What is Internet Addiction?

Learn about the five types of Internet addiction and take our Internet addiction test.

Internet Addiction is a broad term covering a wide-variety of behaviors and impulse-control problems. It is important to understand that there are five specific types of Internet addiction:

  1. Cybersexual Addiction: Individuals who suffer from Cybersex/Internet pornography addiction are typically engaged in viewing, downloading, and trading online pornography or involved in adult fantasy role-play chat rooms. (Find out more about cybersexual addiction)
  2. Cyber-relationship Addiction: Individuals who suffer from an addiction to chat rooms, IM, or social networking sites become over-involved in online relationships or may engage in virtual adultery. Online friends quickly become more important to the individual often at the expense of real life relationships with family and friends. In many instances, this will lead to marital discord and family instability.
  3. Net Compulsions: Addictions to online gaming, online gambling, and eBay are fast becoming new mental problems in the post-Internet Era. With the instant access to virtual casinos, interactive games, and eBay, addicts loose excessive amounts of money and even disrupt other job-related duties or significant relationships.
  4. Information Overload: The wealth of data available on the World Wide Web has created a new type of compulsive behavior regarding excessive web surfing and database searches. Individuals will spend greater amounts of time searching and collecting data from the web and organizing information. Obsessive compulsive tendencies and reduced work productivity are typically associated with this behavior.
  5. Computer Addiction: In the 80s, computer games such as Solitaire and Minesweeper were programmed into computers and researchers found that obsessive computer game playing became problematic in organizational settings as employees spent most days playing rather than working. These games are not interactive nor played online.

Based upon the DSM, Dr. Kimberly Young developed eight criteria to diagnose Internet addiction:

  1. Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous on-line activity or anticipate next on-line session)?
  2. Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
  3. Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
  4. Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
  5. Do you stay on-line longer than originally intended?
  6. Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
  7. Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
  8. Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?

If you can answer "yes" to five or more of the questions, then you may suffer from Internet addiction. If you fear that you may be addicted, we invite you to take our Internet Addiction Test. If you need immediate help, please contact our Virtual Clinic.

Our clinical research shows that demographics of Internet addicts indicate a mean age of 29 for males and 43 for females and vocational backgrounds are broken down as follows: blue collar, non-technical white collar, high-technical white collar and none (i.e., homemaker, disabled, retired, students). Demographics of Internet addicts
Duration of online use is broken down as follows: Duration of online use graph
Clinical research classifies the most addictive online applications: Most addictive online applications graph
To learn more about Internet addiction, please review Caught in the Net, the first recovery book on Internet addiction and review our articles online.

No one is sure how many people are affected by addictive use of the Internet. But if one takes estimates used in other addictions such alcoholism or compulsive gambling, you might estimate that about 5% to 10% of all on-line users may be potentially addicted. At this point, these numbers are very cautionary.


Caught in the Net, the first and only recovery book on Internet addiction to help rebuild your relationship
Caught in the Net

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 24). What is Internet Addiction?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 23 from

Last Updated: November 21, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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