Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Relax - you cannot be addicted to all of the internet

Despite the fact that there are "internet addiction tests" all over - well - the internet, saying that someone is "addicted to the internet" makes the blogster cringe.

Of much greater interest are specialized quizzes on gaming, gambling, online sex and others.

We could tell you to go and take some quizzes and get help if needed, but, of course, that's not how we do things. The feeling of unease regarding any generic quiz is also caused by the evaluation point system.

If you check what appears to be a widely used quiz by an expert psychologist,  you will find that only the range 0 - 30 points says you have no addiction at all. 31 - 49 points already comes with the label "MILD", although the explanation states you are an average user.

Like with other addictions, addiction to internet offers and features comes with value judgments attached. Take this statement:
If your Internet use pattern interferes with your life in any way shape or form, (e.g. does it impact your work, family life, relationships, school, etc.) you may have a problem.

Replace "internet use pattern" with your favorite socially accepted hobby.

If "lying or hiding the extent or nature of your online behavior" is a problem, what does the NPR report that 13 million Americans are hiding a bank account from their spouses and partners tell us?

Sure, you may call the latter caution in the face of modern divorce laws, but is there a fundamental difference between hiding your online behavior and hiding a bank account?

The good news - or the bad if you belong to one of these groups - is this:
National surveys revealed that over 70% of Internet addicts also suffered from other addictions, mainly to drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex.

Life disrupting problems from addiction to internet features or sites can be treated through counseling and, as Dr. Young says on her website, with a Twelve Step technique similar to AA/NA.

Even if you are an "average user", it is actually fun to put aside the computer or smart phone and forego non-essential use for some time. Not religiously, a smart phone is a phone after all, and there is no reason to go back to paper maps merely to make a point.

In case you feel overwhelmed by the thought of not using the beloved digital helpers, there are plenty of activities that entail reduced use of the internet. For example, become a member of a Renaissance Fair guild or work a RenFair to limit use to breaks.

A job in an Amazon warehouse or behind the counter of a McDonald's, to name only two, will have the same effect. But they are not as much fun.

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