Cyber Housewives Addicted to the Internet:

How it Negatively Affect Spousal
Relationships in Web-Friendly American Households Today

December 18, 1998



The estimated number of U.S. online users is 79 million (Neilson Media Research, Online) out of the current U.S. population of 270,042,817 (Census, Online). Originally, the media’s stereotypical Internet users were predominately young, introverted, computer-oriented males (Center for On-Line Addiction, Online). For the first time, in a June 1988 report, women now make up over half of AOL’s subscribers (TechWeb, Online). Furthermore, AOL is still growing -- at the rate of a million a month! Overall, men still use the internet more than women, -- 52% vs. 47.5%; however, the growth rate of women on the Internet has been steadily rising while men use of the Internet has been declining since 1995 (Headcount, Online). According to GVU, nearly 38% of women on the Internet are married (GVU’s WWW User Surveys, Online). Now also consider that there are currently 27,000 web sites on the Internet, and this number is doubling every 53 days. Clearly, the Internet is consuming a vast quantity of women and housewives’ time in society today. As with anything else which we consume in such magnitude, there are realistic impacts and effects, positively or negatively. In this paper, I would like to explore the negative affects the Internet have on us; specifically: Cyber Housewives Addicted to the Internet: Why & How it Negatively Affect Spousal Relationships in Web-Friendly American Households today. 1

Before I can explore the negative causal factors, we must first understand what defines a good spousal relationship. For this, I will refer to the Marriage Builder website. According to Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D., the author of the internationally best selling book, His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage, and web author of the Marriage Builder, the basis of a good marital relationship is the importance of emotional needs. Dr. Harley breaks down the emotional needs into these 10 factors: Affection, Sexual Fulfillment, Conversation, Recreational Companionship, Honesty and Openness, An Attractive Spouse, Financial Support, Domestic Support, Family Commitment, and Admiration. Meeting these important emotional needs is only half of the story, however. While possessing these factors are how couples can maintain a good, loving relationship, the couples must also be sure that they avoid withdrawing these factors from their relationship. Each couple should first determine five of the ten emotional needs and prioritize them in order of importance to them and then work toward meeting them. I will briefly review the definition of each factor.

Affection is, quite simply, the expression of love." The expression of love symbolizes security, protection, comfort, and approval which are the vital ingredients in any relationship. Displays of affections by one spouse to another, show that you care and that your spouse is of utmost importance to you. Affection is, for many, the essential cement of a relationship; it bounds couples emotionally. Without affection, many feel totally alienated.

Sexual Fulfillment is the fulfillment of sexual needs. It is Dr. Harley’s experience that almost all questions pertaining to sexual fulfillment are from women who don’t enjoy sex as much as their husbands do. Other questions are from husbands inquiring how they can make sex more attractive to their wives – and vice versa. Sex is a vital and complex factor in marriages. Dr. Harley emphasizes the importance of conversation and affection in providing an essential environment for sex.

Conversation, unlike sex, is not an exclusive need, unless it is one of your most important emotional needs that made you fall in love with your spouse. Men and woman usually do not have difficulty talking to one another during the courtship stage since that is a time of information-gathering for both parties. Both are highly motivated to discover each other’s likes and dislikes, personal background, interests, and goals. However, after marriage, many women find that the men they married no longer wanted to spend hours conversing with them. If the women’s need for conversation was fulfilled during the courtship stage, generally, they will expect it be met after marriage.

Recreational Companionship combines recreational activities and companionship. During the courtship stage, the couple, most likely, favored each other’s recreational companionship. Couples simply want to spend as much time with each other as possible. Though Dr. Harley does recognize that marriage changes a relationship considerably, he wonders whether marriage has to end the activities that originally helped make the relationship so compatible?

Honesty and Openness give us a sense of security. By sharing our spouses’ thoughts, feelings, habits, likes, dislikes, personal history, daily activities, and plans for the future, we feel confident of our relationship. When our spouses reveal their most private thoughts, some of us feel happy and fulfilled. On the other hand, when our spouses hide their feelings and thoughts from us, we become frustrated.

