Pick your poison: Victoria’s Secret.com? HSN.com? What about eHarmony? AIM? Steamy chat rooms? While the term Internet addiction conjures pictures of old men gawking at pornography sites, studies show that women, just as much as men have addictive tendencies online.
Cultural gender stereotypes online don’t deviate from the realistic social tendencies between men and women. Common online addictions for men include gaming, gambling and pornography. While women tend to be addicted to online shopping sites, chat rooms and instant messaging, according to Harry Croft, Health Place.com Medical Director.
Googling the cheapest Kate Spade bags for a few hours, then dominating a couple hands of online black jack for few hours is completely normal, right? How do you know you’ve gone overboard? How do you know when you’re addicted to the Internet?
When it comes to excessive Internet use, many may attempt to measure the amount of spent online as an indicator of online dependency. However, researchers say an Internet addict is measured by the degree of their dependency rather than time.
“It is important to note that it is not the actual time spent online that determines if you have a problem, but rather how that time you spend impacts your life,” said Dr. Kimberly Young, author of Caught in the Net.
“If you find that you are using the Internet as a means to regularly alter your mood you may be developing a problem,” Young said.
How do you know if you’re getting carried away on the web? Here are tips for identifying and changing your potentially addictive behavior:
-Clicking to Cope:
While Internet addiction is not an official mental health or medical disorder, those who seek happiness online and use the Internet to cope with emotional issues possess addictive traits.
If you have to drag a child, partner or friend away from the screen, if they continuously assure, “just ten more minutes,” or if they get irritable when forced to part with their PC, you may have an addict on your hands.
-Right up an Addict’s Alley:
Ironically, there’s a test online to help determine if you’re an Internet addict. How often do you form new relationships online? Do you check your email before doing something else? These are a few of the questions that help gauge if you’re an average or addicted user.
-Wane from the Web:
To help limit Internet usage start by setting a time limit. The modern workplace consists of employees staring at a computer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; blinking optional. To make it worse, post-work wind downs consist of watching a rerun of your favorite prime time drama online. Before you know it, 10 p.m. rolls around and you’ve been staring at a computer screen for 12 plus hours. To start, limit yourself to three hours online per day for a few days. Set a timer when you hit your homepage and shut down your computer when the timer goes off. If you find yourself craving for an extra half and hour and giving in, you may classify as an addict.
The bottom line comes down to the reason you’re spending so much time online. Dr. Hilarie Cash of Internet and Computer Addiction Services said “a heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities” is the very basis for addiction. Stopping the addiction starts with acknowledging the problem, identifying the source and seeking help.
Croft and Young: http://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/Internet/symptoms-Internet-addiction/menu-id-54/
Lauren Misak is a journalist graduating this May from The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is passionate about health-related issues and has experience writing for state-wide publications.