Screen Buzz: “Yikes, I think I’m an addict! What now?”

Welcome back to chipur and the final article of our three-day screen buzz series. What do you say we tie a pretty bow on our work by discussing at what point does our screen buzzing cross the line, entering troublesome turf?

I’d like to use two instruments to help us out here. In the first article of the series I presented 25 Potential Screen Buzzin’ Questions. And in yesterday’s article I introduced the DSM-IV-TRs substance abuse and dependence criteria, and how they’re a nice fit for what we’re doing here. Again, both will help us bunches.

As we examine screen abuse and dependence criteria, let’s remember we’re talking laptop, desktop computer, video games, cell phones (“smart,” or not), texting, Internet, GPS devices, and TVs – and anything else you can come up with.

In my opinion, here’s the criteria for screen abuse. Over a one-year period, the existence of one or more of the following as a result of your screen use…

  • Noticeable (by you or others) interruption in work, school, home, health, or social functioning
  • Interacting with a screen while driving or while participating in any activity during which using a screen could pose danger
  • Financial/legal problems (loss of income due to missing work, making purchases you can’t afford or are fraudulent, gambling losses)
  • Damage to, or loss of, personal relationships

Now to the criteria for screen dependence. Over a one-year period, the existence of three or more of the following as a result of your screen use…

  • It takes longer periods of time in front of a screen to achieve your desired effect
  • Symptoms of withdrawal when you’re unable to access a screen (irritability, depression, anxiety, tremor)
  • Using a screen way more during a sitting than you’d intended
  • Over-the-top time expenditure related to your screen buzzin’ (repairing/replacing/upgrading devices, managing withdrawal symptoms, dealing with the work, school, relationship, or social fallout)
  • Making efforts to cut-back on your screen time that never succeed
  • Continued screen buzzin’ in spite of the serious emotional, mental, physical, relational, financial, etc. fallout you’re experiencing

I believe the above is an excellent point of reference for anyone who may wonder if their screen buzzin’ has become disruptive and potentially dangerous to self and/or others. And it’s a great guide for partners, family members, and friends.

One other note before we get into how to find help. Please understand your screen buzzin’ certainly may be an independent abuse or dependence situation. But it may also be a symptom of another emotional or mental disorder – say – depression, OCD, or bipolar disorder. And it may also coexist (comorbidity) with another disorder. Huge point to consider as you’re seeking relief, okay?

Now then, what to do you do if you’ve come to the conclusion that you, indeed, are enduring screen abuse or dependence…

  • Own your situation without shame or guilt
  • Seek immediate help – It’s very easy, actually. In fact, I came up with a variety of helping resources in about five minutes time. Granted, I used the Internet; however, I believe your use of it for such purposes is more than allowable. Here’s just some of what I came up with. I entered “Internet addiction counselors Naperville, IL” into Google and got some excellent results. Stop by sites such as,,,

Well, that’ll do it for the series. But I’d like to pose just one question before we sign-off…

If a family member, friend, or coworker was behaving as you are as a result of the use of alcohol, cocaine, or Vicodin – what would you suggest they do?

I can’t think of anything that would be more helpful right now than sharing some personal experiences. Won’t you comment? Thanks…

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