How Do I Know If I Am Addicted To Private Chat Rooms Online?
By Danni Peck
Updated February 04, 2019
Reviewer Nicole J. Johnson
If you are asking this question, then at least you are aware that you may have an issue with how much time and energy you are investing in online chats.
Has someone told you that you spend too much time in private chat rooms online? Do you find that you are missing out on important areas of your life because you are too busy chatting? One way to figure out if you are addicted is to stop chatting! Can you do it? Do you think you could stay away? Does the thought of it make you anxious?
If you are not ready to do that, here are some other ideas that can help you.
Keep track of how often you are online and how much time you spend there if you want to know if you are addicted to private chat rooms online.
The easiest way to do this is to start an online journal. This practice can also help you to identify triggers. But we'll talk more about those later.
Open an excel sheet and type in the date and time right before you get online to talk in the chat rooms. You can make an elaborate table with dates, times, days of the week, etc. Or you may want to you use your smartphone to log it right into your calendar or another planner app. This is easier than it seems when you consider that if something interrupts your journal you can go back into your computer's history to find information.
Be sure to write in the time you get off the chat room for any reason, like to eat meals, go to the restroom, etc.
Figure Out Why
Once you see that you may be spending too much time in private chat rooms, you should try to figure out why you are going there. Are you lonely? Bored? Does it make you feel better about yourself? Are you going online when you are drinking alcohol or using drugs? Many people who are addicted have "triggers" -- events that will occur and make them want to return to the behavior.
Triggers can arise for a number of reasons. For one thing, the mind loves a habit. It's a kind of shorthand that allows your subconscious to make decisions easily and quickly. A go-to example is waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth. If the first thing that you do after brushing your teeth is logged onto the chat room, that can become the third link in that chain. Identifying triggers can be difficult because of how the brain organizes information. That's one of the reasons that journaling can be so effective.
Another cause of addiction to activities is the same as that of the cause of addiction to drugs or even some foods - chemicals. Your mind often gets hooked on chemicals called "neurotransmitters" that are released when you do certain things. Some of these are part of the body's reward system that helps it to identify beneficial activities. When your body connects an activity to these neurotransmitters, your body might essentially forget that those feelings of reward can come from other sources. Even though these chemicals are natural, your body can get "hooked" on them, leaving you perpetually searching for too much of a good thing. That's one of the reasons that addiction is so harmful - because it gradually makes it harder for you to feel happy without using the addiction.
Maybe it's a Technology Addiction
Despite the increased acceptance of addiction to activities rather than substances over the last forty years, many people are skeptical of the idea of "technology addiction." Experts are unsure of what exactly to do with it or what to call it, though whatever it is called, most experts are willing to acknowledge it. "Technology addiction" isn't in documents like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that is used to diagnose psychological and emotional disorders but it is similar to some more recognized and accepted disorders like behavioral addictions.
Behavioral Addiction is the scientific name for the process outlined above, during which a person becomes addicted to the reward chemicals that their brain connects to a certain activity. Gambling is widely regarded as the first recognized addictive activity, and since then a number of other activities and relationships have been proposed, but acceptance is mixed.
What Can I Do if I Am Addicted to Private Chat Rooms Online?
After you know what your triggers are, you may be able to find other ways to satisfy your body's cravings for the feelings that it associates with those triggers. In a worst-case scenario, this will simply transfer your addiction to another activity. In a best-case scenario, you will remind your body that it doesn't need your addictive habit in order to feel good.
Not all addictions are the results of habits, sometimes they develop from coping mechanisms. This is the case for online chatrooms largely because of the "chat with strangers phenomenon" -- the name for the recent fascination with talking to people in digital space about our problems. If you are upset, call a friend or a family member and talk to them. This will give you another way to process your feelings but outside of the chat room.
It is very helpful if you can find a healthy alternative like exercise, yoga, meditation, or go for a walk. Yoga, walking, and other exercise are good because they lead to the release of endorphins, one of the "feel good chemicals" that make up your body's reward system.
It may take a couple of tries to break away from the computer but you will begin to feel more positive and productive with how you are spending your time. This would be a good time to consider picking a new hobby that you have been putting off or agreeing to meet with a friend you have been avoiding.
Talk to a Professional
Whether you have a technology addiction or believe that you are addicted to private chatrooms online, these conditions can be deceptively dangerous. They may make it difficult for you to appreciate other aspects of your lives like personal relationships or even your job. They may prevent you from doing other things that are good for you, like interacting with other people or doing physical activities like exercising.
When all else fails, talk to a professional. Even if you do not have a therapist or psychiatrist, there are plenty of websites that offer online therapy. BetterHelp.com has close to 2,000 licensed therapists that are trained in helping people address issues just like yours. Unlike help from other sources, therapists are interested in helping you, not diagnosing you. It doesn't matter if chatroom addiction or technology addiction exists or whether you actually have them; it only matters whether you need help to live your best life.