We are living in exponential times. Over one billion people in the world have access to the Internet. The population of the United States in 2006 was 299 million. Approximately 220 million Americans now have access the Internet and 40% have high speed access. Children go to the Internet for information, entertainment, relationships and support. The number of text messages sent each day is greater than the population of the world. If MySpace were a country, the number of registered users would make it the 11th largest country.
Americans are going on-line looking for information, entertainment and relationships. Use of the Internet (also called the Net) has grown faster than any technology in history including the telephone, television, computers, video games and CD players. The Net provides everyday users with primarily the Web, e-mail, instant messaging, live chat and the ability to purchase goods and services on-line.
People are naturally skeptical when they hear someone say there are problems when using the Internet. Here are several important research facts.
- Women are now on-line more than men.
- 50% of the people on-line lie about their age, weight, job, marital status and gender.
- 20% of the people going on-line will experience clear negative impacts to their life.
- Use of the Internet is a contributing factor in nearly 50% of all family, relationship and family problems.
- 11% of the people going on-line are becoming compulsive or addicted.
How could anything that feels so safe and innocent looking be unhealthy for so many people? Feeling good and not realizing the problem is precisely the problem. People can go anywhere, see almost anything, find out virtually anything, do anything and be anybody they want. They act out in ways that are exciting and they can do without leaving their chair or being with a real person. Accountability, supervision and social consequences are missing in a virtual society.
The potential problems for new Internet use are significant and may be growing. Nearly 20% of the people going on-line will encounter one or more of the following problems.
- Personal neglect
- Compulsive checking and “clicking”
- Isolation and avoidance from people
- Lost productivity
- Marital problems
- Sexual addiction
- Gambling away savings.
- Internet abuse in the workplace
- Academic failure.
Are You Compulsive or Addicted To The Net?
Using the Net is not a problem for Internet users who are on-line less than two hours a week. Heavy users are at risk when they are plugged more than 18 hours a week. There is no official diagnosis for an addiction to the Internet. The proposed disorder is called Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). There is rather exact criteria proposed but it essentially easy to spot a problem. A compulsive and potentially addicted user is on-line more than 10 hours a day in non-work related activity. Answering the question “Am I addicted?” is based on four questions.
- Do you feel better when you are on-line, chatting, or exploring the Net?
- Are you or have you been spending more and more time on-line?
- Are you on-line when you should being doing something else?
- Have you tried to cut back and don’t?
You probably have a compulsion if you feel a strong need to get on-line when you should be doing other things in your life. For instance, “Are you forgetting to eat?” Or, “Are you getting up at 3 a.m. in the morning to go to the bathroom and checking your e-mail before you go back to bed?” Checking e-mail at night when no one else is up and for no reason is a compulsion. You may even have early signs of addiction if you feel a need to be on the Internet more and more and feel worse when you stop.