How many times have you been on your phone, only to look up and realize that an hour has passed?

A person looking at their phone. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

One study found that over 12% of people were at high risk of suffering from internet addiction.

If you're worried that you might be using the internet too much, you're not alone.

Common Warning Signs To Look Out For

  1. Excessive internet use

  2. Preoccupation with the internet

  3. Tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when not using the internet

  4. Prioritizing the Internet over other parts of your life

  5. When the internet causes serious distress or negatively impacts your life

An graphic showing a person using their phone

1. Excessive Internet Use

Most Americans use the internet every day, and almost 30% say they are almost always on the internet.

You might be experiencing an internet addiction if you:

  • Find yourself using the internet for longer than you intend to

  • Want to use the internet less, but find it hard to stop yourself

Even though most people use the internet every day, internet use is only excessive when it causes significant distress.

A group of people in a cafe using their devices.


You should be worried that someone might have an internet addiction if their internet use:

2. Being Preoccupied With The Internet

Flaticon Icon

People experiencing an internet addiction might:

  • Think about the internet when not using it

  • Think a lot about what they are going to post and when to post it

  • Care a lot about what people on the internet think about them

  • Be overly preoccupied with likes, comments, and follows


Katie is an avid social media user. What might be a sign that Katie is struggling with internet addiction?

3. Tolerance And Withdrawal Symptoms

Tolerance means that you find yourself wanting or needing to be on the Internet for longer and longer periods of time.

Think about how long it takes you to scroll through your social media feed. Ten minutes? Fifteen minutes? Thirty minutes? An hour? If you find this number getting bigger, that may be a warning sign of an internet addiction.

A person looks at a computer screen in a dark room.

Withdrawal symptoms might happen when you aren't using the Internet. They might include:

  • Feeling distressed, anxious, or jittery when you haven't been online lately

  • Having fantasies or obsessive thoughts about the internet

  • Returning to the internet to make uncomfortable feelings go away


Which are a signs of an unhealthy relationship with the internet? Select all that apply:

4. Changes In Priorities

Is the internet one of the most important things in your life?

Being addicted to something makes us believe it is more important than our:

  • Physical health

  • Relationships

  • Jobs

  • Hobbies

  • Education

Two people are talking. One is looking at their phone, while the other looks displeased.

Signs that someone is prioritizing the internet in a harmful way include:

  • Sleep issues

  • A loved one has voiced concern about their internet use

  • They have trouble getting places on time

  • Lying to others about their internet use

  • Their grades or productivity at work have suffered because of their internet use

What To Do If You Recognize The Symptoms Of Internet Addiction

  • Tell your loved one that you are concerned, but don't be pushy. They may not want to talk about it yet.

  • Offer support. Let them know you are there if they ever want to talk.

  • Suggest activities that don't involve the Internet (like going for a walk, listening to music together, or playing board games).

Flaticon Icon In this text chat, the sender suggests to their friend Paul that they go for a walk outside first instead of defaulting to playing video games.

Paul texts a friend to play video games. The friend suggests going for a walk instead.

Take Action

A young man looking at his phone before bed. Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

Assess yourself

How would you rate your relationship with the Internet? Have you experienced any of the warning signs?

For the next day or two:


Your feedback matters to us.

This Byte helped me better understand the topic.

Get support to take action on this Byte