Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Spiritual Formation Institute
True Confessions of an Internet Addict
Dr Alex Tang
My name is James Pong*. I am an Internet addict. I am 40 years old and work in a
bank as an account clerk. I am married for 21 years. My wife, Martha is a
homemaker and I have two children, John aged 4 years and Mary aged 11 years. I
am a Christian. I have always being interested in computers and have been
tinkering with the Internet during my student days. At that time the Internet
was difficult to use and involved learning of computer languages and terms such
as FTP-file transfer protocol and gopher. Then came Mosaic and then World Wide
Web and Windows. All this has make the Internet very easy to use and with the
high-speed modem, enjoyable.
My interest in the Internet has faded when I started working and raising a
family. About four years ago, I bought a new computer with a high-speed modem.
An Internet account was given free with the purchase. So I began to use the
modem to send and receive emails from my friends. It was fun to communicate this
way. Since then, I have not written a letter. I began to check my email in-box
for incoming messages two to three times a day. Then I discovered mailing lists.
There are people and organisations on the Internet that will send regular news,
reviews and information on various topics to anyone who subscribes to their
mailing lists. This is free. So I began to subscribe to mailing lists on topics
that I am interested such as comics, books reviews, news, cars, computers and
science fiction news. Some mailing lists sent their issues daily, some weekly
and some monthly. So I begin to get between 4-20 emails a day and it is time
consuming to read through it all. It also takes time to reply to some of the
emails, making comments and suggestions.
Later I discovered newsgroups. These are discussion groups on specific topics.
There are thousands of newsgroups on the Internet dealing with any topic under
the sun. I find that when I enter into a news group, I can find a long thread of
discussion involving many people, over a period of weeks and sometimes even
years. Of course, I must join in the discussion and add my two cents’ worth. I
find it easier to write out my thoughts in an email than when I am talking to
another person. When another person read my comments, he or she will comment on
my comments so I begin to have a large collection of friends from all over the
world. I even have comments from someone in Antarctica. I was arguing in
newsgroups on BMW cars, Barney the purple dinosaur, dogs, golf, country music,
computer games and Star Wars.
I read somewhere that information is power. And there is so much information on
the Internet. I like to go to CNN to get the latest news and commentaries, check
up the football scores on ESPN websites and the weather in the capital cities of
all the South East Asian countries. And it is so easy to lose track of time when
I am on the Internet. I remembered once when I want to find some information on
digital cameras. After dinner, I switched on the computer and used a ‘search’
software and there were 50 websites on digital camera. So I accessed some of the
websites to read about digital cameras. Each of these websites has links to
other websites. From the digital camera websites, I went to another website on
digital photography. From there I was led to read about 35mm cameras, then to
optical lens, history of photography, color in photography, war pictures, Second
World War, Battle of Leningrad and before I know it, it is 6 am in the morning
and my wife was getting up to fix breakfast for the children. I was so tired
when I went to work that I made many mistakes in my work. My boss was very
My friend, Ahmad introduced me to multiplayer computer games on the Internet. We
would access a computer games site at an agreed time and look for an ‘room’
where we can play the game. Each of us has a code name. Mine is Orion. When
there is enough players, we would start. The players can be from anywhere in the
world. I once have a game with someone from Korea, Jordan, France and Brazil. My
favorite game was ‘The Age of Empires’. And I was pretty good at it too.
Initially I would play at night after dinner. Depending on the skills of the
prayers, a game can last from 4-12 hours. After one game, I just cannot wait for
the next. I began to play during lunchtime, skipping eating food and sometimes
during working hours when my boss is not around.
In between games, I like to access chat rooms. In the chat room, I could talk to
whoever is in the room by typing out my words. And whoever is present will type
his or her replies. It is like having a conversation but not knowing whom you
are talking to. I love to pretend so be somebody else. Once I was typing a
conversation and pretending I am a beautiful 22 years old secretary and the
other person actually asked me for a date! In the chat room, I was a heart
surgeon, a criminal lawyer, a millionaire and a sailor.
I feel so good on the Internet. By comparison, my daily life seems drab and
boring. I just cannot wait to get back online. The nights are not long enough. I
often call in sick so that I could have more time online. My wife started to nag
me and we often quarreled. Once, she even threw out my computer. Lucky it was an
Acer and quite hardy. I do not know my children at all. They are so terrified of
me that they will hide when I come home. I was always irritable because of lack
of sleep and too much coffee. My boss threatened to sack me. I just could not
understand them. Am I not entitled to some relaxation? After all I have worked
Last February, my wife left me when I forgot our wedding anniversary. She took
the children with her. I was so angry that I went on the Internet, playing games
after games, having chats in chat rooms and surfing information from websites to
websites. I was eating home delivered pizzas and diet coke. After 4 days I
passed out. When I woke up, I knew I am an Internet addict. I swore I would stop
surfing the net. It lasted for 2 days and I went for another binge for another 5
days. That’s how my wife found me. She became alarmed when she called my office
and found that I had not been to work for 8 days.