An Attractive Spouse refers to the physical appearance. Some individuals consider finding your partner physically attractive to be a temporary stage, which is only important in the beginning of a relationship; as the couples get to know each other better, physical attractiveness should then take a back seat to deeper and more intimate needs. However, that have not been Dr. Harley’s experience; particularly for men. Based on the couples that he has met, for many, the need for attractive spouses continue throughout the marriage. Usually, weight is a major factor. Choice of clothing, hair style, makeup, and personal hygiene are other factors that make a person attractive. Of course, attractiveness is in the eyes of the beholder, so you are the judge of attractiveness.

Financial Support is often one of the reasons for marriage. People often marry for financial security. But, like many of the emotional needs, financial support is sometimes hard to talk about. As a result, many couples have hidden expectations, assumptions, and resentments.

Domestic Support is referred to as a "time bomb" by Dr. Harley. The creation of a peaceful and well-managed home environment, which includes cooking meals, washing dishes, washing and ironing clothes, house cleaning and child care, may at first it seems irrelevant; but for many couples, the need eventually explodes.

Family Commitment is the need created by the arrival of children. It is not merely the need to feed, cloth or watch over the child to keep them safe; instead it is the responsibility for the development of the children, teaching them the values of cooperation and care for each other. It is the spending of quality time with your children.

Admiration is the love of being told that they are appreciated. Appreciation is one of the easiest needs to meet.

Dr. Harley’s 10 emotional factors, as introduced, above are very important to this study. As this paper will prove, the Internet is a very powerful lure. It is vital that marriages encountering Internet addiction problems possess approximately five of the emotional needs, which are of most importance to the couples, because the couples’ love and strength are the keys to overpowering the Internet. Like any other marital problems, it will be difficult to mend the marriages if the vital ingredients are not available in the first place.

Now that we have been introduced to the emotional needs required in successful marriages, we can now explore the motivational factors of Internet overuse. The three major motivational factors of Internet overuse are community, fantasy, and power (Internet Connectivity Study, Online).



The development of on-line communities is one of the major attractions and entertainment social resource on the web today. There are now numerous platforms for community interactions. There are: chat rooms which are virtual space where people can gather to converse and socialize, instant messenger services which work like real pagers on the internet and individuals can instantaneously correspond with virtual friends when paged (softwares called ICQ or mIRC), emails, and listservs which are mass email discussion groups that one can subscribe to depending on ones interests or hobbies.

Since housewives are mainly either home alone or are home taking care of their children, they usually do not have extensive interaction with adult friends, families, co-workers, etc. Therefore, senses of community and adult companionships are often sort after. With modern friendly, graphical Internet softwares, even women who have no technical training can easily navigate their personal computers’ on-line systems. Once there, everything is at their fingertips.

One of the women I interviewed, Cyber Housewife Shelly, wrote, "… being stuck at home (which I have chosen for the time being) 24 hours a day becomes very lonely, and I need adult conversation. That is why I love talking with others on the Internet." She also wrote, "… the ladies I have met, on MY (mailing) group at least, are just as equal to real friends."

Women often comment how they sought out support, acceptance, and comfort through online-relationships formed in chat rooms. Virtual communities provide women with a sense of belonging and the ability to share the company of others in a non-threatening environment, unlike real life (Center for On-Line Addiction, Online). Note, however, that obsessively seeking companionship online is an indicator that the couple is lacking in one or more of the emotional needs.

