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How to cope with being ensnared by the internet:the symptoms and consequences of internet addiction

Updated on July 26, 2016
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Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.

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Love it or hate it, you cannot live without it. The use of the internet for school, work and social purposes has made it an uncomfortable yet necessary companion. The net is a means of communication and is a tool that you cannot do without, yet It makes you susceptible to addiction.

Indeed, the internet is now a firmly entrenched, undeniable part of life. It is so compelling for some people that their use has grown into an unhealthy obsession. You may not be aware that you have developed the addiction yourself. How do you spot the signs that your internet use has become an obsession and how do you stop it?

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Teens represent a group that displays one of the highest tendencies for internet addiction.Teachers of youth brush often with the evil face of the internet. They surface in less threatening forms; students absent themselves from school because they spent the entire night online. Some forms of internet addiction may be more serious in nature, including the obsession with less healthy adult sites.

To relate a personal story, I discovered a student’s internet addiction when he gave me a thumb drive supposedly containing a project that I had assigned for presentation in English class. He did not realize that it was the wrong thumb drive and I stumbled upon his rather uncomfortable secret of addiction to internet pornography and adult sites.

The required action was taken and the child, a sixteen-year-old, was given mandatory counseling. His parents, not aware that their child was so drawn to the internet, were given suggestions for limiting his use.


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Forms of internet addiction

Loosely described, internet addiction would, of course, mean excess access to the web. However, internet addiction can be divided into a few broad categories.

Internet addiction: adult sites

Adult sites lead to sexual addiction, and unique challenges on the net make it difficult to combat. These include the anonymity, privacy, and ease of access to these websites. Sexual addiction is something that is easily hidden from others because one can spend hours in a room logging on to unhealthy media and indulging in fantasies that are impossible in reality. Compulsive activity can lead to the damaging of physical relationships, career, and even one’s emotional health.

Internet addiction: Online gambling

We are all aware of the problems that gambling can present. Internet gambling has heightened them in many ways because it has made it difficult for recovering addicts to kick the habit. Those who do not live near casinos or race tracks find it easy to place bets and gamble online. Numerous relapses of gambling addiction can occur.

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Internet addiction: cyber-relationships and cyber bullying


More and more teens and young adults are using the internet as a means of socializing and forming friendships. Indeed, friends made over the web can become even more important than those made offline.

I have seen teenagers take these relationships all too seriously. They become excessively upset when someone online makes an offensive remark. There are many cases of students who refuse to come to school because they had altercations online the night before; this is one of the unpleasant consequences of excess internet use.

Many romantic relationships form online, and success stories emerging from these relationships are plenty. The internet is a fantastic place to interact. However, online relationships can become too intense owing to high levels of privacy and secrecy. They can be deceptive; people lie about the weight, job, age, and even put up false photos or avatars of themselves on social networks. Profound emotional disappointment arises when one party discovers that the other is not who he made himself out to be in person.

Other net compulsions

Trading in stocks over the internet or online shopping on a site like eBay are internet activities that can turn into addictions. It is not unknown for eBay addicts to get up at odd hours to catch the final hours of an auction. They experience the things they don not need much of the time to satisfy the feeling of winning the bid. It is also not foreign to hear of excessive dabbling in stocks over the internet.

Compulsive gaming is also common among the young of today, who isolate themselves for hours at a time participating in virtual reality or fantasy games, neglecting homework, friends, and family.

Signs of internet addiction

Signs of internet addiction

You may have a child or someone in the family who is a rather heavy internet user. You may be active netizen yourself. How can you tell if our netizenry has become an obsession?

Losing track of time

If you find yourself losing track of time when you are online, the Web may have trapped you; Getting irritated or snappy when your time on the net is interrupted is a sign that you are devoting too much time to it.

Having trouble completing other tasks.

Many teenagers compromise school activities and homework for the internet. Finding that you have uncompleted takes because you have spent too much time on the net is a clear sign that you have an undue attachment to it.

Avoiding social activity

You may find yourself avoiding family or other social events because you have to spend your time online. You may feel that no one in your life, understands you as well as the friends you make on the web. Prioritizing Internet relationships over physical ones signals excess internet activity.

Guilt of defensiveness

A sign that you may be addicted to the internet is when someone tells you to ‘put that phone down’ when you are eating or when you are in the midst of a conversation. Out of guilt, you may get into an argument with them over the situation.

However, what they say about you being too attached to your smartphone or IPAD may not be off the mark. If you react defensively in the face of their accusations, you may be more obsessed with it than you think.

Unexplained happiness.

When you draw the most pleasure from being online than anywhere else, it may mean that you have used it a bit too much. You may have become part of the virtual world and lost some touch with reality. If the internet is the only outlet you have for our frustrations, you may have an addiction. When you try to limit our time on the net but fail, it may be too high on our priority list.

