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Internet Addiction

Young people unable to look away from their phones

What Is An Internet Addiction?

Internet addiction disorder (IAD), often called problematic internet use, compulsive internet use or pathological computer use is when an individual excessively uses computers and the internet. The individual is so taken in by the internet, that it interferes with the individual’s daily life.

This can be a difficult addiction to cope with, as the internet is used daily by people around the world. When it’s used to the point of excess, it can quickly become an addiction.

Counsellors Specializing in Internet Addictions

What Causes An Internet Addiction

A couple with an internet addiction ignoring each other while on their phonesInternet and computer addictions are disorders that are still being researched heavily, and several possible causes for internet addictions have surfaced. Two of the leading beliefs place internet addiction as a result of social causes and personality traits. Some people become addicted to the internet because of the social connections they form and foster online. Often friends online can be useful, and healthy, but problems arise when a person relies too heavily on online friends, and neglects the friends they have in the surrounding area.

Some internet addicts are desperately seeking attention and approval, and create false personas online. This can cause larger self esteem issues, as the internet becomes a place these people can hide from their real lives, causing problems in their workplace and in their social lives.

Another study has shown that people can be predisposed to an internet addiction, in a similar fashion as some people have a predisposition to an alcohol addiction. In any case, the correct mix of an addictive personality, sources of stress, and mental health can cause a person to become heavily addicted to computer and internet usage.

Signs & Symptoms of Internet Addiction Disorder

Someone’s habit of heavy internet use does not always correlate with internet addiction. This is true especially as the internet becomes more engrained in our lives through communications, work, media, education, and commerce. However, strong trends have started to appear in research. Those diagnosed with IAD have been found to show behaviour similar to those suffering from substance abuse such as:

  • – Thoughts dominated by previous use & anticipation for next session

  • – More time needed online to reach satisfaction

  • – Multiple unsuccessful attempts at cutting back use

  • – Withdrawal symptoms when separated from access

  • – Time spent online is longer than originally intended

  • – Relationships, education, finances, & careers at risk in favour of time online

  • – Lies or is dishonest to conceal extent of use

  • – Neglects basic health needs (poor hygiene, nutrition, & weight changes etc.)

  • – Use of internet is way to escape problems or relieve dysphoric moods (e.g. depression, guilt, hopelessness, anxiety)

These symptoms related to IAD are more often than not accompanied by other mental health issues such as depression or other addiction problems. Many internet addicts also tend to be isolationists, suffering from various forms of anxiety when our of the house or separated from internet access. Repetition of destructive behaviours related to internet use despite negative consequences can be a good indicator of IAD and/or other mental health issues.

Remember, it is not always the internet itself causing addiction issues. It’s the activities contained within it that can become addictive. Porn and online sex addiction is the leading cause of  of IAD, yet other forms of internet addiction are just as prevalent. IAD cases can relate to online gaming (especially multiplayer roleplaying games), gambling, shopping, social networks, media consumption (Netflix, YouTube etc.), and beyond.

Common Types of Internet Addictions

a family all on their phones - addicted to the internetAn internet addiction is a rather broad term that encompasses a wide range of online impulse control problems. Below are listed 5 subcategories of common types of internet addictions:

Compulsive Information Seeking – More than ever, the internet can provide us with limitless amounts of data and knowledge. For some, this easy access to information turns in to an uncontrollable urge to constantly look for and process information.

Monetary & Net Compulsions – An internet addiction that revolves around things like gambling, online shopping, and trading stocks. Spending or losing excessive amounts of money to a point where it negatively impacts one’s financial stability.

Cybersex & Pornography – An addition to pornography, webcam services, and adult websites. This type of internet addiction can have a detrimental affect on creating and maintaining real-world intimate relationships and sexual or romantic connections.

Gaming Additions – Spending an excessive amount of time playing games that impact productivity. With interactive and addicting games becoming more accessible than ever, a gaming addition is a serious issue that can impact one’s professional life and their relationship as well.

Online Relationships – An internet addiction in which people become addicted to maintaining online relationships – often neglecting real-life friends, romantic partners, and family members. This can lead to individuals forgetting how to interact with people in the real-world.

Girls suffering from an internet addiction at a theme park stuck to their phones Capital Choice Can Help

Capital Choice Counselling has the Ottawa counsellors available to help you or a loved one through an internet addiction. With our proven counselling methods we are able to help you through this difficult time, and to help you overcome the addiction that grips you or a loved one.  Using a variety of counselling techniques, we help people to divert their attention to the internet, and back to the events of their real life.  We help them reconnect with friends, and the real world. We want you or your loved one to be able to live without the addiction constantly looming over you.


The world is filled with challenges, and we help internet addicts meet them and overcome them.  Whether the issue is underlying social anxiety, displeasure with their current life, or rampant insecurities there is an answer.  Ottawa addictions therapy can help you get your life back.


Frequently Asked Questions

An internet addiction can be defined as exhibiting a compulsive online-related behaviour which interferes and negatively impacts your relationships, your work, or with other aspects of your everyday life. Those who suffer from an internet addiction often prioritize internet use over their family, friends, and work.
The number of people who suffer from an internet addiction disorder varies significantly based on age and accessibility. It is estimated that roughly 6% of the population could be suffering from an internet addiction. This number might be higher than estimated and considering that approximately 40% of people have access to internet, 6% is a rather significant prevalence.
The internet is addictive because of how it affects your dopamine levels. Every time someone uses the internet, they get small "rewards" - an interesting post on instagram, a message from a friend, a news story, or even a lead for a new job. Every time you get this dopamine hit, it increases dopamine production, which creates a cycle that subconsciously encourages users to keep checking their phones and computers to get another psychological "reward" (dopamine hit).
Counselling is a proven treatment option for those who are struggling with an internet addiction. Through a variety of different counselling techniques you can control and divert your attention away from the internet and project it towards meaningful relationships and events in your real life. Counselling for internet addictions can help you understand the underlying cause of your addiction and help you develop ways to change your mindset to notice when you're consuming too much time on the internet. Contact us to get help with your internet addiction. We are here to help you get control back of your life!
Internet addictions can happen to just about anyone. However, there are certain risk factors or groups of people that might be more prone to developing an internet addiction:
  • - Individuals with Other Addictions (Drugs, Smoking, Sex, etc.)
  • - People with Relationship Difficulties
  • - Individuals with Other Psychological Difficulties (Depression, Anxiety, etc.)
  • - Highly Intelligent People (Who Aren't Challenged Enough)
  • - People with No Set Routine or Agenda

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