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Anna is a quiet 18 year old girl. In her spare time, she keeps her social life in full running condition. Armed with the comfort of using a different persona, she logs on to the net, plays games with online friends from around the world, responds to more than 15 email accounts, and dates a bunch of people belonging to every race conceivable. She may be one of the most inactive person in school but as soon as she logs on to the net, she is the most aggressive bitch you?ve ever came across with. Before she knows it, the day is gone, in fact, it?s 7 o?clock in the morning and she?s going be late for school.
Anna is one of a few people who is suffering from cyber-addiction or in clinical terms, Pathological Internet use1. Cyber-addiction is an obsessive disorder with the computer and an inability to get away from it or connect to the world apart from it2. It affects as many as 5 to 10 percent of internet users3. The people most likely to be addicted4 are people with marked psychological traits that include obsessive- compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and low self-esteem, prior addiction history, those who are introverted, those with college or school stress, those susceptible to societal encouragement, and more women than men.
In a study made by Dr. Kimberly Young, a psychologist in the University of Pittsburgh, only 8 percent of addicts were in the high tech industry. More than 40 percent said they had no permanent jobs and 39 percent were either secretaries, teachers, bank tellers and journalists5.
Experts say that it is not necessarily the number of hours spent on the web but the reasons for being online6. When the internet starts replacing the real life in terms socialization and/or bothers your normal day-to-day functioning, then it starts to be an addiction. Dr. James Fearing said there are three main components of internet addiction7.
First is avoidance, where someone logs-in to the net instead of dealing with their own issues. Next is fantasy, when someone isn?t really happy about the way they are and uses personas different from their
everyday lives to reinvent themselves. Last is sexual, either in the form of pornography or engaging in cybersex.
How do you know if you are a cyber-addict? The Center for Online Addiction give some typical warning signs8:
1. Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous on-line activity or anticipate next on-line session)?
2. Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
3. Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
4. Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
5. Do you stay on-line longer than originally intended?
6. Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
7. Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
8. Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?
If you can answer “yes” to five or more of the questions, then you may suffer from Internet addiction.
Technology offers us a lot of possibilities. The internet, for one, allows us to keep in touch with our friends and family from around the world, approach people we might never have the guts to talk to in real life, and hold a conversation with people we might never see within our lifetime. But when the net intrudes our life to the point that we neglect our normal daily functions and its hard to stop, its probably time to get help.
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