Fighting Internet addiction

Warning signs

Los Angeles Times on Internet addiction, which seems, to me, an awfully faddish new phenomenon.

Today, you can earn a living, learn a trade, meet people and even plan a funeral entirely online. In fact, with the exception of hygiene and eating, almost all needs can be met in cyberspace.

Not only does the Internet put a colossal resource of information at your fingertips and — courtesy of BlackBerries and cellphones — make accessibility almost effortless, it creates the ability to carry out a private, often secret, life. Such a scenario is ripe for addiction.

The American Psychiatric Assn. at present does not recognize Internet addiction as an actual disorder, but then again, some people spend too much time watching television, reading, or following sports, and no such diagnosis exists for those activities. It isn’t necessarily the number of hours spent online that determines a problem, but rather the effect such use may have. If Internet time has interfered with relationships, finances, employment or health, consider that a warning sign.

Typically people spend too much time online for one of two reasons. The first is that it serves as an escape from real-life problems. Similar to the function drugs play for people who are anxious, depressed or bored, the Internet can provide an outlet. Like other types of addictions, it offers a high, a thrill, an escape into a magical, sometimes even erotic, fantasy world.

Okay, people nowadays spent a considerable amount of time on the Internet, but are they spending more time on the ‘Net than watching television?  Some people spend up to three hours a night in front of the television tube and nobody is worrying about television addiction.

Certainly one should be mindful of the time spent in front of the computer tube, but the Internet can be a heck of a lot more educational than television.  If used appropriately, of course.

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