Cyber Housewife Shelly shared that "Yes, it (online support) has helped me. I met a very special friend on the Internet, and she has helped me through a lot." Another woman I interviewed, Cyber Housewife Sheri, said, "I feel I can trust my online friends more." In regards to support, Cyber Housewife Sheri added that she belongs to several groups and stated that "… (I) have helped quite a few people through things…"

According to cyberpsychologist John Suler, Ph.D. of Rider University, who did a study on Internet chatrooms (Addiction to Cyberspace, Online), chatrooms are very addictive because the social climate offers everything from casual chit-chit and goofing around to very intimate, meaningful conversation which may or may not lead to cybersex. A large range of social needs can be fulfilled in chatrooms. People frequently feel that they have made good friends, and in some cases, lovers. A major problem with chatrooms is that people feel obligated to keep returning. The more time the individuals spend in the chatrooms the more people they will meet, and people will learn to recognize their names. Not showing up for several days will likely make individuals feel off-balance or out of the circle, therefore, they will feel the need to reestablish those ties. If the individuals do not reestablish those ties, they will likely fade out of the community. For many people, it is the social ties that compel their return to the chatrooms. Time spent in chatrooms generally passes by very quickly, for individuals on virtual time, because it is very addictive. However, in real time, the individuals are neglecting their spouses; and instead of offering Conversation and Affection to their spouses, which are two of the emotional needs introduced, the individuals are offering their companionship to virtual friends.

Another woman I interviewed, Graphics Workaholic Housewife Susie, is addicted to the Internet from over-working on her graphic website. In our interview, she wrote, "I was online all day… poor Patrick (3 year old son)… I feel so guilty about that… well time goes by so fast when you’re online… it’s strange!"

Other forms of community on a slower pace are emails and listservs. Emails are electronic messages delivered via the Internet to the intended parties. Listservs are mass email discussion lists or groups which people can subscribe to in order of their interests. The topics available for listservs are limitless. Listservs are also simply create their own listservs and attract individuals with similar interests to join their discussion groups. Listservs keeps individuals up-to-date with the subjects of their interest and in touch with similar interests people. Just having to check all the emails daily are very time consuming. For instance, this example came from a writer who responded to an internet survey:

"I spend a lot of time on mailing list e-mail, and while I don't have a chat software program, I visit some interactive sites where it is possible to 'chat' with someone else who is also visiting. I have a bookmark list that I go through every day, checking in with certain sites and groups of people, and I encourage my husband to go out in the evening so I can have the computer to myself for a few hours. I think my use would be a great deal higher if I didn't have three kids at home (5, 2, and 1). I think that my use is a dependency in that I get pretty antsy at the thought of missing mail, or messages on the interactive pages when I have company over. The first thing I do in the morning is check my mail and a few sites, before I go to work, and I know from smoking that this is a baaaad sign. Hope some of this helps, sorry I can't help with a conference… (Center for On-Line Addiction, Online)."

The housewives’ Internet addiction to stay-in-touch with their cyber friends and groups are amazingly strong. The friendships and bonds they make on the Internet are valuable companies to these housewives. To them, the Internet messages from their cyber friends are like telephone calls to the norm. It is what keeps the housewives from boredom during the days at home alone or with their children without adult companionships. The housewives are comfortable confiding their problems to these cyber adult friends who are in similar situations.

Also falling under the community factor is cyber-flirting and cyber-sex. According to the Center for On-Line Addiction, women generally participate in cyber-flirting and less cyber-sex. This is because women seek support, companionship, and romance. Like a soap opera, a romantic stranger can lead to passion and progress into sexual dialogue, but many times they preferred to form some type of relationship prior to sexual chat (Center for On-Line Addiction, Online).

