Internet Addiction

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I cannot stop surfing the web

December 2006

I am totally and completely addicted to the internet. I quit a job to be a writer and have gotten little to nothing done in 2 years because I cannot stop surfing the web. When I have had jobs, I have had problems because I cannot stop myself from using the internet. I have no idea what to do about it b/c it isn't like an alchoholic in that you can stop drinking. Computers are everywhere and necessary. Any treatment suggestions would be great. anon

It sounds like classic Procrastination. You made a huge shift when quitting your job to become a writer. Becoming a writer certainly not only put the work onus on you in terms of production, tasks themselves, scheduling, etc, but also it is a much more exposing, fragile, scary, nebulous thing. Whether or not you are consciously aware of it, it is clear that you are scared to death of actually putting word to page. And so, the internet. It sounds like your addiction is as hardcore as your undealt with issues with the choice to be a writer. As a start, I highly recommend the book called ''The Now Habit'' by Neil Fiore. The book itself is great and hits on what you seem to be going through. But Fiore himself is an amazing therapist that has helped many people I know through similar issues of addiction/fear/procrastination. He is in the Berkeley area. Jenny

Husband is always on the computer

October 2006

We are having a problem with Internet addiction. I find myself frustrated with my husband because I see him get on the computer so frequently. He often wants to just ''check his email'' or browse the web. Once the kids are down, he goes to the computer. I recognize that I too feel the pull to check my mail or 'quickly look something up', it is so convenient after all. My husband says it's no different from reading the paper or watching TV, but I just hate the idea that we're becoming 'screen people' and I also don't like modeling that for the children. Have others dealt with this? Part of me wants to move the computer to the office (it's now in the kitchen which makes it very accessible), but then when the kids are on it (which is actually very rarely but I think will likely increase as they grow) I won't be able to see what they're doing as easily. Thanks for any tips on this. anon

I recently had to confront my husband about an internet addiction -- from the moment he woke up he'd go into his office and be on his computer ''checking on work'', missing breakfast and family time with us (and not being any help at all with breakfast, making and packing lunches, getting kids washed and dressed for school, etc.). Pretty much the same when he got home -- he'd hit the office ''to check on work'' then join us for dinner and dissapear again as soon as the kids were asleep. I felt like this was sending a signal to the kids -- ''You're not as important as my work.'' I'm sure this isn't your situation -- he turned out to be addicted to internet *porn* -- but the solution we came up with together might be of some help. I basically laid it out that we needed him around in the mornings and that *I* needed to see him in the evenings. He cut waaaaay back on the porn, and now brings a laptop into the living room so we can talk while I'm cleaning up the dinner dishes, or even watch a movie together and he can still check his email. He can even pass it over to me so I can have a little e-time, and we're talking, not in isolation. (This leads to us *both* laughing over the latest idiocy on YouTube -- hey it's not high culture but at least we're sharing time together!) Because I can dissapear into a happy haze of internet surfing myself, I bought a small digital kitchen timer -- it's been HUGE in helping keep me aware of the passage of time, otherwise hours somehow drift by. Internet Reformed Family
I can relate to your post and am happy to share my situation. I have felt over the last 1-2 years that I too had become addicted to the internet (and my husband to a lesser extent). The computer was always on and I would check mail, catch up on things, surf the web on and off all day long and often after the kids were in bed. It wasn't necessarily hours at at time but it was frequent ''short'' breaks and would sometimes grow into longer stretches of time.

Finally my mom said something when she was visiting that I was always ''checking email'' and it hit me - I WAS always checking email and often surfing for no reason in particular. I started to take steps immediately once I realized what I was doing. Now I check email or get online during certain times of the day and I try to set a limit as to how long I will be on. I turn off the computer when I am done so I'm not tempted to pop over to see if anything new has happened. I do not turn on the computer after dinner and limit what I do online over the weekend (i.e. computer stays off on Sundays for example).

Setting myself these ''strict rules'' has really worked, especially turning the computer off when I am finished. Now I spend much less time online and have become more efficient when I am online. I now know that I wasted a lot of time and I'm happy to be doing other things! Good luck! Former Addict

Husband's on-line game addiction

October 2005

My husband (in his late 30s) seems to be depressed when he is away from his on-line game. I don't know if his situation is severe enough to be called an addiction but he has transformed into a very different person. He doesn't seem comfortable in real life social gathering anymore. If I somehow get him to meet with friends and/or family, he seems out of place. In addition to his social skills slowly deteriorating, his personal appearance is also being neglected. I can hardly get him to shave or get a hair cut. Am I dealing with this alone? If this is an addiction, how do I help him face his problem? Is there help out there? anon

Seems to me that there was someone at Stanford a few years ago working with folks with ''addictions'' to the web. I don't know his/her name. You could call the office of Dr. Robert Matano (PhD) in Oakland and ask him if he knows. He was the Director of Substance Abuse Services at Stanford for over 10 years, Good luck, Dr Jean
I want to offer advice, but mostly I just want to offer empathy. I'm so sorry you are in this situation, but I think you are asking the right questions. Does addiction run in his family? That might be one way to start the concern in the conversation. Is he drinking alcohal or getting intoxicated while playing? Therapy and therapeutic reading is out there, but of course he must be willing to look at it. And getting to that point may be difficult. But, if you feel that it's affecting you and your relationship, I think that that is a good reason for him to get help.

And I also want to tell you that you are not alone. My husband plays computer games every day. It can sometimes be for an hour or up to 4 hours or more. On some weekend nights, he likes to stay up late drinking beer and playing. Occassionally it becomes drinking, smoking pot, & playing until very late. I wonder if he is addicted too. I think he has turned to it when he's been down, but also just enjoys it. Is it addiction? Where does one draw lines? He's happy and he will put it away if I ask him to do it. He drinks a couple of beers every night when he plays, but I don't know if something should be done about it or not. So, it was re-assuring to read your letter and I look forward to the responses from others as well. I have some thinking I need to do about this too. Good luck. Anon also