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 netaddiction.com 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.