Cyber Housewife Shelly and Sheri further support this. Concerning cybersex, Cyber Housewife Shelly said, "I did it a couple of times. The first time was fun… Never could figure out how to type with one hand! However it was exciting, but once you did it once, it went downhill from there and became very boring. Although it seemed the men couldn’t get enough!" Cyber Housewife Sheri said, "Yes, I tried it a couple of times. I did it out of curiosity … (and) just to have sex with a stranger… (But I stopped because) it was demeaning to do cybersex." In addition, of the six housewives I interviewed, only three of them have experimented with cybersex, and of the three only one is continually taking part in cybersex. The one housewife who is still involved in cybersex acts is Cyber Housewife Kira. She is a part-time housewife with a full time profession as a law professor. Cyber Housewife Kira is also a bi-sexual, sexual-submissive, and a masochist. Her Internet addiction is due to research related reasons and sexual reasons. Even in her unique case, Cyber Housewife Kira’s reasons for cybersex are ‘I use it to screen for intelligence and mutual sexual interests – not "for the moment pleasure". It is a mean to go from VT (virtual time) to RT (real time).’

Furthermore, cyberpsychologist John Suler experimented and spent much time in chatrooms at a site called the Palace and learned that cybersex is a hot topic in the media precisely because it is sex. However, in reality, for chatrooms that are not set up for the purpose of pornographic talks, most of the sexual activities taking place are just good old fashion "flirting." Of course, much of this flirting does turn into cyber sexual relationships, but they are not for the sole purpose of sex. With cyber flirting, individuals can "play" with someone’s personal space, verbally snuggle up to someone or dance and wiggle around other individuals. People use words to describe their actions, like "I’m sitting on your lap and snuggling close to you." Women usually cyber-flirt because it gives them opportunities to act in a manner which they would not act in real life.

Cyber Housewife Shelly shared with me during our interview that "I began to become very addicted to wanting to talk to others. Men mostly. I liked the flirting and the way it made me feel. The attention I was receiving was overwhelming and desired." Cyber Housewife Sheri added, "I used to do it as "power play" almost. The guys were eating out of my hands almost…"

Perhaps after marriage, these women no longer have a playful, flirting relationship with their husband. In general, cyber-flirting is not an act of infidelity but more as an act to attract attention or to "play." On the other hand, if activities progress to cybersex, and the individuals are captivated to return for more, then it can become a problem, which obviously indicate that the individuals are not meeting the emotional need factors of Sexual Fulfillment, Honesty & Openness, and An Attractive Spouse.

According to the surveys and studies performed by cyberpsychologists and the interviews that I conducted, cybersex is too impersonal for many housewives, thus they lose interest in cybersex quickly. However, the housewives are still addicted to the Internet for chat, friendship, and support reasons, which indicates that cybersex are on the bottom of the housewives’ Internet addictions list. In the case of Cyber Housewife Kira, although cybersex is one of her primary internet addiction reason, she is doing so in order to seek out "intelligence and mutual sexual interests" and not just for sex. She is seeking serious "real time" relationships and is using the Internet as her venue.


The second attribute to Internet attraction is fantasy. People can create new personas or play out sexual fantasies. However, this area of fantasy are more closely associated with men rather than women -- as discussed above, under the Community factor, women are more likely to seek companionship and cyberflirt then cybersex. Nevertheless, fantasy does relate to online women users who tends to disguise themselves on the net to fit into the slim, blonde, and proportionate model that the media has well convinced men to want. Via this mode, women have a chance to meet men even though they are over-weight, having a bad hair day, or just feeling awkward about their appearance. Conversely, women who are attractive will be able to hide their beauty in order to weed out men who only care for her physical attributes, instead of character and intelligence. For the women who frequently are in this fantasy phase, they clearly fall under the emotional need factor of sexual fulfillment.


Internet access can empower individuals. I interpreted power as feeling useful and having a certain knowledge or skill on the Internet.

For example, many women, even housewives without formal training, now have excellent Internet, web design, and or graphical skills. There are many housewives on the Internet whose hobby is to create web graphics for others to use on their own personal websites. This task takes a lot of patience and dedication. Their work is just as good as students majoring in graphic design. By maintaining their graphics website, the women feel in control, empowered, and that they are contributing to the web community. It is a great confidence builder for them. It also gives the women opportunities to interact with other individuals via emails, since many visitors will email them requesting for special individualized creations or how-to questions. These designers usually do not have time to chat online.

