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David Baxter

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Hooked On The 'Net
By: Heather Holliday

ADDICTION
Over 44 million families are online, and over half of their members--about 25 million people--may qualify as compulsive surfers. So is "Internet Addiction" a new psychological phenomenon?

In a study published recently in the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers from the University of Florida (UF) and the University of Cincinnati examined the habits of 20 people who had spent more than 30 nonworking hours a week online for the past three years. The participants described skipping sleep, ignoring family responsibilities, and showing up late for work to fulfill their desire to visit chat rooms and surf the Web. The consequences were severe: Many suffered from marital problems, failed in school or lost a job, and accumulated debt.

The evidence points to a psychological disorder, so researchers probed further and found that the participants' habits met the criteria for impulse control disorders, mental illnesses characterized by an uncontrollable desire to perform a behavior that, once executed, is often followed by a huge sense of relief. And most of the participants had a history of additional psychiatric problems like eating disorders and manic depression.

Despite their apparent sufferings, the study's participants were not easily identifiable, says Nathan Shapira, Ph.D., a UF assistant psychiatry professor and co-author of the study. "These people were intelligent, well-respected community members," he says. "They were like your next-door neighbor--who just lost control."

Given the confounding nature of the participants' various symptoms, Shapira believes the essential issue remains: Is Internet "addiction" a distinct disorder or a symptom of another well-defined disorder? "It's too early to know," he says. "But my sense is that this problem is going to get worse as the size and speed of the Internet increases."

Publication: Psychology Today
Publication Date: Jul/Aug 2000
(Document ID: 188)
 

dmcgill

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Cure for Internet addiction (still therory)

I believe different personalities have different reactions. For example, some can use an addicting drug and be addicted right away while others can fool around with it for years before it catches them off guard and takes control.

I think a cure for internet addiction would be give them a computer with the good old 2400 Baud dial up modem and tell them to search to their hearts content.

I tend to believe it is not an addiction as much as a disorder.
 

Daniel

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I think a cure for internet addiction would be give them a computer with the good old 2400 Baud dial up modem and tell them to search to their hearts content.

Great point. Even a 56k dialup connection would be slow enough for some DSL users.
 

Ash

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Re: Cure for Internet addiction (still therory)

dmcgill said:
I think a cure for internet addiction would be give them a computer with the good old 2400 Baud dial up modem and tell them to search to their hearts content.

LOL!!! Oh, I remember the good old days. <shudder> Never stopped me. ;-)
 

HA

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dmcgill wrote:
I think a cure for internet addiction would be give them a computer with the good old 2400 Baud dial up modem and tell them to search to their hearts content.

LOL.....that would send me back to the library! Can you have a library addiction?

Cheers
Judy
 

stargazer

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What intrigues me about "Internet addiction" is that, unlike other addictions with which I am familiar, there is no phenomenon of craving when away from the desk. At least not for me, or for others I've spoken with. Spending sufficient time at my desktop can trigger what I imagine is an impulse control disorder, but when I'm geographically away from the computer, I don't even think about it. In my mind, this segues into another interesting phenomenon, in that one's "online personality" often seems to differ significantly from the way that person comes across in "real life." I'm currently trying to work on presenting myself in a more consistent manner online and offline, knowing that I'm likely to be online just about as often as I'm off, barring a major psychic change on my part.
 

Daniel

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Spending sufficient time at my desktop can trigger what I imagine is an impulse control disorder, but when I'm geographically away from the computer, I don't even think about it.
This is a good point and another reason I like the freeware programs at Download.com that remind people to take a break from the computer to prevent repetitive stress injuries. My favorite is Break Reminder, which is free for non-commercial use.

As a side note, the topic of Internet and TV addiction reminds me of William Shatner titling one of his books Get a Life! as a response to addicted Star Trek fans.
 

Dizzy

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lol. I can remember the old 300 baud modem on my Commodore 64. Logging onto BBS's.

Wow, can belive how far along things have come.
 

Dizzy

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lol. I can remember the old 300 baud modem on my Commodore 64. Logging onto BBS's.

