The Types of Internet Addiction

by Brian Hooper
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

According to reSTART, the country’s first residential treatment facility for Internet addiction, if all of the following applies to an individual, the person might have an Internet addiction: increasing amounts of time spent on Internet activities, computer use interfering with job or school performance, changes in sleep patterns, withdrawing from other pleasurable activities and neglecting friends and family. The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize Internet addiction as a mental health disorder, so it is not included in its “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” as of November 2012.

Cybersexual Addiction

Individuals who are addicted to cybersexual relationships and online pornography represent a new kind of sex addict. Many porn users are drawn to the stealth nature of the Internet. In fact, the Center for Internet Addiction reported that more than 60 percent of its clients are people who wouldn't rent a porn video but are engaging in cyberporn activities, such as visiting sexually explicit adult chat rooms. Internet porn use has been shown to have a harmful effect on the brain. According to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse, Internet addiction can atrophy the brain in a similar way that drugs do to a drug abuser.

Cyberrelational Addiction

Cyberrelational addicts are overly involved in IMing, online chat rooms and social networking sites. According to the Center for Net Addiction, these individuals turn to the Internet for intimacy and sex. This has led some to commit virtual adultery, which according to "The Infidelity Online Workbook: An Effective Guide to Rebuild Your Relationship After a Cyberaffair" is when individuals engage in cybersex without their partner's knowledge and without regard for their partner's feelings. Cyberaffairs have led to divorce in some instances. Moreover, the Center for Net Addiction points out that by isolating themselves and essentially using the Internet as a form of escape, or destressor, addicts have lost their real-life friends.

Net Compulsions

Obsessive online gambling, shopping and gaming are all examples of net compulsions. According to the Center for Net Addiction, these three behaviors follow what the center calls the ACE model; that is, they provide accessibility, control and excitement. The Internet is teeming with virtual casinos, online shopping destinations and online gaming sites. Obsessive computer game playing, in particular, massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs, has been a huge problem around the world. In South Korea, the problem got so bad that the country imposed a “Cinderella law” in which those under the age of 16 are blocked from gaming websites after midnight.

Information Overload

The endless amount of information online has led to individuals spending inordinate amounts of time collecting and sifting Web content. A 1997 Reuters study, "Glued to the Screen: An Investigation into Information Addiction Worldwide," referred to those who engage in compulsive Web surfing and database searches as a new generation of information addicts and dataholics. Prior to that, in his book “Future Shock,” Alvin Toffler used the term “infobesity” to describe an overabundance of information, or information overload.


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About the Author

Brian Hooper has more than 10 years of editorial experience. Hooper has provided editorial services for New York publishing houses and currently writes for Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley. He holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration.

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