Internet abuse is no laughing matter. Sure, it has
become fodder for the countless "You know you're
an Internet addict when..." jokes, but it ceases to
be funny when the joke hits too close to home. I
became enamored of the Internet when my dad convinced me to sign up for AOL. I suddenly had
this incredible tool that let me chat with my sister
everyday and receive e-mail with the click of a mouse.
I am a writer, and this was the ultimate high. I
also reveled in the instant information (and
misinformation) I could get about the entertainment industry.
Soon I was chatting with people I did not know, about subjects I lovednamely television and
movies. My family was affected by the amount of time
I spent online; my children complained how I was
always on the computer and my husband became more than annoyed with my incessant use. I realized I
had a problem when I began to hide my use. I would
log on late at night when the kids were asleep or
during the day when my husband would run errands.
Once I began to realize the depths to which I
had fallen, I made a conscious step to deal with
my abuse. The first thing I did was go cold turkey for
a couple months; I canceled our Internet service.
During that time I became more involved in my
community and church, and started the process to return
to college in the spring. I took the good things the
Internet spurred in me like my love of writing, and
concentrated on them. I also devised a plan to
follow when I eventually returned to the 'net. Part of
this plan was having a purpose for my online time; I
was able to enroll in a couple online courses through
my community college. With this positive use of the
Internet, I became more aware of the time I had
wasted before. Another big change was my avoidance of
the chat rooms. I now kept in contact with family
and friends only through e-mail. Currently, I use trips
to my favorite message board as rewards for assignments completed or articles written.
Use of the Internet can be an incredible
opportunity, and there is a fountain of useful
information that someone can find if she knows where to look.
I use my college database for research on papers and
to get supplemental material that would have taken
me weeks to track down before the advent of the
Internet. I send query letters to magazines and
publications online when possible, which saves time
and postage. I also created my own webpage where I
get to sound off on my favorite topics and post my
Using the Internet can be a wonderful experience
if a person is aware of the dangers and takes
measures not to fall into the void of the bottomless hyperlink.
The biggest help in avoiding Internet abuse is
to have a plan when going online. Setting limits
and spending time with the good things the 'net has to
offer is a good place to start. I was able to turn my
vice into a virtue with a little determination and a lot
of support from family and friends.
Most people can get a handle on Internet abuse
if they admit their mistakes and take the time to
seek out support. Then the Internet can be a virtue
in their lives instead of a vice.
Symptoms of Internet Addition
According to Dr. David Greenfield, who holds degrees in psychology and counseling, close to
100 million people in the United States use the
Internet and conservatively about six percent of those
people are using the Internet compulsively. That
percentage represents literally millions of people. The
following lists ten symptoms of Internet addition.
- Using online services everyday without
ever skipping a day.
- Losing track of time after you make the
- Going out less and less frequently.
- Spending less time on meals and eating in
front of your computer.
- Denying that you spend too much time on
- Frequent complaints from other people
about your constant use of the Internet.
- Checking your e-mail numerous times a day.
- Logging onto the Internet when you are
already busy at work.
- Sneaking online with a sense of relief when
your spouse or family is not at home.
- Feeling depressed when you are not on the
Internet and thinking about it continually.