Take for example, Graphics Workaholic Housewife Susie, who is the graphic designer of her own graphics site on the Internet. She is a mother and a wife. Her graphics creations are for free for personal use on the Internet. She often sends mass emails to notify her visitors of new updates every two days or so. Creating graphics takes a lot of time, expertise, and patience; with an update schedule like hers, Susie was dedicating a lot of time on her projects. As such, recently, she announced the following at her website:


"Well, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce that XXXXX and all it's "sub-sites" …, will be closing down as of the coming weekend. I feel that I have allowed my "life" on the computer to completely take over my real life with my family, and I must put a stop to it now. Please feel free to download any graphics, fonts/dings, or midis that you would like to have. Come Monday next week, everything will be gone.
I've enjoyed my time on the Internet immensely... I've met some wonderful folks out there, and visited some truly magnificent sites. I wish to thank everyone who was kind enough to visit my site, and a special thank you to those that signed my guestbook and/or sent me kind email. You've made my time on the web even more special."

However, due to popular demand and sincere emails sent requesting her reconsideration, Susie and her family agreed that her site will stay on the web, but she will be off-line for a while to spend time with her family. This example falls under many of the emotional needs factors, but one particularly stands out, which is domestic support. Here is her emotional message to her loyal visitors:



"I am absolutely amazed at the outpouring of support, well-wishes, concern and offers, that I have received since making my announcement earlier this week. I've had many people offer to host various sections of my site for me...all I can say is Thank You! I am touched beyond words that so many of you "pleaded" with me to stay on the web. I had no idea that my website meant so much to so many of you! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes again because I've just received another email asking me to please not shut down...godz....the just never ceases to amaze me.

Here is what I'm doing...I am going on "hiatus" for awhile...I really do need to get away from this darn computer and spend some time with my family. But, in discussing this further with my family, all agree that I enjoy my website far too much to just give it up...making graphics relaxes me...the fonts/dings are too much fun, and I get so many wonderful letters from people who enjoy that area of my site. The problem with it all tho, was that I felt obligated to continually update those areas of my site, and thus, I was on my computer all the time. But, I've decided (with my family's support), that I will allot a certain amount of time to my computer...updates will not be so frequent anymore... but if you

signed up for my Url-Minder, you'll know when I do make updates. So, I'll be leaving my site "as-is" for the time being...I will not remove the graphics, font/dings, or midis, but I won't make any updates to my site for a while...I hope you all understand.

Thank you, everyone, for making me feel like I matter...and for letting me know that my "contribution" to the World Wide Web means something to you...I cannot express what this means to me. And be proud, people....all of you together have convinced this old gal to stick around a while longer! :-) I have saved my guestbook, and every letter I received since my earlier announcement...I will be writing to each of you, expressing my appreciation.

Sorry this got so long-winded! lol Sooo... guess I'll see y'all soon... hang in there! Oh...BTW.... before I go off line for a's a little something, and here's a little something...just so ya know "I'll Be Back"!!! ;-) TTFN!"

Graphic Workaholic Susie advised during our interview that her graphics skills were self-taught. She is very modest about her skills even though she receives tons of kudos messages daily. Her site made her felt like she’s good at something. However, there is the pressure of maintaining the number of visitors she receives. Concerning her Internet addiction, Graphic Workaholic Susie, wrote, "… I was afraid that if I didn’t keep it updated and fresh, no one would visit it…"

Another housewife graphics artists I interviewed, Graphic Workaholic Vicki, said, "… I'm dedicated to my website because it's the only thing I've ever found in my life that I feel like I excel at besides motherhood." Last year, her graphic website received over 500,000 hits! This year, her site is receiving 2,000 to 3,000 hits a day!

