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Symptoms of Online Shopping Addiction

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Last updated: 09/14/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

With the Internet becoming an integral part of everyday life, it’s no wonder so many offline activities have migrated over to online environments. Nowadays, the line between offline and online shopping has become indistinguishable with so many people doing comparison shopping online before actually making in-store purchases.

For someone with an online shopping addiction, the Internet may very well spell big trouble. Online shopping addictions exist inside a virtual world where people can easily forget they’re shopping with real money. Symptoms of online shopping addiction are the same as those for offline shopping with the added convenience and easy accessibility features that the Internet brings.

Online Shopping Addictions

Online Shopping Addiction

An addiction to online shopping can be harmful to your wallet, emotions, and relationships.

Along with it being an extension of shopping addiction in general, online shopping addiction exists as one of five different types of internet addiction disorder. This means people addicted to shopping are that much more likely to become addicted to the Internet. It also means addiction really know no bounds when it comes to uncontrollable, impulse-type behaviors.

Like most every addiction, the negative consequences caused by an uncontrollable behavior become the telltale sign of addiction, according to a University of Rhode Island report. Over time, the thrill of making an online purchase takes priority over financial obligations, relationship problems and even a person’s job in some cases.

The virtual nature of the Internet further aggravates online shopping addiction as there’s no actual physical exchange of money for merchandise. This, in turn, may have a compulsive shopper making even more purchases in order to feel the expected shopper’s “high.” The added disconnect between the purchase and a person’s wallet makes this process all the more easy to do. Much like the endorphin surge felt by compulsive gamblers and even drug addicts, the shopper’s “high” only reinforces the behavior, which keeps the shopper coming back for more.

Buying Behaviors

A person’s buying behaviors provide some of the most obvious symptoms of online shopping addiction. The three most glaring behaviors include:

  • Compulsive buying
  • Spending over budget
  • Fluctuating emotions

Compulsive buying has to do with what a person intends to buy and what he or she actually ends up purchasing. In this case, a trip to an online store to buy a pair of jeans turns into a 10-pair purchase. The compulsion to buy becomes so overwhelming that budget concerns are the farthest thing from a person’s mind. Fluctuating emotions go from thrill to let-down: from adding items to the cart to leaving the website.

Relationship Behaviors

When someone’s doing something they know or suspect they shouldn’t be doing, relationship interactions with others may start to take a turn for the worse. In the case of a married couple, a wife who’s accumulated thousands of dollars in online debt may open up a separate bank or credit card account to hide her activity.

Likewise, an addiction tends to take up large chunks of time. Someone with an online shopping addiction spends more time online and less time with friends and family. As addictions become increasingly worse with time, online shopping behaviors can easily spill over into the workplace and jeopardize yet another important area in a person’s life.

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