Internet or Cyber Addiction: Definition, Symptoms and Treatment

The internet addiction or cyber addiction can be defined as Basil (2006) as “the loss of control versus the rational use of the Internet.” We can know if someone is a cybercrime when, in an excessive way, uses the internet and thinks of nothing more than that. This has multiple consequences for the person, among them that he ignores his life completely.

Nowadays we are connected to internet from anywhere on mobile phones, tablets or computers. Our life without them would be totally different but, what if we start using new technologies as an end rather than a means? Are we aware of the time we spend in front of some of these devices?

There are different types of e-addiction:

Cyber Addiction

It is an excessive and uncontrollable use of the internet that negatively affects the life of the person. In general, the activities that a person with internet addiction usually performs have to do with sex, shopping and gambling. It can be divided into:

  • Addiction to cybersex. This addiction is related to sexual conversations across the network.
  • Addiction to online pornography. It is the consumption of pornography available via the internet, whether it is photos, videos, etc.
  • Addiction to the online game. The person who is addicted to the online game has problems with games through the network. If you can bet or make money through these games, it is often called gambling.
  • Addiction to online auctions. This type of addiction is characterized by excessive participation in online auctions.
  • Addiction to chat. People addicted to chat spend a lot of time in chat groups. In most cases it may be because he is also addicted to cybersex.
  • Addiction to online communities. People with this type of addiction make excessive use of online social networks. They are people who actively participate in them by browsing people’s profiles or sharing information.
  • Addiction to blogging. This addiction is characterized by the person making excessive use of blogs. The affected person wants to promote himself and for this he actively participates.
  • Addiction to online shopping. People with this type of addiction shop excessively for the Network.

Addiction to the computer

Computer addiction is characterized by being broader than Internet addiction as it encompasses all activities in which the computer is used.

Addiction to mobile phone

People addicted to the mobile phone are characterized by the uncontrolled use of it.

Addiction to text messages

Addiction to the mobile phone can lead to abusive use of electronic messages.

Addiction to video games

This type of addiction can be to online games or not. If a person is addicted to online games we would be talking about a subtype of Internet addiction.

Causes of e-addiction

According to Boron at (2008), the internet facilitates covering or compensating for a deficit in the personality of the addict, it is an instrument of interpersonal communication.

The virtual world can be considered a way out of the real world for people who have problems, for example, in social skills, in some cases becomes a substitute for real life. For all this, it can be said that the network covers two types of basic needs.

  • Getting a person in solitude can feel good and accompanied through games, images and information without having to communicate with another person.
  • Search for social interaction.

There are people who tend to suffer from this type of addiction because they suffer from depression, or on the contrary they are attracted to the virtual world and the great variety of possibilities it offers, such as anonymity or opposing roles in everyday life.

In other people who are looking for a relationship, the network allows them to engage in sexual fantasies or simply to establish relationships.

Typically, cyber-addiction is more common in adolescence, where the Internet currently serves as one of its main means of socialization. According to a study carried out by the Pfizer Foundation (2009), 98% of young Spaniards aged 11 to 20 years are Internet users.

Of this percentage, seven out of ten claim to access the network for a daily time of 1.5 hours. Therefore, teens given that they are usually connected more to the internet constitute a risk group. (Sánchez-Carbonell, Barany, Castellan, Chamorro and Obverts, 2008).


A cyber cap is a person who spends an excessive amount of time surfing the net, whether playing, communicating or comparing over the internet. Because of the above, his life is totally affected, becoming a problem for him and the people in his environment. In every addiction there are always three elements:

  • A person.
  • Certain personal circumstances.
  • A substance or situation that produces pleasure.

That a person spends many hours connected to the internet does not mean that he has addiction, we have to know the personal circumstances and why he spends so many hours in front of the computer.

