Are You an Internet Addict?

I was reading through an AFP report on Yahoo! News that says Serbia is now treating people with Internet addictions. This counseling center considers anyone who is not interested in daily activities with family and friends as a potential Internet addict and looks for other signs such as spending prolonged hours online, turning to virtual friends, and isolation. I’m not sure exactly how they treat Internet addiction, but they say treatment usually lasts one year. 

After reading this, I headed over to Net Addiction and took an Internet Addiction Test (IAT) that told me my Internet usage is causing occasional problems in my life. I won’t take that test too seriously because my occupation requires me to be online a lot of the time. However, I will keep that in mind next time I choose surfing the web over, er, household chores. Can you blame me?Internet addiction can be harmful for those who delve into the darker side of the web, such as online gambling, cybersex, online affairs, and online gaming. But how do you know when you or someone you love is addicted to the Internet? When is it time to pull the plug and seek treatment?

Here’s a list of common symptoms to watch out for:

1. Lying about how much time is spent online.
2. General decrease of physical activity and social life.
3. Neglecting obligations at home, work, or school to spend time online.
4. Spending too much money on computer equipment or Internet activities.
5. Feeling a constant desire to be online when they’re away from the computer.
6. Going online to escape real world problems.
7. Disregarding the emotional or physical consequences of being in front of a computer all day.
8. Denial of the problem.

There is much debate about the reality of Internet addiction. The bottom line is that anything can be harmful when abused. If you find yourself spending more time online than with real people, then plan for some quality time with the family or friends every other day. Find an activity the whole family enjoys and make a date with them.

I personally disconnect completely every weekend and get out of the house so I’m not tempted to check email. I also have movie nights and “Lost” nights during the week, which are a great excuse to turn off the computer. Different things work for different people, so just find something you enjoy and don’t hesitate to shut the computer off.

What do you do to escape cyberspace?

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