Wow, can belive how far along things have come.
 

incognito

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stargazer said:
What intrigues me about "Internet addiction" is that, unlike other addictions with which I am familiar, there is no phenomenon of craving when away from the desk. At least not for me, or for others I've spoken with. Spending sufficient time at my desktop can trigger what I imagine is an impulse control disorder, but when I'm geographically away from the computer, I don't even think about it. In my mind, this segues into another interesting phenomenon, in that one's "online personality" often seems to differ significantly from the way that person comes across in "real life." I'm currently trying to work on presenting myself in a more consistent manner online and offline, knowing that I'm likely to be online just about as often as I'm off, barring a major psychic change on my part.

wow...that's a really good point. I would say that I am definitely addicted to the internet...or however you want to define it...I spend way too much time online, often neglecting other things. But when I am away from home...it's not something I think about. When I am home however, I completely obsess. In terms of it being a distinct disorder or a symptom of something else, I believe, for myself at least, it is simply a symptom (or result?) of other things in my life.
 

stargazer

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Yes. A cocaine addict is always thinking about cocaine, where to get some, when to do it, how to get away with it, etc. The only time I think about the Internet is when I'm on the Internet. My problem seems to be I often have difficulty getting *off* the Internet. But once I'm off, I'm fine.

Not sure what this is symptomatic of, or a result of...the Internet has fascinated me from Day One. For others I know, the Internet has no appeal whatsoever, if it doesn't downright scare them to death.
 

David Baxter

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It's one of the reason I call it "internet compulsion" rather than "internet addiction" - it's more similar to compulsive behavior, in the sense of the "fixed action patters" that ethologists talk about in things like courtship behavior or nestbuilding in animals.
 
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I've noticed the worse I feel the more time I spend on the internet. Or maybe it's the other way around. I 'm not sure.

The only time I think about the Internet is when I'm on the Internet. My problem seems to be I often have difficulty getting *off* the Internet. But once I'm off, I'm fine.

I think this is true for me too.
 

stargazer

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I don't know. I keep thinking there's got to be a way for the combined Internet-behavior and non-Internet-behavior of any single human being to be integrated in a healthy balance in that person's overall life. I can sort of tell when I myself am over-focused on Internet activities and relationships, because I'll actually *feel* a sense of relief whenever I get up and leave the computer, even if it's just to go to the refrigerator or the bathroom. At other times, I'll have been away from the computer for perhaps days on end, and I can't wait to get home and check my e-mail to see who might have written. I'll rush home, and if there are no e-mails other than spam, I'll feel slightly rejected or let down. To me, neither of these examples seems indicative of a healthy balance.

I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that as I get busier in my "real-world," my Internet life tends to take care of itself. I just wish there were a way I didn't have to rely on external factors to curb or refine my Internet usage. I'm still at the stage where, every time I walk through the door, the first thing I do is go to the computer.

Admittedly, I don't own a TV or have many other "creature comforts." I'll be getting a guitar later on today, though, so maybe I can start spending equal time playing the guitar. But there is also the factor that the relatively new world of the Internet is so vast and huge, there seems really to be no end to what new places it can take you. One always senses that one is only scratching the surface in finding the real value and treasure of the Internet. I think that's what makes it so compelling.
 

Thelostchild

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:eek:fftopic: I have an excuse for being on the internet. Its the only thing I have to do. Hum I guess you could say Im an internet junky :lol:
 

stargazer

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Well, as long as you *want* to be on the Internet, I guess that's all good. Me, I sort of want to be outside enjoying the day, but someone's coming by at an undetermined time this afternoon to drop off a paycheck, so I sort of have to stay here. Once the paycheck comes, I'll be able to get out of the house, go to the bank, spend the money on clothing, etc. In the meantime, I'd read a book or something, but chances are there's a version of it in pdf form somewhere on the Internet, and it won't hurt my eyes so much as having to squint at those old-fashioned pages, and keep turning them, etc., like I used to do in the days before computers. I think my eyes have just gotten used to seeing everything on the computer screen.

One thing I'll have to get is bigger speakers though. I listen to all my music on the computer, too, and I need more power.
 

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