Do you keep your smartphone at your bedside and find yourself checking your emails and Facebook as soon as you get up in the morning? Are you finding that your desire to go online throughout the day is becoming a mild obsession?

You could be developing a "soft" addiction.

"Unlike hard addictions like drugs, nicotine and alcohol, there are no severe consequences for obsessively checking your email or going on Facebook on a regular basis throughout the day," said Dr. Steven Tobias, Director of the Center for Child and Family Development in Morristown. "What you need to ask yourself is, does it feel good, do you have a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment or some need being met?"

"You may have a strong need that's forcing you to check and re-check emails and the like and so it feels good initially when that need is met, but you have to think about afterwards and how you're feeling then," said Tobias. "Often, the sign of an addiction is that you're not feeling good about what you're doing. You also need to ask yourself if it's interfering with your functioning in some way. Are you doing this in a productive way? Is it what you ultimately want to be doing? If you find that it's taking way too much time and you're not getting to other things the way you'd like to be, chances are it's a "soft" addiction."

So, you've determined you're well on your way to developing a "soft" addiction, now what?

"You can always talk to someone like a therapist or support group," said Tobias. "But, you can also not expose yourself to it. If you're on a diet, you don't want to go walking into the bakery. So, don't turn on the computer, don't have your phone by your bedside. Structure your life so that there are only certain times when you'll be checking the internet. Don't do it when you feel like it because it's those feelings that are causing the addiction. If you really think about what you're doing and do it in a much more deliberate, thoughtful, planned manner, that's how you can begin to get control over it."

"Bottom line," said Tobias. "Make it deliberate rather than impulsive."