Internet dependence is a term for excessive use of the Internet to the detriment of one’s physical, psychological, social, or vocational well-being. The majority of Americans and virtually all college students now use the Internet as a source of information and entertainment on at least an occasional basis. Most use it on a regular basis without becoming dependent upon it. However, for some, involvement on the Internet begins to have serious, negative consequences. When such consequences are minimized or ignored while Internet use increases, Internet dependence is occurring. Excessive Internet use may revolve around chat rooms, pornography; database searches; blogging; gambling; gaming; shopping; or any number of other online activities.
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You are spending more and more time online. You are spending less and less time with friends or family. You are preoccupied with Internet activities and your next online session. You feel restless or irritable when you are not online. You have lied about your Internet usage or tried to conceal it from friends, family members, or others. Your sleep or physical health is being affected by your Internet usage. Your academic and/or work performance is being compromised by your Internet usage. You use the Internet as a way of avoiding those around you. You use the Internet as a way of escaping from your own feelings. You have intended to cut down on your time online, but have not.
Coping Effectively with Internet Dependence
The first step in coping effectively with Internet dependence is recognizing that the problem exists. As with other kinds of behavior that have become habitual or compulsive, the individual suffering from Internet dependence may not be conscious of the extent to which his or her behavior has become problematic. The fact that the costs of Internet use have come to outweigh its benefits may at first be denied, but this fact needs to be acknowledged.
On one level, Internet dependence is a behavioral, time-management problem. Most individuals dealing with Internet dependence find that it is helpful to alter their routines. They often need to limit the time they stay