Are You an Internet Addict?

HawkgrrrlMormon 16 Comments

As church members, we have been cautioned about the internet:  ease of access to porn, its mind-numbing addictive qualities, the lack of high quality content, the need to monitor teen and child internet usage.  We have also been told to participate in online forums so that we can represent our own beliefs, and the internet has been likened favorably to a modern-day equivalent of a printing press.  So, when does internet use become internet addiction?

In a recent talk, E. Bednar cautioned us to remember the difference between what is real and what is a simulation.  Are internet relationships real?  Are internet friends real?  Would you know your internet friends if you passed them on the street?  He specifically cautioned against getting lost in fantasy worlds that we have created instead of living our lives in the real world.  And he suggested that using an avatar or false persona to live a double life in which you can break the commandments is dangerous spiritually.

So, how do you know if you are an internet addict?  A site called lists some of the symptoms:

  • Failed attempts to control behavior.  I assume this is just internet behavior, not behavior in general.  Like, I have a hard time controlling my kids’ behavior, but I don’t think that counts.
  • Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities.  Euphoria, not so much.  But my butt has fallen asleep occasionally.
  • Neglecting friends and family.  This one seems on point with E. Bednar’s talk.  Of course, you might be on line WITH friends and family.
  • Neglecting sleep to stay online.  I suppose, but you might also stay up late reading, yet no one accuses people of being a book addict.  They just say you are well-read.
  • Being dishonest with others.  Again, I assume this is specifically dishonesty about internet usage.  Not just, “No, that skirt doesn’t make you look fat, honey.”
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of online behavior.  This could be linked to porn usage, neglecting the real people around us, or even just feeling that internet relationships are less satisfying somehow, like empty calories.
  • Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome.  Wait, you can lose weight throug internet usage?  I did not know this.
  • Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities.  Again, this assumes that other pleasurable activities have been offered.

So, let’s see how bad we are.  This is adapted from the online diagnostic at the addiction site.  Remember, it’s anonymous, so you can answer truthfully, even about your lying:

[poll id = “84”]

Let’s see how many scored in the “at risk” range:

[poll id = “85”]

How do you keep your internet usage from morphing into addiction?  Do you think this is a generational problem?  Were kids of prior eras just addicted to other things that didn’t get a cool name?  Discuss.

Comments 16

  1. I am a member of probably the first generation of people who don’t really remember the Internet not existing… and I honestly have a hard time imagining my own life without using it at all. I have had to take long breaks from the Internet because I was worried about what I thought were addiction-like symptoms. It’s something I have to constantly monitor.

    That having been said, I spend most of my time reading information, news, blogs, and I like to stay at websites that I feel offer higher-quality content. I imagine if I had been born 50 years earlier, my life would be pretty much the same, except the Internet would be replaced by books… socially isolating, expensive, yet quite informational books.

  2. It is not uncommon for our family (those still at home) to be in front of the TV with three laptops hooked up to the internet. At those times, it looks like we are addicted. I’m just not sure to what the addiction is.

  3. Post

    Some of this hand-wringing over “internet addiction” seems like a generational thing to me – like an old guy sitting on a porch in a rocker shaking his cane at the changing world. I’m sure that earlier this century, people were accused of all kinds of addictions that were really just lifestyle changes as new technology became mainstream: telephones, television, microwave cooking, etc. Some people consider virtue to be the provenance of low tech living.

    But I like that the church’s stance has been neutral on technology (well, pro and con both represented).

  4. My thoughts on the internet: if I am at work, it’s amazing how many sites can be interesting, because, compared to work, almost anything is more fun. So my 2 cents are if the site isn’t interesting enough that I would spend time on it on a Saturday, I shouldn’t spend time on it just because I am bored at work. Some days I succeed with this rule, some days I don’t. On the days I succeed, frankly, I hardly visit the internet at all because I really don’t enjoy it that much. It is just an escape from work but not something that is all that much fun.

  5. Since I became an internet addict (although I only checked 3 of the statements, so maybe I’m not one) I’ve stopped watching TV entirely. The internet is my preferred form of vegging out now. I consider that a neutral change.

    I do lack self-control enough that I had to get some software that disables the internet while I’m working.

  6. Post

    The internet addiction website didn’t really talk much about the issue of having more “virtual” life than “real” life, which was the topic addressed by E. Bednar. To me, especially as a parent, that’s even more interesting than addiction per se.

  7. On a more serious note, I do think, at least for my generation (20-30) the internet has the potential to really damage a family. I agree that some of the worry is generational hand-wringing, but I have witnessed in my own family how obsession with facebook, or forums, or blogs, or news sites can cause heartache in our family. For me, though, it is just like any other “addicting” thing that draw us away from our priorities. As long as we remain in control of appetites, no matter what they are, we’ll be okay.

  8. Whether you qualify as an addict or no, sometimes it’s nice to consider conducting a media fast: experience a week (or two or three) with the electric umbilical temporarily severed. Scary idea, I know, but it can be a revelation. Even going for a three day chunk without any screens (tv, computer, pocket toys) is enough to highlight, underline, and capitalize all the things you are NOT doing when you’re online, because suddenly there’s plenty of time and nothing cheap and easy to fill it. My media fast was scattered through with long walks, writing (remember pencil and paper?), home baked music, and other enjoyments that are subtler and deeper than the stuff I get online. For me, it was a welcome reminder that it can be refreshing to occasionally unplug myself and do something a little more direct.

  9. It seems that there are no bad habits anymore there are just addictions. Retreating into a book has long been my coping strategy of choice when the world is just too cruel to deal with. The Internet doesn’t provide the same things.

    I am not addicted. It does not grease the social wheels for me. Now the parts of it that appeal to the compulsive reader in me, that is another story.

  10. You can lose weight online? News to me too.

    Definitely noticing a trend in jobs, schooling, shopping, etc shifting online. The line for what’s considered “addiction” needs to keep getting re-drawn, but when it comes to recreational use there’s probably more negative than positive.

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