We cannot label a person if we rely only on the time spent connected. So, when can we consider that a person has internet addiction? What are the warning signs? According to Young (1998), the warning signs are:

  • Be connected to the network all day, depriving you of hours of rest.
  • Do not give normal and appropriate attention to important issues or other activities as they usually are: contact with family, social relationships, study or health care.
  • Receive complaints about the excessive use of the network by family or friends.
  • Do not stop thinking about the network even without being connected.
  • Try to stay for a certain time connected without getting it.
  • Often lie about the time that has been playing or connected to the network.
  • To lower the performance of studies, not wanting to interact with other people or to be irritable.
  • When you are in front of the computer you feel overly euphoric.

In addition to the above, there may also be physical signs that show a person is cyber addiction:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Migraines.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Abnormalities of food.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Difficulties to maintain personal hygiene.

Therefore, there are several habits that can give us some clue as to whether we have cyber addiction or if someone around us has it. In Spain there are 9 million internet users, of which more than 6% make a pathological use of the Network.

Practical advice for parents and educators

What can we do as fathers, mothers and educators? We must keep in mind that, in most situations, children have a computer at home.

It is advisable that this computer is not in the child’s room, but rather placed in a place where the family or some family members frequent it as the living room or kitchen. In addition, it is recommended that the child does not spend much time playing alone with the computer for a long time.

As fathers and mothers of children we must be up to date on everything related to new technologies and the internet. Knowing the games that exist and with which our children play is important to know if they are suitable for them or not.

Finally, you should take time to talk to children about the Internet and the risks to their use, in order to avoid misuse and put rules to be followed.

Do I have an internet addiction?

If you want to know if you have cyber addiction do the following test Kimberley and Young Internet addiction?

  1. How often do you find yourself having more time navigating than you intended to be?
  2. Do you neglect the workings of your home by spending more time in front of the computer browsing?
  3. Do you prefer to get excited with photos or videos over the Internet instead of intimate with your partner?
  4. How often do you establish friendly relationships with people you only know online?
  5. How often do people around you scold you that you spend too much time connected to the Internet?
  6. Is your academic activity hampered because you spend too much time surfing?
  7. How often do you check email before performing other priority tasks?
  8. Is your productivity at work hampered by the use of the Internet?
  9. Do you become cautious or reserved when someone asks you how much time you spend navigating?
  10. Do you get away from your real life problems by spending a little time connected to the Internet?
  11. Are you ever thinking about what you are going to do next time you connect to the Internet?
  12. Are you afraid that your life without Internet is boring and empty?
  13. Do you feel annoyed when someone interrupts you while you are surfing?
  14. How often do you lose hours of sleep by connecting them to the Internet?
  15. Do you often find yourself thinking about Internet-related things when you are not online?
  16. Have you ever had to say “just a few more minutes” before turning off the computer?
  17. Have you ever tried to spend less time connected to the Internet and have not been able to?
  18. Are you trying to hide how much time you actually spend by browsing?
  19. Do you prefer to spend more time online than with your friends in real life?
  20. Do you feel anxious, nervous, depressed or bored when you are not connected to the Internet?

Evaluate each response:

1 = Rarely

2 = Occasionally

3 = Frequently

4 = Very often

5 = Always

0 = No

If the score is more than 50 you may have e-addiction.


Internet addiction is a relatively new problem if we compare it to other problems such as depression or anxiety. There are many types of treatments that attempt to address the problem through the taxpayers underlying Internet addiction such as social anxiety.

There are also inpatient treatment programs in which, through art workshops, they face their addiction problem. Finally, another option for those who cannot afford any of the above is self-help books for internet and addiction to video games.

Also Read: What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism?

Of course, we have to look at several sections. If your author is a registered professional, psychiatrist or counselor. Secondly, if you have experience in the treatment of internet addiction and, lastly, if the book has been published for a long time then we have to keep in mind that all information is being updated and incorporating findings.

On the other hand, there are programs that control the time of connection and that allow to program alarms from time to time in the computer or in the mobile.

There are also other mechanisms that control the duration of sessions, while informing the user periodically of the time they are connected, even interrupting the connection if necessary. This can be useful if we are not interested in using any of the above.