Recognizing the warning signs of Internet addiction in your spouse or loved one is the first step in your helping them help themselves. The following warning signs should serve as general guidelines for you to determine whether or not your spouse, family member or friend may have a problem.
Does your loved one:
- Spend a lot of time alone with their computer or Smartphone on a regular basis?
- Become defensive when you confront them with their behavior?
- Seem either unaware of what they have been doing, or attempt to deny it?
- Prefer spending time with their device or on the Internet rather than with other people?
- Lose interest in other, previously important activities, e.g., friends, sports, work, hobbies, exercise, etc.?
- Appear to be more socially isolated, moody or irritable?
- Seem to be establishing “a second life,” with new and different friends whom they met online?
- Spend greater amounts of time online and attempt to cover or “minimize” the screen or hide the Smartphone when you come in the room?
- Talk about their time on the computer incessantly and seem to draw meaning in their life from this activity?
- Exhibit signs that their work or school performance is suffering; perhaps they were fired, grades are slipping or their household responsibilities are neglected?
- Have legal problems as a result of their Internet behavior, e.g., the loss of child custody, divorce , or sexual harassment charges at work due to downloading pornography, etc?
Chatting or Cheating?
If these warning signs sound similar to the signs of having an affair, that’s because they are. Internet addiction is a lot like having an affair, an affair with a computer, along with their relationships formed online. It’s the same process whenever a person withdraws from their main source of support (spouse, friends, family) and finds it elsewhere (in this case, on the Internet).
From “Virtual Addiction” by Dr. David Greenfield, copyright 1999, 2006, 2017