I have reached rock bottom. That’s when my wife called in Pastor Thomas, a
I knew Pastor Thomas for many years. In my younger days, I have been active in
the Youth Fellowship. But I have not been to church for the last few years and I
noticed that he was still as youthful as before. I expected a scolding and a
lecture from him. Instead he said that we are to break this addiction together
and he will walk with me together. He also said that we should allow God to be
in charge and use the Bible as the basis of our breakaway from this addiction. I
remembered we prayed then, asking the Lord to help us, to search our hearts and
to help me to repent and break this addiction. I remembered that for the first
time in months, I felt peace, as if a burden has been lifted. I felt as if I can
see a light at the end of the tunnel. Could I break this addiction? I remembered
asking myself. Before ending the first session, Pastor Thomas shared with me two
Scripture verses; that I am a temple-a dwelling place of God-. His Spirit and
His life dwell in me (1 Cor 6:19) and that I have been given a Spirit of power,
love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). He asked me to think about these two
verses, get some sleep and not to switch on the computer. He gave me his phone
number and asked me to call him if the temptation to go online is too great. We
ended the first session in prayer for healing.
We had our second session the next day. We talked about the need to know
ourselves. We often deceive ourselves. Pastor Thomas told me about David in the
bible. When he lived a lie, he suffered greatly. When he finally acknowledge the
truth about himself, he found freedom. We continued to talk with him asking
penetrating questions. At the end of the session, I begin to have this picture
of myself - man who is always striving for recognition and power, who have
problem relating to people and very lonely. Again we ended with Pastor Thomas
explaining two Scripture verses to me; that I am a son of God; and God is
spiritually my Father (Galatians 3:26), and that I am God’s workmanship- His
Handiwork- born anew in Christ to do His work (Ephesians 2:10). He told me that
I could access the email but to cancel all subscriptions to newsgroup and
mailing lists. I cannot play games on-line or surf the Net. We are to meet again
the next week. We ended the second session by praying for self revelation and
truth about self.
Before the third session, I had to call Pastor Thomas because I was so depressed
and the urgency to login onto the Internet was so strong. His calm voice over
the phone was so soothing and we prayed over the phone. I broke down in tears.
The third session is mainly about taking responsibility for our lives. I find
that I have been blaming everyone for my shortcomings. I felt a strong need to
ask forgiveness from my wife and children which I did. Pastor Thomas told me
that I am allowed access my email box but to limit my emails to essential
communications. I am not to forward any emails to anyone and I am to delete all
non-essential emails. Again, he gave me two Scripture verses to think about;
that I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule over my life (Romans
6:1-6) and that I have been justified-completely forgiven and made righteous
(Romans 5:1). Pastor Thomas gave me a book by Neil Anderson to read, Victory
over Darkness (Regal Books, 1990). We ended this session with a prayer for
I wish I could say my recovery from Internet addiction was easy. It is not.
There are times when I feel so anxious and depressed. There are times when the
urge to login onto the Internet is so strong. But it is reassuring that I know
there is someone I can call to talk. I was gradually reintroduced into my church
fellowship. But what is more encouraging is when Pastor Thomas introduced me to
a few other former Internet addicts like myself. We formed a cell group and meet
weekly for bible study, prayers, encouragement and accountability. Each meeting
we have to confess to each other that we are Internet addicts and to give an
account of the number of hours we spent on-line and for what purpose. We are to
trust in the Lord for strength to save us.
My friends, do not let the Internet take over your life. Do not be an Internet
addict. I am one and it is no fun. Do not let the Internet be your love. Let
Jesus be your love instead
Symptoms of Internet Addiction
1. Using the online services everyday without any skipping.
2. Losing track of time after making a connection
3. Goes out less and less.
4. Spending less and less time on meals at home or at work, and eats in front
of the monitor.
5. Denying spending too much time on the Internet.
6. Others complaining of you spending too much time in front of the monitor.
7. Checking on your mailbox too many times a day.
8. Login onto the Internet while already busy at work.
9. Sneaking online when spouse or family members not at home with a sense of
10. Withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, obsessive thinking on what is happening on
the Internet and involuntary typing movements of the fingers when not online.
11. Finding life outside the Internet dull.
Though written in 1997 before the tremendous advances of the Internet, the
temptation of an addiction of the Internet remains ever present. This is more so
with the user friendly social networking technologies and the loss of the
personal sense of privacy.
|posted 1997|updated 27 February 2010|