In the worst cases, these women can get addicted to the internet, just as they can get addicted to alcohol and drugs, which affects their love ones – their family and friends; in this paper, I will focus on the spouses. The victims of the Internet addicts’ neglect are called cyberwidow/ers on the Internet. The cyberwidow/er left behind must confront rejection, abandonment, anger, and confusion about what happened and why (Center for On-Line Addiction, Online).

According to Dr. Kimberly S. Young, "the world's first Cyberpsychologist," founder and director of the Center for On-Line Addiction, the world's first consultation firm and virtual clinic for cyber-related issues, observed that housewives were most at risk of becoming dependent on the internet. Dr. Young’s findings were based on data network interviews of 396 Internet users who fulfilled at least four of the eight criteria in an addiction survey. According to Dr. Young, to resolve individuals’ Internet addiction, one does not go "cold turkey." As with drug or alcohol, the individuals have to realize their problems, and that is the most difficult part – denial. The Internet addicts will need to recognize the neglect and pain they are causing their spouses. Some of the situations can even lead to divorces. An interview conducted with Dr. Young proved very informative:

Question 1.

I learned from the "few" women that I interviewed that they are addicted because of support, friendship, and web design workaholics (which gave them a sense of empowerment and the discovery that it's something that they excel in, instead of just being a homemaker) purposes. Cyber-sex seems to be on the bottom of the list. Can you share from your study, what the primary reasons are for women's Internet addiction? Is cyber-sex on the bottom of the list also?

Answer 1.

Yes, I found the same issues as more appealing for women than cybersex, however, men typically had cybersex higher on their list.

Question 2.

From your studies and experience, would you be able to categorize the general online purposes for women by percentages? (i.e., 50% for chats, 30% for cyber-sex, 20% for web design workaholics, etc.)

Answer 2.

I did not divide the Internet applications by gender.

Question 3.

From my brief study, all the women I interviewed are homemakers. How many percent of the women from your study are also homemakers?

Answer 3.

I had 42% that were categorized as non-employed but in that number was also the disabled, students, and unemployed.

Question 4.

Based on recent statistics found on the web, I understand the number of women on the Internet is outnumbering men. Would you say it's also true that more women are "addicted" to the Internet than men are? If yes, do you know why that is so?

Answer 4.

Over 61% of respondents in my original study were women and I continually work with couples/lawyers where the primary "addict" is the woman in the relationship.

Question 5.

Do you believe that Internet addicts can return to a more balance lifestyle? Or do you believe that most of them end up where they started because the temptation of 24-hour access to the Internet is too great? Or that the "real" reasons for their addiction cannot be cured simply by time-management on the net (perhaps they need marital counseling to begin with...)?

Answer 5.

Yes, moderation has worked, but at times the person must abstain from the problematic area of the net (say to chat rooms). The best approach to treatment is both behavior modification (time management, etc) and examining the underlying reasons for the addictive behavior – and directly treating those issues.

Question 6.

Have you met women who are addicted to the Internet in person?

Answer 6.


Question 7.

The women I emailed and chatted with for interviews seem very open. They are very comfortable speaking to a stranger - a trait one learns from the Internet. Do you know if most of these addicted women are also as out-going in person? Or do you think they are out-going online because their identity is unknown? Are there certain women/characteristics who are more easily addicted than others, or do you believe it's "fair game" once you've been introduced to the Internet?

Answer 7.

Based upon personality measures such as the Sixteen Personality Factor Inventory I have found that both introverts and extraverts are equally as likely to be addicted. However, individuals who were more imaginative, open-minded, and ranked high in terms of solitary and non-group preferences, dominance, and non-conforming lifestyles were more likely to be addicted to the Internet.

Question 8.

Do these women realize exactly they are attracted to the Internet? The few I interviewed seem to know exactly why they are addicted.

Answer 8. Yes.

Question 9.

At your website, there is a story about a woman who lost her marriage because of her Internet addiction. Do many of the cases, that you've encountered, get as serious? How badly does it get? I'm guessing that not cooking dinner, not doing laundry, and not communicating with your spouse can eventually get very annoying and hurtful.

