Trapped on the Web: Internet Addiction Disorder

IMAGE It is an understatement to say that the Internet has changed the way we communicate. We turn to our computers in search of information and e-mail friends rather than pick up the phone. Some of us shop online while others spend hours reading blogs, playing games, or even searching for romance. If you click around long enough, you might even stumble across an Internet addiction quiz. Could you have a problem?

A Result of Computerized Life

A number of psychologists and other medical specialists have claimed that certain people really are at risk for computer overuse.There may be a growing number of people with an Internet-related disorder as our culture becomes more and more dependent on the computer, not only through work that is ever more computer focused, but also through socializing and entertainment that is increasingly computer mediated.Priscilla C., in fact, met her current boyfriend through an online card game in a chat room. "I am not sure how you get attracted to someone over the computer, but that is how our relationship started," she says.John D., a computer technician, also spends many hours online playing computer games at work and connecting with various people through instant messaging. "In my role as tech support, there is a lot of downtime when we are just waiting for someone to call for help. Having the computer around really helps with those slow moments." While neither Priscilla nor John has a problem, both use the computer to supplement face-to-face relationships rather than replace them. There are others who use the computer to avoid human contact or their responsibilities.

When the Computer Takes Control

Internet addiction can come in different forms. You may be familiar with the terms computer addiction, Internet addiction disorder, or cyberaddiction. They are all terms used to label abuses that can range from overuse of computer games, excessive monitoring of pornography sites, or simply staying online with little regard for the time. These behaviors become a problem when they start effecting relationships and work. Internet addiction is a growing social issue that is also associated with other psychiatric problems such as depression or anxiety.

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