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Computer/Internet Addiction

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  1. Computer/Internet Addiction Office of Counseling and Health Creese 201

  2. A New Technology • Rapidly evolving technology • Increased usage • Work • Home • School • What is “normal” usage? • “Computer Addiction” discussed 1996

  3. Addiction defined: • “A primary, chronic disease characterized by impaired control over the use of a psychoactive substance and/or behaviour. Clinically, the manifestations occur along biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual dimensions,” (Schlimme, 2002).

  4. Dependency defined: • “Maladaptive pattern of use characterized by the need for increased amounts to achieve the desired effect, unsuccessful efforts to control its use, and substantial effort expended to seek it or recover from its effects” (Wood & Cacciola, 1997).

  5. Pychological “Internet” Dependency : • Dependency implies • Tolerance – need to spend increasing amounts of time on computer activity i.e. games, files, chat rooms, etc. • Withdrawal – psychological discomfort if not on the internet • Compulsive use – inability to regulate or moderate use…out of your control

  6. Is Internet Addiction real? • "The Internet is unlike anything we've seen before," says David Greenfield, PhD, founder of the Center for Internet Studies ( "It's a socially connecting device that's socially isolating at the same time."

  7. Greenfield’s Research • a 1998 study of 18,000 Internet users who logged onto the ABC News Web site, found • 5.7 percent of his sample met the criteria for compulsive Internet use • participants who met Greenfield's criteria (adapted from criteria for compulsive gambling) were particularly hooked on • chat rooms, pornography, online shopping and e-mail • a third said they use the Internet as a form of escape or to alter their mood on a regular basis.

  8. Research con’t • "addicted" people were far more likely to admit feelings of losing control in their dealings on the Net • other signs include time distortion, accelerated intimacy and decreased inhibition • 83 percent of those who fit the addiction criteria reported a “loss of boundaries” when they used the Net

  9. Con’t • 75 percent of "addicts" said they had gained "feelings of intimacy" • 62 percent said they regularly logged on to pornography sites • average of four hours a week viewing the material • 37.5 percent of that group masturbated while online

  10. Types of Internet / Computer Addiction: • Pornography • Gambling- pinball machines, video games, poker • Web surfer-can’t stop because next site may be better • Chat rooms/online dating

  11. Chat rooms and porn sites • Many studies report a preponderance of male Internet addicts. • Keith Anderson, PhD, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, found out of 1,300 college students - 91 of the 103 students who met his criteria for "Internet dependence" were male • studies on Internet addiction, by Kimberly Young, PhD, find that women are addicted as often as men--just in different ways. • According to a researcher at Stanford University, men prefer visual stimuli and more focused sexual experiences, while women are more interested in relationships and interactions • men and women "addicts" who spent the most time each week online--11 hours or more--said it was their chat room behavior that most interfered with important aspects of their lives.

  12. Signs and Symptoms: Physical • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome • Dry Eyes • Migraine Headaches • Back Aches • Eating irregularities (skipping meals) • Sleep disturbances • Failure to attend to personal hygiene

  13. Signs and Symptoms: Psychological • Inability to stop the activity • Craving more and more time at the computer • Neglect of family and friends • Feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer • Lying to employers and family about activities

  14. Signs and Symptoms: Psychological con’t. • Problems with school or job • Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer • But above all: • A loss of control over use!!!!!

  15. Why so Compelling?In an on-line world… you can • 1. be anyone you want to be. • 2. be part of a group and play a role not possible in “real life.” • 3. have social connections with other gamers/chatters is highly reinforcing • 4. maintain a relationship not possible in “real world” (romantic/sexual)

  16. At Universities • Excessive use leads to: • Rule infractions • Student failures • Academic drop-outs • Lack of “real” social life And in extreme cases… Death from computer game addiction or serious medical problems from marathon gaming without eating or sleeping.

  17. Associated Difficulties • Social Anxiety Disorder • Fear of social or performance situations that evoke anxiety • Avoidant Personality Disorder • Avoidance/reluctance in interpersonal relationships • Depression • Loss of interest in external world, feelings of sadness, lethargy, appetite changes, sleep disturbance.

  18. Treatment • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy • Support Groups • Behavior Management Techniques • 12 Step Program • Medication if appropriate for Depression, Social Anxiety Disorder

  19. Resources: • On-Line Gamers Anonymous • • Net Addiction information • • • • • •

  20. Office of Counseling & Health • Counseling Center • AOD & Health Education Office • Creese Center Suite 201 • • 215-895-1415 •

  21. Screening: To assess your level of addiction, answer the following questions using this scale:1 = Rarely.2 = Occasionally.3 = Frequently.4 = Often.5 = Always. 1. How often do you find that you stay on-line longer than you intended? 2. How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time on-line? • 3. How often do you prefer the excitement of the Internet to intimacy with your partner? • 4. How often do you form new relationships with fellow on-line users? • 5. How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend on-line?

  22. 1 = Rarely.2 = Occasionally.3 = Frequently.4 = Often.5 = Always. • 6. How often do your grades or school work suffer because of the amount of time you spend on-line? • 7. How often do you check your e-mail before something else that you need to do? • 8. How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of the Internet? • 9. How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do on-line? • 10. How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of the Internet?

  23. 1 = Rarely.2 = Occasionally.3 = Frequently.4 = Often.5 = Always. • 11. How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go on-line again? • 12. How often do you fear that life without the Internet would be boring, empty, and joyless? • 13. How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are on-line? • 14. How often do you lose sleep due to late-night log-ins? • 15. How often do you feel preoccupied with the Internet when off-line, or fantasize about being on-line?

  24. 1 = Rarely.2 = Occasionally.3 = Frequently.4 = Often.5 = Always.on’t • 16. How often do you find yourself saying "just a few more minutes" when on-line? • 17. How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend on-line and fail? • 18. How often do you try to hide how long you've been on-line? • 19. How often do you choose to spend more time on-line over going out with others? • 20. How often do you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are off-line, which goes away once you are back on-line?

  25. Results • 20 - 49 points: You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage. • 50 -79 points: You are experiencing occasional or frequent problems because of the Internet. You should consider their full impact on your life. • 80 - 100 points: Your Internet usage is causing significant problems in your life. You should evaluate the  impact of the Internet on your life and address the problems directly caused by your Internet usage.