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Hooked On The Web

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the they-just-described-my-job-description dept.

The Internet 298

MT writes "The New York Times is running an interesting article entitled Hooked On The Web: Help is on the Way. It says that internet addiction is being taken more seriously by big business and mental health workers, and affects a large population (6%-10% of all users)." From the article: "Skeptics argue that even obsessive Internet use does not exact the same toll on health or family life as conventionally recognized addictions. But, mental health professionals who support the diagnosis of Internet addiction say, a majority of obsessive users are online to further addictions to gambling or pornography or have become much more dependent on those vices because of their prevalence on the Internet. But other users have a broader dependency and spend hours online each day, surfing the Web, trading stocks, instant messaging or blogging, and a fast-rising number are becoming addicted to Internet video games."

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Is it just me... (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158438)

...or did this feel like an intervention focused solely on me?

I don't look at it as an addiction, really. There are those who have an honest drive for information. My life, my job and my hobbies revolve around information. I always think about the "it:" How does it work, where did it come from, why isn't it better, who else likes it?

With new forms of information available so quickly (wikipedia, google, etc) everywhere I go, I often have information in mere moments. I can turn on my PDA phone in about 2 seconds, touch tap (with my super thumb nail) any phrase into Google for PDA, and have a response in under a minute total. Does it mean I am addicted? Not when I am able to take so much of that "useless" information and transform it into a positive: profit or social fun or who knows what? The other day I was wondering what ever happened to those crazy "bubbles" of informational tidbits on TV shows and videos and was thinking how cool it would be to integrate a device with my TV that listens to content and offers instant pop-ups from the web.

People want information. 6-10% of the people thrive on knowing weird things. Does it mean we're hooked? I'm the same kid who loved the encyclopedia as well as odd old books that no one would read. The fact that I can now integrate with billions of others simultaneously adding/revising/editing/deleting the synopses of information that exist is mindblowing. Just 15 years ago I was running a BBS with a thousand or so users and I couldn't believe that one 16 year old kid could interact with so many people in such a large area (a hundred square miles). Now I look at the e-mails I receive from my blogs from people in South Africa and Australia and even Kansas. What is the end game for me? Information.

Insert obligatory "oh my God that guy played Ghandi" Sneakers quote here. I'll let you information addicts look it up.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158562)

sounds like you need one of those ClickCat things from Radio Shack infomercials a few years back. it was the dumb thing that brought you to a product webpage by scanning a barcode, and automatically popped up a product website on you TV if it broadcast a certain signal during a show or commercial.

Unfortunately, the name seems to belong to a pdf converter/easy html program so no dice on a link. I had a bunch of them since they were free, and could easily be hacked to do many random useless things.

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158706)

Your problem with finding a link is probably caused by it actually being the CueCat: http://www.cuecat.com/ [cuecat.com]

Re:Is it just me... (3, Insightful)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158570)

This is why the psychology industry has lost all credibility with me. Every failing that a person has is now some addiction or other problem that is beyond their control. It is all part of the victimization of Humans. They have nearly ruined our judicial system. Every big trial now has competing "experts" that will take whatever position they are paid to take.

Re:Is it just me... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158683)

I predict there will be a lot of other dismissive responses to this story.

But ask youself, is the Internet sometimes a distraction from getting things done? Are you sometimes tempted to put off work by browsing Slashdot? Maybe you're not, but I have, um, a friend who is. It's an issue that merits discussion, even if we reserve the word "addiction" for more serious cases.

Re:Is it just me... (2, Interesting)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158810)

But let's ask the real questions then.

Are you sometimes distracted from gettings things done? Are you sometimes tempted to put off work?

Oh wait, that sounds like almost everyone. So one person decides to be distracted by the internet. Others may be by books. I know a lot of people who put off work by sleeping, and I mean more than the regular 8 hours per night. Let's just all find the things that distract us or pick those things we do while putting off work and call ourselves addicted. It is getting to be a sham.

I'm not saying that there is no such thing as addiction. I'm also not saying that addictions aren't serious things. But let's stop calling things addictions when they are simply things people do. That actually lessens the seriousness of real addictions that people have.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

netruner (588721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158724)

I have to agree with mordors9 on this - psychology as a subject started off with a reputation as a pseudoscience and it looks to be coming full circle. The notion that we can label anything an "addiction" or "compulsion" if we find it objectionable in any way and through that stigmatize it tells me that there is something other than science at work here.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158819)

Interesting, although I'm also against individual classifications of addiction. There are truely some people with addictive personalities, but I don't see much difference (aside from consequences) of alcohol addiction and internet addiction - it's just what particular medium satisfies the person's addictive nature. (Also, many people of addiction are addicted to more than one particular thing.)

