Internet Addiction

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Our online course, Internet Addiction:

Guidelines: Internet Addiction:
  • Studies estimate that Internet addiction effects 5 to 10 percent of the population.
  • Internet addiction can be hidden by overt signs of depression and anxiety, masking how much time a client spends online. Therapists often overlook the symptoms of Internet addiction so that the disorder goes undetected making related problems worsen.
  • Chat rooms and instant messaging are the leading reasons why people become hooked on the Internet. When asked about the main attractions of using these direct dialogue features, 86% of online addicts reported anonymity, 63% accessibility, and 37% ease of use made these interactive applications more attractive.
  • In a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 63% indicated that the Internet played a significant role in divorce. Almost 80 % of the attorneys said that incriminatory emails had been part of divorce proceedings, while 65 % said computer and financial spending records had been incorporated into divorce records.
  • Although online interactions are purely text-based conversations, the exchange of words empower a deep psychological meaning as intimate bonds are quickly formed among online users. In Cyberspace, the social convention of rules of politeness are gone, allowing personal questions about a person’s marital status, age, or weight to be asked upon an initial virtual meeting. The immediacy of such open and personal information about oneself quickly fosters intimacy among others in the community.
  • Among many online addicts, cybersex is perceived as the ultimate safe sex method to fulfill sexual urges without fear of disease such as AIDS or herpes.
  • Those who suffer from low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or frequent disapproval from others are at the highest risk for developing an addiction to the Internet.
  • Addicts report a sense of being able to “unlock parts of themselves which have been submerged” in their real lives, through online personas. The ability to unlock repressed aspects of the self can take on various forms. In Cyberspace, a shy person can become outgoing, a non-sexual person can be sexual, a non-assertive person can be forceful, or an aloof person can be gregarious. Addicts are able to play out parts of themselves that they fear or hate to consciously confront such aspects.
  • Treatment for Internet addiction utilizes cognitive-behavioral techniques specialized to meet the needs for moderating appropriate computer use with a focus on abstinence from problematic online applications.
Sign up for topical updates and invitations to participate with Dr. Zur