When is too much computer use too much? The amount of time someone spends on the computer does not determine if he or she has a problem. What is considered healthy Internet use varies from one person to another because each person's use of their computer is different. One person may choose to use the Internet to stay in touch with friends and family while someone else might need the Internet for his or her job. However, if you are finding that the amount of time you spend online is interfering with your family, friends, job and other "offline" activities, you may be addicted to the Internet.
Are You Addicted to the Internet?
Since you can't determine if you have a problem from the number of hours spent on the Internet, you need to consider how your use is affecting your life. If any of the following apply to you, then you may have an Internet addiction problem:
- You lose track of how long you have been on the computer.
- You unsuccessfully try to quit or limit your computer time.
- You feel guilty about your computer use.
- You get angry when you can't use the computer or your computer time is interrupted.
- You are having problems completing work or taking care of responsibilities at home.
- You are becoming isolated from family and friends.
- You use the Internet as a way to escape your feelings.
Individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety and/or have another addiction are at a higher risk of compulsive or addictive computer use. Other warning signs include:
- Lack of support network of friends and family.
- A teenager who may feel unsure of him/herself and feel more comfortable on the computer then in real social situations.
- Reduced social activity or a loss of desire to leave the house.
Regardless of the amount of time someone spends on the Internet, a problem only exists if the user feels the need to get online. Healthy Internet users do not neglect their family, friends and work.
If you feel that your computer use has become a problem for you, please contact the MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential assistance and speak to a counselor at (410) 685-7878, ext. 3041, or toll-free at (800) 492-1964.
Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, CAC, is Program Counselor for the MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program.