So does the internet need a completely different classification? I don't think so. And is everyone that spends hours on the internet mentally ill? Not at all. Let's not dismiss all addictive personalities as not a true illness, but also lets realize that the current state of psychology does tend to classify just about everyone with some disorder just to prove their worth.

Re:Is it just me... (5, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158817)

This is why the psychology industry has lost all credibility with me. Every failing that a person has is now some addiction or other problem that is beyond their control.

The psychologists can't help this kind of behavior, because they're addicted to it.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

kaleposhobios (757438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158572)

perhaps the problem is that you can't function without the information, in which case it is an addiction.

Not you, as such, necessarily, just someone in a similar situation to yours.

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158575)

The other day I was wondering what ever happened to those crazy "bubbles" of informational tidbits on TV shows and videos and was thinking how cool it would be to integrate a device with my TV that listens to content and offers instant pop-ups from the web.

Interesting idea. If you could automate it, it would succeed where everyone else failed (standard-issue chicken-and-egg problem... it's been tried many times but nobody wanted to waste their time embedding the popup cues in the video stream for the three users who owned the kit, and nobody else would buy the kit without a reason to use it). Automation is almost always the short circuit to the chicken-and-egg problem. The problem then becomes how to automate it ;)

Re:Is it just me... (0)

bdcrazy (817679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158871)

I used to love that vh1 show called pop up video. I would love to see that in real life.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

Buffo (773488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158607)

Can you be addicted to information? Does that even make sense?

Ok - I agree that there are *some* people that are addicted to Internet gambling. And surely there are plenty more examples of 'Net surfers that could be identified as "addicted" to pr0n. (You know the type... "But, but, I *need* my 160 gigs of all-anal-animal-pr0n!")

But do these groups comprise 6 to 10% of the users? No way.

I think the article incorrectly identifies what I would call "power users" of the Internet as being addicted to it. But as you poinited out, most power users are just curious about things in general, and are using the 'Net to *learn* about new things. (However trivial the topic in question may seem.)

I honestly can't see how you could ever classify the quest for knowledge as an addiciton.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

ashtophoenix (929197) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158800)

Sure, you can get addicted to information. You can get addicted to anything for that matter. You may turn back and call it being a positive thing, that aids your mental development, but if you can't stay without it, it's an addiction nonetheless. Reading the same amount of information voluntarily, being in control, is very different from having a desire to get that information or not being able to live without it. It's about mental control.

Re:Is it just me... (2, Interesting)

SparafucileMan (544171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158616)

Only one problem with having that information so easily accessible: people tend to look things up instead of thinking it through for themselves. Information is only worth something if you understand it.

As Einstsin's saying goes "people who read alot of books are stupid" or something like that. Google couldn't find the quote for me fast enough. ;p

Re:Is it just me... (1)

chillmost (648301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158768)

...or did this feel like an intervention focused solely on me?

Oh, was it for you? Because I thought they were trying to reach me but that would be a waste of time because I don't have a problem. I can stop whenever I want. In fact I will just as soon as I check my email and RSS feeds. And podcasts. Oh and, uh, that one website with the, uh, thingys on it.

No sir, no problem here.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158895)

This just in: being a nerd is a disease. Everyone on /. now has to spend major $$$ on being "fixed". Seriously, that's how I take it.

Having said that, infornography extends to all the day time talk shows and all the day/night celebrity shows. It sounds like mental health professionals are searching for a problem that doesn't exist*. :/

*Not every mental activity that has detrimental consequences is an addiction, nor something for which mental health professionals have any ability to diagnose, let alone treat.

Obsession (5, Funny)

Pretendstocare (816218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158440)

Yeah but at least obsessive internet users get the frist psot!!!!!!!

Re:Obsession (1)

chillmost (648301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158807)

Yeah but at least obsessive internet users get the frist psot!!!!!!! We can safely say that you don't have problem.

I keep hitting refresh (5, Funny)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158441)

But the comments don't come fast enough. Gotta . . . get . . . my . . . fix.

Re:I keep hitting refresh (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158519)

You can get rid of refresh entirely -- subscribe to slashdot, add the subscriber RSS feed to your RSS browser and have it notify you when an article goes from red to black :)

Web, a Distraction at Work (2, Interesting)

PlayfullyClever (934896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158445)

It is a non-issue to realize that most of the modern day losses in productivity come from distracted workers using the internet for personal pleasure rather than company projects. This distraction effort splits the focus of the individual and causes a decrease in the finite amount of cognitive processing ability given to any one task. Marijuana on the other hand results in modification of the reward pathway system in the brain. So there is an actually psychochemical difference in the brain which leads to addiction. Between the two, marijuana actually modifies the brain negatively while email only distracts. I really wish these people had taken the time to realize this before putting out a sensationalist piece of work.