Physical Signs of Internet Addiction may include:

  • Carpal Tunnel’s Syndrome or pain in the hands and wrists, an ailment suffered by many who have to spend hours using the computer
  • Dry eyes and worsened vision
  • Backaches and neckaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Pronounced weight gain or loss


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The consequences of internet addiction

Internet addiction may seem like a trite, poor habit, but it can have severe consequences.

A person with internet addiction may have adverse social relationships or even engage in antisocial behavior. I have had students who were internet addicts repeatedly hack my facebook account.

It can give a person a deluded view of romantic relationships.Those who repeatedly access adult sites may slowly develop a deluded view of sexual interaction and relationships. Further, too much time spent on the internet at the expense of work will have heavy consequences for one’s career.

Some groups of people tend to spend more time on the computer for various reasons, making them more prone to the snares of the adverse side of the web. These groups are

Teenagers, whose need for friendship drives them to make friends via social media;

People prone to depression,anxiety attacks or anxiety issues;

People who have had prior addictions;

Those who are home bound and less active

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Coping with internet addiction

This depends on whether it is for yourself, a child or helping another adult cope with the negative effects of being too drawn to the internet. There are many ways we can help ourselves and others cope with the obsession.

Self Help

  • Ask yourself what you are missing out on when you spend too much time on the net. You may find that there are many activities you could be doing.
  • Set user limits for yourself and take frequent breaks from the net.
  • Mix with those who cannot care less about the net. This will raise awareness that there are other things to do than be on the web!
  • Make sure you stay connected to the outside world. Set aside time for shopping and other offline activities.
  • Remember that the internet is a tool that should be used for the correct purposes.

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Helping a friend with internet addiction

If the person ensnared by the web is your friend, there are a few things that you can do to get him back on track.

  • Be a good role model and use the internet sensibly yourself.
  • Introduce your friend to others who role model the sensible use of the internet.
  • Get your friend involved in activities unrelated to the internet to help him to become aware that there are possibilities other than being online.
  • Support them in their change if they really want to and strongly encourage them.

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Tips for managing a child’s internet use

If you have a child who needs help managing internet addiction, there are a few things you can do help him steer it.

Have a chat with your child about his internet use. Find out why he is spending so much time on the computer. There may be underlying reasons, like an escape from reality or inability to manage social relationships online. Find out what he is addicted to, be it gaming or online friendships. Explain to him or her why you will have to step in and regulate his internet usage, without launching personal attacks.

Move the computer to the living hall or an open area. Doing this will enable you to see what your child is doing on the internet, and slowly discourage long hours on the web. Set a password that only you will know and access. The child will slowly become discouraged from excess internet usage because he has to seek your approval before using the computer.

Establish the rule that the internet can only be used for education. Be sure though, to check that your child really is using the net for that purpose. He may use the time instead to play games or socialize.

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Set rules that the computer may only be used for a certain period of time. If he cannot control his addiction, use a timer.

Be aware of what your child is doing on the computer. Check the browser history to see what websites he is visiting. Do not, however download software that may be an infringement on privacy rights.

Set boundaries. Assign chores or take away privileges if your child is spending too much time using the computer. If you have more than one computer, then monitoring them may be necessary to see if your child is not secretly using them.


Helping someone to overcome his addiction may put you in situations where there may be tussles over privacy issues. Do remember to respect privacy, while maintaining the need to help the sufferer over come the addiction.

If helping yourself to over come an addiction, do not lose heart. As with many addictions, this is one that can be over come with determination.

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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      The internet can be an engaging, useful yet ensnaring too. When used too often, it creates the symptoms of internet addiction. Here’s how to spot internet addiction and how to cope with it. 


    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Wow, Michelle we joke about this sometimes, but the sad reality is this totally be a real infliction and you did a great job explaining it with the symptoms, causes and even how to treat this, too. Truly wonderful and detailed read. Thanks for sharing and have of course, voted up, shared and tweeted as always!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It's a terrible thing, internet addiction. I joked about it with you before, but have have witnessed a student abusing his mother simply because she confiscated his computer. He made such a big fuss about it that she bought him an IPAD later! And he's been taking advantage of her kindness since. He's displaying the symptoms of internet addiction indeed. Hope he eventually gets some help! Thanks for coming by!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent, comprehensive article about Internet addiction, midget!

      I am definitely addicted to HubPages and FB... Oh boy!

      But I am just as addicted to reality and all the wonderful To-Do's with my friends and family.

      So I guess I may say I am coping?

      Voted up and awesome :)

      And I'm off now to enjoy a nice Sunday afternoon nap :)

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      ignugent17 4 years ago

      It is true Michelle. You got it right. This is very helpful. We need to have a break sometimes.

