Young Adults Have Internet and Gaming Addictions, Too
Both teenagers and young adults can become addicted to online activities or video and computer games. The addiction can be to something as unthreatening as spider solitaire, or to something truly menacing like cyber-pornography or cyber-gambling.
While we can all inherently understand how cyber-gambling could end up costing someone their family, their job, or their house, it may be harder to see that simply spending an excessive amount of time on a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace could have an equally devastating effect.
It all comes down to choosing to spend time in a virtual world rather than interacting with real people and dealing with real-life problems. Even solitaire can become an avoidance mechanism. It's so easy to get sucked into trying to win back your virtual money - "Just one more hand" - when faced with research papers and homework.
Here are some questions to help you evaluate whether you are using the computer, the Internet, or video games in an unhealthy manner. If you answer yes to more than a couple of these questions, it might be wise to seek professional assistance, or at the very least, to try to cut back on your usage.
- Do you choose to spend time online or playing games rather than being with others?
- Do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are online or playing games?
- Do you fantasize about being online or playing games?
- Do you block disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of going online or playing a game?
- Do you neglect household chores because you are online or playing games?
- Do you lose sleep because you just can't seem to leave the computer or put down the game controller?
- Do you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are not online or playing, and does that feeling go away once you are back at the keyboard or have a game controller in your hand?
- Do you find that you stay online or play longer than planned?
- Do you try to hide how long you've been online or playing games?
- Does your work suffer (e.g., postponing things, missing deadlines, etc.) because of the amount of time you spend online or playing games?
- Do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks what you do online or whether you were playing a game?
- Do you check your e-mail, Facebook, or MySpace page before doing other things that need to be done?
- Do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend online and fail?
- Do others in your life complain to you about the time you spend online?
- Do you find yourself saying, "Just a few more minutes" more than once when you are online or in the middle of a game?
- Do your relationships with other people online or those you game with feel more important to you than your family and friends?
- Do you prefer the excitement of your online or gaming relationships to intimacy with your partner?
Adapted from The Psychometric Properties of the Internet Addiction Test published in CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2004.
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