Answer 9.

That is a published case study that represents the typical scenario.

Question 10.

For those women who are addicted to the internet and their spouses are having difficulties with it - do you think the addiction is negatively affecting their marriage or that their marriage was having difficulties and that the internet is just a "source" for the women to hide in?

Answer 10.

I have seen both sides of this argument. Some would have found other ways to cope with a bad marriage, while others had content and reportedly happy marriages and were seduced by the nature of online relationships and cyber affairs that made their life seem more exciting than it was.

Question 11.

In Question 4, you mentioned that you work with couples/lawyers. Why are lawyers involved?

Answer 11.

Mainly for divorce and child custody cases initiated by online addiction and cyber affairs.

Question 12.

Do you feel that Internet addiction will continue to grow? How rapidly is the problem growing?

Answer 12.

Yes, obviously as more people go online so will the number of problems. The problem is growing as rapidly as the net grows.

Question 13.

Do you feel that Internet addiction can be a widespread problem in the near future? Should the public be warned and be taught about it like alcohol and drugs, etc.?

Answer 13.

Yes, the seminars I conduct are designed as educational measures to help in the prevention of problems. Typically, the universities, clinics, or corporations I consult with say that the implementation of such seminars has been helpful in reducing the incidence of compulsive use of the Internet.

Question 14.

Since the school system and libraries are introducing children in America to the Internet, do you foresee a problem with children being addicted to the Internet? Have parents bought in children with this problem to your attention?

Answer 14.

Some parents have been concerned, but mostly I have spoken directly with school teachers and librarians deeply concerned over the unregulated use of the Internet in terms of poor social development and impairment to traditional classroom learning. Plus, I focus most of my work here on the danger of online pedophiles/cyberporn and their effects on children.

Question 15.

To avoid asking you for the number of divorce and child custody cases you have encountered, which were initiated by online addiction, can you tell me instead of the approximate percentage of such cases you do encounter (if all your cases represent 100%)?

Answer 15.

I would say in 10% of the cases, I am contacted directly by a lawyer, and in about 70% of the time, I am speaking with someone whose marriage ended (or at least separated) due to their involvement with the Internet/cyber affairs.

Unlike physical addictions like alcoholism, Internet addiction does not require abstinence for a healthy and life-enhancing recovery (Center for On-Line Addiction, Online).

There are support groups, in the form of listservs, on the Internet that are dedicated to helping Internet addicts. Internet addicts and online advisors collaborate together to help each other through their hardships.

Books are also available on the subject. To help in that recovery process, Dr. Young’s book entitled Caught in the Net provides practical tools and dozens of intervention technique for a healthy return to normal life. However, if problems have already seriously eroded the individuals marital relationship, then they should seek marriage counseling.

Dependency rehabilitation centers also exist, although after a thorough Internet search, only a few were found. Dependency rehabilitation centers like Cottonwood de Tucson, The Orana Group, and Pavillon International Treatment & Renewal Center. These centers are frequently referred to as Freestanding Chemical Dependency Rehab. These centers’ treatment philosophies are spiritually based and seek harmony within the addicted individuals -- they seek to address the underlying disease process.

Another option would be to seek counseling from psychiatrists, like Dr. Young, who would meet with the troubled couples and try to discover the motivation behind the individuals’ reasons for Internet addiction. Once the problems are discovered, and the internet addicts recognizes that they are addicted, steps should then be taken to meet the missing needs of the couples.

On * * *  this page * * * is a chart displaying the results of the interviews that I conducted on the Internet. I launched an Internet investigation for reliable and appropriate sources of women as applicants for my cyber interview. My goal was to locate and solicit the cooperation of women who were in this predicament: Women (Moms / Housewives) Addicted to the Internet: Why & How is it Negatively Affecting their Spousal Relationships. The demographic requirements for the applicants were female, married, divorce, or in a live-in relationship, resides in the United States, and addicted to the Internet.

