Well, not really, at least that it what I would like to believe. How do I know? I took the Net Addiction Center's Internet Addiction Test (IAT), and it turns out that I'm an average online user. *Wipes brow* Though I may "surf the web a bit too long at times", I am "able to control my usage".
I've been researching Internet Addiction since last summer when my husband handed me this Sunday Times feature: The Digital Obsession that is Driving us iCrazy. He thought it would be a good topic to cover at the big blogger/social media conference we put on each year at BritMums (where I'm a co-founder). I tried not to take it too personally.
In researching the topic I have spoken to some very interesting people (and yes found the perfect speaker for BritMums Live).
I also found the Net Addiction Center in the US (yes a center really exists). They define Internet Addiction as "any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment".
Hmmm, "causes stress". *Thinks back to snapping at hubby while trying to finish a work document online while kids are running in and out of my home "office".*
But then I read on: "By any name, it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict's life."
*Nope. Not me*
There's more: "Internet addicts make the Internet a priority more important than family, friends, and work. The Internet becomes the organizing principle of addicts' lives. They are willing to sacrifice what they cherish most in order to preserve and continue their unhealthy behavior."
*OK, I may snap sometime, but the Internet is not more important than family. At least in theory. :D*
But it is something I worry about. For heavens sake my job is based online. I can see how bloggers lean towards addiction. For one they spend an awful lot of time on the Internet (our research says 60 percent spend 2 - 5 hours daily). Why? Every email/tweet/facebook message could be a social or professional opportunity, offering a dose of dopamine as a reward. Dopamine can be hard to resist.
So what can you do about it? Like most addictions, treatment focuses on moderation and controlled use.
No wonder there is a rise of "unplug" movements in the US, including the National Day of Unplugging (unplug all devices from sunset to sunset on 1-2 March 2013.) There are also "Walden Zones", which are technology-free spaces in your home.
My conclusion? I spend a lot of time online. But no, I'm, not addicted to the Internet. At least not yet.
So go on, try it yourself and find out if you are addicted to the Internet!