      Voted up and more! :-)

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Excellent information. I think many people are obsessed with social networking sites these days.

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      Justsilvie 4 years ago

      Well done Hub! Working from home and with a computer the danger is enhanced. But I am also finding out shuting it off get's easier and easier and there is so much of life we miss when we don't

      Voted up and shared.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Martie! Yes, it's easy to be addicted to Hubpages and FB, at the rate we have to use it. Great that you're addicted to the family too, for they should be your first addictions! Thanks for coming by and sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, we do Meldz. Especially when using the net. If we don't break, we'll have a breakdown! Thanks for coming by!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Too many, Love Doctor! I hope this gets to them as well. Thank you!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Totally agreed...when all we do is use it, it can get naturally tiresome anyway! Thanks for the insight, Justsilvie

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A great look at internet addiction. I ran into this as a teacher, of course, and it is a tough nut to crack. Often the parents are unaware, and it is such a tough thing to prove because we are not home with the students monitoring their behavior. The internet porn sites are so numerous, and so disgusting, and the sexual predators are so many in number....I can understand why it is addictive and I can also understand why it is such a tough addiction to break.

      Great job Michelle; sharing.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for sharing, Bill, this needs to get out to the parents of teens, especially. I had them very much in mind when I wrote this, because I have seen so many cases of it. A kid I know even abused his mum, beat her, just because she wouldn't get a computer for him. Nasty! Thanks for sharing!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      The shame of it all Michelle is you're preaching to the choir. We need to get your hub in schools and classrooms where the addiction and bad behaviors start...so many parents are unaware of what their children are doing on the computer and need to be made aware. This would be great in a parent handbook!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      That's so true, Mary. So many bad behaviors start behind computers and parents aren't aware of them! Let's hope this will get through to them. Thanks for coming by!

    • sereseus profile image

      Albin Pius 4 years ago from kerala,India

      Great hub.You have greatly acknowledged different forms of addiction.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, sereseus! Glad you think so!! Thanks for coming by!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Yikes! I'm addicted! I didn't know!! I don't know how Josh did it, is just the thing that we cannot leave the net and say, "good bye!"

      You did a good job and pointed out some consequences. Great read, and I will have to take a break every now and then.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      I must say that after reading your article I am internet addicted. But it does pay me well.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I think you're fine, Joseph, don't worry there! LOL! Yes, we need a break, especially with writing when everything can seem a la minute. Comments, etc, can come at any time, so we've to stop and say, hey, we need a rest no matter what! Thanks for coming by, my friend!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      The internet certainly has many uses, Lipnancy, and when done in moderation can certainly be a great tool! Thanks for coming by!

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      A very useful and good hub, with the world completely on the internet all the time for everything, even relationships are maintained over the internet, a sad truth. This hub will really help many people realise the effects of internet addiction!

      Thank you for the hub. Voted up, useful and sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it's frightening, Dahlia, and that's why I wrote this. Hope that people out there realize how consumed we are by the net. Thanks for coming by!

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      A well-written hub with wise insights & helpful suggestions. Internet addiction is on the rise these days and people need to control this to an extent. Well-said!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & shared

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      You did a fine job on this Hub! I have friends who definitely are addicted to the internet. In the early days of my having a computer and the internet, I spent far too much time playing Solitaire!

      The internet has the ability to "suck you in", and a person can certainly become addicted.

      Voted this UP, etc. and will share.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Ish! Some are addicted without even knowing it. We know we are addicted when we cannot go anywhere without being on the net, on our cellphones. All too common! Thanks for sharing, my dear.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mary, I am sure your friends may have cells around all the time. It's so common, because we need the net for this and that. It sucks you in, and the danger is, you don't even realize it! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 3 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      This is interesting. I think I may spend to much time on hubpages...lol. Great hub!

    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Being the victim of 'Internet Addiction' is not uncommon now a days.At some point or the other we all find ourselves fully dependent on internet these days. But yes, we should set a limit for internet surfing or use otherwise it would soon change into a disease.Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 3 years ago

      I suppose any activity that we can derive pleasure from has the potential to become addictive, and the Internet is no exception...a really well written and researched hub...thank you Michelle:-))

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      After reading this one again, I had to come back and repeat the comment I have left you in FB, because it is so relevant in here - I was thinking, IF my doings on the Internet is a form of addiction, then I am in fact addicted to my work, my home, my loved-ones, my BF and as a matter of fact to LIFE.... Just call me passionate about everything I do... I LOVE doing most of the things I do.... Mmmm, I am definitely not addicted to homework - definitively allergic to everything to-do in the kitchen... lol!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Martie!! Good addictions, though!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, that's true, Valley! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      This is why by a certain time of the day I have to get off it or it swallows me! Thanks, Pinto!

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