I began my investigation for appropriate candidates by performing searches utilizing various search engines, such as Yahoo! and Infoseek. Targeted websites were a mixture of individuals, psychiatrists, and organizations dedicated to help and support Internet addicts. A search for Internet mailing lists, which is a form of email discussion group, was also conducted.

According to surveys and studies performed by other sources which were cited in this paper, and according to my own interviews with various cyber housewives, the probable order of precedence for why web-friendly American housewives are addicted to the Internet are:

    • Chats – friendship, companionship, & support
    • Surfing – for information, sites of interest, shopping
    • Cybersex

Housewives spend the majority of their day either at home alone or caring for their children. Therefore, they would be delighted to have adult companionships. Thus, for those with personal computers and Internet access, the Internet would be the most convenient, affordable, and quickest method to seek companionship and information. The Internet can provide so much resource to consume our time that the concept of time is quickly lost. The next thing the cyber housewives realize is that their husbands and or children are home, and that they’re back-loaded with household responsibilities. By the time the cyber housewives or their loved ones recognize that they are addicted to the Internet, they will have to adhere to time-management plans in order to balance their household work and play.

As studies and my interviews show, most housewives’ Internet addictions are conceived out of boredom and the sense of self-excel. Half of my interview candidates expressed that their husbands and families are "Saints." In these situations, the resolutions to their Internet addiction are quite simple -- time-management and the love for their love ones are the keys. Many of the cyber housewives I interviewed felt guilty when their husbands and families expressed neglect. Cyber psychologist Dr. Young and over half of my interviewed candidates stated that time-management is vital. It is not necessary to go "cold turkey." The cyber housewives expressed that as long as they finish their household responsibilities, such as dinners are on time and laundry are done, their husbands and families will not feel neglected. If they are in bed when their husbands are, that’s even better! Many of the cyber housewives actually desire more time on the internet than is available during "normal" hours (above); therefore, they will sacrifice their own time by getting up early or sleeping late in order to complete their online engagements.

For the cyber housewives who are having issues at homes, Internet addiction will be even more addictive and more difficult to extract oneself from. Like other addictions, such as alcohol, in this situation the addiction is merely the surface or cover of the deeper, true problems. For example, if a cyber housewife’s husband neglects her by withholding attention or by abusing her by making her feel unintelligent, the cyber housewife might then go online to seek attention and companionship or to learn computer skills to feel and be recognized as intelligent. These couples should seek professional counseling, in order to reconstruct their marriage.

To these cyber housewives, their Internet friendships and bonds are real. I nternet friends provide them with the companionship and support that they need just like real-life friends do. Most of the housewives I interviewed agreed that they value and trust their Internet friends the same as or more than their real-life friends. Many Internet users know that people actually meet their Internet friends in real-life.

My analysis is that in reality American families who own personal computers at home will experiment with the Internet. I believe that the Internet is very highly and easily addictive because of the vast quantity of information available and the unlimited access of meeting new people to befriend. The environment of spending time virtually instead of physically makes Internet surfers lose track of time easily, which result in the beginning of unintentional neglect to our responsibilities and our love ones. This form of addiction definitely warrants public attention. The current estimated number of U.S. online users is 79 million (Neilson Media Research, Online) and the numbers are increasing daily. Like alcohol and drug addiction awareness programs, the public should be educated of Internet addiction.


1 Cyber housewives refer to women who are stay-at-home wives and or moms.

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Work Cited


U.S. Census Bureau

     <> (November 21, 1998)

Neilson Media Research, Online

     <> (October 26, 1998)

Center for On-Line Addiction

     <> (October 26, 1998)

GVU’s WWW User Surveys

     <> (October 26, 1998)

Marriage Builder

     <> (October 26, 1998)


     <> (October 26, 1998)

Internet Connectivity Study

     <> (October 26, 1998)

     <> (December 2, 1998)




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