Types of Internet Addiction

The broad types of Internet addiction are related to Internet gambling, shopping, eBay, or to gaming in general can be explained using the ACE Model, developed in the late 90s to describe the variables that make online use addictive.

The ACE Model

The ACE Model, an acronym for ACCESSIBILITY, CONTROL, and EXCITEMENT that explain compulsive online use.

ACCESSIBILITY – Before the Internet, gambling meant trips to Las Vegas or nearby casinos or the local convenience store to buy lotto tickets or attendance at church bingos. Gaming was limited to college students who knew how to access these site. Shopping meant, waiting in long checkout lines, fighting the mall crowds, or spending hours searching for a specific item. After the Internet, we now have immediate access to hundreds of virtual gaming sites, gaming sites that make it simple enough for the non-techno-savvy adult use, and online auction houses to find any item imaginable. This accessibility makes it convenient to gamble, game, or shop at any hour day or night, without the hassles and limitations of real life, we now live in a culture where we can indulge in these activities to seek out immediate gratification and satisfy our impulsive whims.

CONTROL – Control literally refers to the personal control that one can now exercise over his or her own online activities. This is a particularly salient issue with respect to mobile use on tablets and phones. There is a strong sense of personalization with unique apps and privacy about using these devices. Control stems from the attitude “this is my device” so the person can constantly engage in an activity without others knowing, enabling secrecy associated with all online use. This is why such compulsive behavior on the Internet can be hidden. While you are in control of your device and related online activities, a red flag for problem gamblers, shoppers, or eBayers is when you are getting more and more desperate to recoup your losses. For instance, you may gamble until you’ve spent your last dollar, and then move on to money you don’t have- money to pay bills, credit cards, or things for your children. You may feel pushed to borrow, sell, or even steal things for gambling money. It’s a vicious cycle. You may sincerely believe that gambling more money is the only way to win lost money back. But it only puts you further and further in the hole. Or, problem eBayers don’t control bidding opportunities such that rare or unique items can easily be located and one can anonymously transform into an aggressive bidder to win over the competition.

EXCITEMENT – Excitement represents the emotional “rush” or “high” associated with winning. In gambling, one wins the bet, wins money, and it becomes a great reinforcement to keep playing. In gaming, there is an excitement associated with being good at the game, as players can earn respect and recognition from other players, and this multiple user environment creates a parallel life online that is more interesting than a player’s real life. Auction houses create a stimulating place where users can conquer others as the highest bidder can be intoxicating as one beats out others in the last precious seconds to win the desired prize. In each case, the excitement surrounding the activity becomes a powerful hook that continues to reward future behavior. How can you tell if you suffer from a Net Compulsion? Take one of the tests listed below:

TEST FOR ONLINE GAMBLERS – Do you spend too much money gambling online? Have you been unable to stop betting once you start? The invention of online gambling has not only become a political and legal concern, but a serious health issue. Compulsive gambling has already been established as a clinical disorder, but now the Internet makes the ability to extend one’s gambling habit to virtual casinos immediately available without the hassles of traveling to Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

TEST FOR EBAY ADDICTS – Have you woken up at strange hours just to be there for the last remaining minutes of an online auction? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment when you discover you are the highest bidder? Forget QVC or the Home Shopping Network – problem eBayers feed a shopping need that is reinforced from the exuberance of winning an item. Problem eBayers begin to buy items they don’t need just to experience the rush of winning – sometimes to the point that they go into financial debt, take out a second mortgage, or even go into bankruptcy just to afford their online purchases.

TEST FOR ONLINE GAMING – Are you completely absorbed in online fantasy games? Spending too much time in your character, the fantasy, the game, leaving others to wonder what you do online for so long, isolating yourself at the computer? Problem gamers, like problem gamblers, feel that they can’t get enough of the playing experience. Winning a bet or gaining the high school or earning recognition have allowed video games and role-playing games to become a global addiction.