Thursday, October 30, 2008

Internet Addiction

Internet Addicts don’t steal to pay for their habits. They don’t lock themselves in bathrooms and shove needles up their arms or snort things through their noses. Their addictions don’t cause car accidents or impair their judgment or ability to make decisions, but that doesn’t mean an Internet addiction isn’t dangerous.

Internet addictions have broken up marriages and strained friendships. They’ve torn apart families and gotten in the way of school and work. Because an Internet addiction isn’t seen as life-threatening as drug addiction, it’s a lot more acceptable. Because it’s legal doesn’t mean we should be any less aware of what can happen if we spend all our time online.

The Internet vs. The Real World
The Internet is attractive to so many people because it offers something we don’t have in the real world, anonymity. People who are shy or have trouble speaking to others can have intense discussions online. People who feel they’re unattractive or unpopular can have many online friends. In fact, there’s really no need to leave the house anymore. Now that we can shop, chat, play, date, even have sex online. One can see how easy it is for someone to get hooked.

Signs of Internet Addiction
There are those who spend a lot of time on the Internet and there are those who are just plain addicted. People who spend too much time online, might have trouble tearing themselves away from their computer screens, but people who are addicted can’t seem to do so at all. Here are some signs of Internet Addiction:

· Spending hours online without a break.
· Preferring to spend time with a computer over friends and family.
· Lying about the amount of time spent online.
· Hiding what you do online.
· Checking email several times an hour.
· Family complains about the amount of time spent online.
· Thoughts are always on the Internet – even when offline.
· Logging on while at work or school instead of working or studying.
· The first thing an addict does when family leaves the house is log on.

Statistics and Studies
The Washington Post listed some interesting statistics:
About 6% of surveyed individuals responded, “their relationships suffered as a result of excessive Internet use.”
About 9% attempted to conceal “nonessential Internet use.”
Nearly 4% reported feeling “preoccupied by the Internet when offline.”
About 8% said they used the Internet as a way to escape problems
Almost 14% reported they “found it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time.”

A 2006 telephone-based Stanford University Study revealed one in eight individuals displayed at least one “problematic” sign of excessive Internet use. Elias Aboujaoude, a clinical Assistant Psycholology and Behavioral Sciences Professor at Stanford’s Impulse Control Disorders Clinic likens these problematic behaviors such as the constant need to check email or visit online forums and chat rooms as being similar to the cravings drug addicts experience.

Some statistics from the Stanford University study:
% 13.7 of those interviewed found it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time
% 12.4 stayed online longer than intended very often or often
% 12.3 had seen a need to cut back on Internet use at some point
% 8.7 attempted to conceal non-essential Internet use from family, friends and employers
% 8.2 used the Internet as a way to escape problems or relieve negative mood
% 5.9 felt their relationships suffered as a result of excessive Internet use

If you find you’re online more than off, that your real-world relationships are sacrificed to cyber friends you’ve never met, and you can’t stay away from your computer … you may be addicted to the Internet.
Because Internet addiction doesn’t impair one’s ability to judge and think clearly like drugs, it’s a more socially acceptable addiction. Plus, many who spend large blocks of time online refuse to believe there’s such a thing as Internet addiction, anyway.
If the time you spend online is straining relationships in the real world and getting in the way or school or work, do seek help or at least make an attempt to spend less time online. As many things as there are to do online, there are more in the real world. Get out and explore.

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