Mark Hillman, Ph.D., (Psy) LMHC
Internet addiction results in personal, family, academic, financial and occupational problems that are characteristic of other addictions. Impairment of real life relationships are disrupted as a result of excessive use of the internet. Internet addicts spend more time in solitary seclusion and spend less time with real people in their lives. Arguments may result due to the volume of time spent on-line. Internet addicts may attempt to conceal the amount of time spent on-line, which results in distrust and the disturbance of quality in once stable relationships.
Financial problems may occur due to the significant amount of time spent on-line and the service provider charges. Common financial issues are large bills for use of some services, the telephone connection charges and telephone bills for calls made to friends in chat rooms. Other financial charges may include a connection with compulsive spending/shopping.
Some internet users may develop an emotional attachment to on-line friends and activities they create on their computer screens. Internet users may enjoy aspects of the internet that allow them to meet, socialize and exchange ideas through the use of chat rooms or "virtual communities". These communities allow the person the means to escape from reality and seek out means to fulfill unmet emotional and psychological needs, which are more intimate and less threatening than real life relationships.
Some Internet addicts may also create on-line personas where they are able to alter their identities and pretend to be someone other than themselves.The highest risk for creation of a secret life are those who suffer from low self esteem, feelings of inadequacy, and fear of disapproval from others. Such negative self concepts lead to clinical problems of depression and anxiety.