Are You Addicted to the Net?   (Society)

   Seriously? Dr. Kimberly Young, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, and director of the Center for Online Addiction, is dead serious. With an estimated one person joining the online community every second, the problem is more widespread that you would think.

Internet Addiction is a psychological dependence on the Internet or compulsive computer use to the point that it causes family and relationship problems, job loss, physical exhaustion or failure in school. Experts seem to believe that Internet Addiction is usually a sign of a more serious relationship problem and is often linked to other addictions.

Here are some of the early warning signs that you or someone you know might be addicted:

  • sneaking online in the middle of the night
  • calling in sick to stay at home and surf
  • spouse or children asking you to spend more or your time with them
  • easily angered when interrupted while online
  • you have/had a prior addiction of some type

One of the most common problems are the 'fantasy relationships' that can quickly flourish online. With many people having little time to socialize in person, they turn to online chat rooms and other user groups. This quick and seemingly safe escape from reality only worsens matters. For addicts the Net in general often distracts them from other areas of their lives, such as their families or jobs.

In her book Caught in the Net (John Wiley & Sons), Dr. Young offers information on how to recognize signs of Internet addiction and strategies for recovery. For more information on Internet Addiction point to www.netaddiction.com.