve them: