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David Baxter

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Addicted to the Internet? It's possible
June 26, 2006
by Alex L. Goldfayn, Chicago Tribune

Ever open up your Web browser to check on a news item, and suddenly an hour has gone by and you're still online?

Ever log on to research a hotel for a trip and find yourself Googling the names of people you went to junior high with? In between, hours, and dozens of Web sites, may have passed by.

Diane Wieland, a psychiatric nurse and a professor of nursing at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, says you might be dealing with Internet addiction.

In May, Wieland's article Computer Addiction: Implications for Nursing Psychotherapy Practice, published in the journal Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, was distributed to the media.

As a former psychology major and clinical-psychology doctoral student, my interest was piqued.

Wieland's piece uses the term Internet addiction disorder.

Symptoms of Internet addiction disorder, according to the article, include a general disregard of one's health, personal needs, nourishment and hygiene. It can result in the "cyber shakes," which include "psychomotor agitation and typing motions of the fingers" while away from the keyboard.

Then there are more general symptoms: dry eyes and repetitive-motion injuries in the hands, wrists, neck, back and shoulders.

According to the article, "extrapolating from prevalence rates of other addictions, five to 10 percent of [Internet] users will most likely experience IAD."

Internet addiction? Cyber shakes? I was dubious. Alcoholism is an addiction. Drugs are addictions. Food can be one too. But the Internet?

I called Wieland.

She related a patient's story that caused her to start looking into Internet addiction:

She saw a woman whose husband was carrying on an Internet affair.

"He went into debt buying all kinds of new technology," Wieland said. "He was very secretive about it. He eventually was on the computer so much that he lost his job.

"To me, it seemed like he's secretive, he's on the computer all the time, and he can't pay attention to his job. It certainly sounds like addiction. It also sounds like infidelity."

She tried to find resources on high-tech addiction in a therapeutic setting but came up empty. There were plenty of articles in the academic community about the matter, but they weren't based in a clinical setting.

So Wieland wrote her article. It is a review that pulls details from those articles and applies them to a clinical setting. She notes that all of the information is compiled from details in the previously published articles.

There's even a 20-question Internet addiction test in her piece. It includes questions like, "How often do you find that you stay online longer than you intended?" and "How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of the Internet?"

"It was clear," Wieland said of her patient's husband. "This person has an addiction. And he had a history of depression."

Which, along with drug addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder, can be an aggravating factor in Internet addiction.

I still wasn't convinced. Those are real-world disorders. Can Internet addiction be in the same ballpark?

"I've had people come in with kids who get really angry when their parents turn off the PlayStation," she said.

Maybe they were in the middle of a good game of Madden football. I'd be angry too.

Wieland's article notes, "Internet addiction is a new term in the psychiatric lexicon; thus, some researchers and practitioners question its validity."

Even Wieland's 25-year-old son "has been arguing with me about this the entire time" since the article was published, she said.

Wieland's approach to the matter is pragmatic.

"The Internet can be used to escape normal stressers in life," she said. "It becomes addiction, in my view, if it starts to dramatically impact the person's life at home and work, where they're neglecting their other, regular responsibilities."

Wieland added, "I agree with the point that the Internet creates easy access to things like gambling, porn, infidelity. It's at your desk, and it's anonymous. Without the Internet, you would have to actually get up and physically go somewhere to get these things," she said. "The Internet provides easy access to these addictions."
 

foghlaim

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I think i can relate to some of the points that Weiland states in the above article.
i usually come on the internet with the intention of only staying online for an hour or so.. but usually wind up staying longer...

don't know if this makes a diff to the points raised tho.. my internet time is usually only on htis site.. because i need the support it gives me. i have no real interest elswhere on the internet.
also the internet, thru the internet i have made some very good friends and because most are so many hrs behind or in front of me i stay a long time waiting for some to show up.

My daughter would be of the opinion that i'm addicted,, maybe she's right???
but it won't stop me..lol :)

nsa
 

sister-ray

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I to can relate to some things in this article too, I use the internet like you Nsa as support both here and some other sites I visit and to talk to a very good friend of mine too. I dont feel Im addicted though, i used to be when I first had my computer, would spend hours on here and stay up all night, things didnt get done, though I didnt neglect hygiene/eating or my birds. Now I have rules about time here and time doing other things like reading, listening to music, watching tv/dvds, i have times when the computer is off completely or at least not online, Im quite strict with myself about it, though I must admit to slipping now and again ;)
 

foghlaim

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I wouldn't say you are addicted either TTE.. you have very good rules for yourself.
i set some as well but they kinda went out the window.. lol

But i would say to you don't let your rules stop you from getting the support you need ok. (the other thread)

nsa
 

sister-ray

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they do tend to go out the window some days :) i wouldnt stop my rules from getting me support, if I needed to be on longer because I needed to chat about problems then I would stay on because its important, TTE
 

foghlaim

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I think we should BLAME David... for our internet behaviour.. after all if He hadn't such a brilliant site\forum.. I prob wouldn't be on as long as i do.. lol


so david... i blame you ok.. i mean i can hardly blame meself now can i.. :)

nsa
 

David Baxter

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Sheesh. I get blamed for everything. If it's not my kids or the cats, it's you guys. :panic:
 

foghlaim

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lol i'm sure you can handle it, after all in one of your other posts, you said you are the one who know it all!!! heh heh

nsa
 

Halo

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Thank you NSA now this is something that I not take the blame for. It wasn't for Dr. B. having such a great site than I wouldn't be on here all the time while I am suppose to be working. :D So the next time my bosses ask me why I don't have my work done than I can shift the blame from me and just say that it is David's fault. :) Your okay with taking the blame right Dr. B. :D
 

foghlaim

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cool.. it's great to have some one else to blame for the amount of time i spend online... heh heh... thanks Dr.B... david.. Big head... whatever name suits you today okay.. lol lol
 
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LOL.

I definitely know I spend too much time on the internet. I think for me it's that there's nothing else to go to. Or no one. And I don't think anything is suffering yet because of it. I've run away from everyone and everything pretty much. I do think it's a result of being depressed. I don't know. :confused:
 

Halo

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I can relate Janet. I too come on here to gain support and encouragement as I don't have any support in my life besides here. For the longest time I had nothing and nobody and felt alone so much that now that I have found this site it is like I can't get enough. I know that I am on here mostly when I am suppose to be working but for me sometimes that is all I can do to just get through my day.

So far no one at work has said anything to me but if and when they do I will have to look at cutting back on my online time but until then....I will continue. I don't think that it is getting in the way of my work as when I got a lot to do I don't come on and I just try to buckle down to get it done so then I have more time to log on here. :)

Another thing for me is to just have support with people that understand me and I don't feel like I am the "only one" that has felt a certain way....that makes a huge difference in my life.
 
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hi janet, i think the internet serves two purposes to us depressed people, well, at least, this is how it works for me. there are two things i want. i want to be left alone and not interact with people, but i want to reach out to others because i do not want to be alone. these are conflicting needs, and the internet solves it. if you're on the computer you get away from people in real life, but at the same time you can connect to others. now i know i should not isolate myself from others, i know that's not good, but at least the internet combats some of the isolation. and who knows, it might lead you to some real life friendships :)
 
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Nancy said:
For the longest time I had nothing and nobody and felt alone so much that now that I have found this site it is like I can't get enough.

I can relate to that, Nancy. I'm glad you're here.

And bbc, that IS an excellent description. I'm glad you put that into words. :)
 

Halo

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BBC Thank you for your post and the description....it is exactly what I was thinking but having a hard time verbalizing.

Thanks again.
 
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I wonder if anyone else can relate to this. The internet, sometimes, seems to help me, but sometimes it seems to add to the depression. Like, especially lately, I get lost in time or something on here and then I realize, wow, I've spent way too much time on here. I should have been doing something else. I start to feel guilty and berate myself for that and it goes around and around. So maybe it can help alleviate the depression, but sometimes it can add to it as well? I'm just not sure how to find a healthy balance right now and my energy level is so low that it is easier to sit here and do not much else. I don't know if that makes any sense at all.
 

Halo

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Janet I think that what you said makes complete sense. I know for me, I spend way too much time on here while I am suppose to be working and sometimes at the end of the day I think that I could have been more productive and got more work done but then I try to flip that around and think that if I didn't have the support of this forum and all of you people than I probably wouldn't be at work at all and even if I did than my concentration would be much worse than it already is. Sometimes just coming on here and identifying and relating to someone or reading a great post is all the encouragement that I need to get through my day. But to answer the question, yes sometimes I get down on myself because I feel like I could give more time to my job and that makes me feel sort of less than as a person.

I don't know if this relates to what you are describing but in my head it just makes sense and something clicked with your post.
 
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That does relate.

I like what you wrote here:

I try to flip that around and think that if I didn't have the support of this forum and all of you people than I probably wouldn't be at work at all and even if I did than my concentration would be much worse than it already is. Sometimes just coming on here and identifying and relating to someone or reading a great post is all the encouragement that I need to get through my day.

And for me I don't have a job, so I guess being here keeps me from thinking worse than I already do. But I do get down on myself about it some. I hope, if the depression can lift, I can find some kind of balance for everything in my life, including the internet. :) I'm hoping anyway.
 

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