Friday, August 11, 2006

Don't Read This - Or you may be an Internet addict Don't Read This - Or you may be an Internet addict

WSJ: "Don't Read This - Or you may be an Internet addict."
A Canadian survey this month warns that the Internet can cause antisocial behavior. The survey dovetails with a decade of horror stories about people who can't stop spending too much time in front of their computer, even as their lives fall apart. An entire cohort of experts has sprung up to diagnose and treat what they call Internet Addiction Disorder, or IAD. Other experts, so far unwilling to elevate the behavior to addiction level, instead refer to PIU--Pathologic Internet Use, or simply, "internetomania."

Whatever it's called, it must be serious, because there are so many professionals and facilities now offering help for the condition and so many grim statistics accompanying warnings of a virtual epidemic--e.g., that 20% of children may be affected. Look closely, though, and most of the statistics are wild guesswork. In fact, the only thing certain about Internet addiction is that it has created a fresh niche for people who make their living marketing services to deal with the latest disorder.

The symptoms of this one, we are told, are not unlike those of alcoholism or compulsive gambling--featuring. similar destructive urges and psychological dependence. The effects range from ruined marriages to bladder problems caused by an unwillingness to take a break from the screen.

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