Re:Web, a Distraction at Work (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158492)

Yet in MY experience (and I have about 12 years of that experience actually paying attention to PC use in various customers' offices), the time wasted is actually a positive for motivating the employee. Nowadays we take work with us almost everywhere, including the home. The old days of working 36 hours a week and spending 10 of those hours on break, at the water cooler and in TPS meetings were not as productive as the 80 hours a week we're working (even if 30 of those hours are spent doing personal things for 30 seconds here and 90 seconds there).

I'm very sure that slashdot and other blogs make me more productive.

Re:Web, a Distraction at Work (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158500)

Hey, if the rest of the company could function as a coherent organization, we wouldn't have this problem. In every job I've been to, people surf the internet because *there is no work to do.* Database down, server down, you need information/work from another department first, completed current assignment and waiting for another, roadblock and you can't find out how to proceed.

The internets provide windows of sanity in what would otherwise be one disaster after another

Re:Web, a Distraction at Work (1)

Miraba (846588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158889)

Mod the parent up.

While I don't think it may be correct for all companies, it certainly is applicable to those that have a high number of procedural delays (the sciences, for example). While I'm usually killing between 15 minutes and 2 hours, I once spent a full week in front of the computer, waiting for someone in another department to hand me a working program.

Re:Web, a Distraction at Work (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158523)

Marijuana on the other hand results in modification of the reward pathway system in the brain.

Not a permanent modification, of course. And there is no physical dependency (the original meaning of "addiction"). I'm not sure any expert on the subject would describe marijuana's effects as "modification of the reward pathway system in the brain".

Between the two, marijuana actually modifies the brain negatively while email only distracts.

Negatively? Based on what metric, exactly?

How do you feel about alcohol, by the way? I'm curious why your mind jumped from "Internet" addiction to "Marijuana" addiction, as opposed to truly addictive and deadly substances like tobacco, alcohol, morphine, heroin, etc.

Perhaps just a semi-subtle troll attempt?

Re:Web, a Distraction at Work (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158598)

Addicted to marijuana huh? Marijuana modifying the brain? I hate it when people think they know what they're talking about.

This distraction effort splits the focus of the individual and causes a decrease in the finite amount of cognitive processing ability given to any one task

That is probably the biggest bullshit sentance i've ever read. This isn't your highschool lit class, there is no mimimum word requirement. Stop trying to sound smarter than you are, it aint workin.
Seriously though man, you probably shouldn't believe everything the D.A.R.E. program taught you in middle school. And no, marijuana does not fund terrorism either...

Re:Web, a Distraction at Work (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158634)

I *need* the distraction. Someone (maybe it was here) once compared it to a serving of sherbert between courses to clean the palatte. I do really intense system on a chip design and and uberspeed digital/RF work, and I need to come up for air and read a little news every now and then. I'm productive *and* informed. :)

Re:Web, a Distraction at Work (1)

ashtophoenix (929197) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158826)

Maybe it can be looked upon as a positive thing in terms of self-control. It being so easy to browse the web at work, espc for pleasure, demands a higher level of self-control from you. One who is able to exhibit that level of self-control would enjoy a higher satisfaction resulting from a higher level of self-mastery/mind-control.

Re:Web, a Distraction at Work (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158840)

Being addicted to drugs is as much a disease as being addicted to the internet. Neither of these are diseases, anyone can choose to stop if they have a drive to do so. Lack of self control is not a disease it's a personal problem which is all addiction boils down to.

sdfg (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158446)

sdfgsdfg

Hooked on the web (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158447)

Now who would ever read about this on, well, slashdot?

IT professional (1)

twd (167101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158453)

Does having a job requiring the use of the Internet and Web for hours a day qualify me as addicted?

Ditto. (1)

stavromueller (934803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158556)

Yah, I'm on the internet for 8+ hours a day...it's my job to be. Hmm...

Re:IT professional (2, Funny)

Jotii (932365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158564)

That's like working in a marijuana test-lab.

Clue # 1 (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158476)

If you are reading a slashdot article about being hooked on the web when you should be working, you may be hooked on the web.

Now, let me get back to work.

Oh wait, what's this about RIM??? (click)

Re:Clue # 2 - Your To Connected When (1)

corcoranp (892008) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158647)

You're reading /., and your desk phone, Linc radio, & cell goes off at the same time, you just heard your blackberry go off so you switch over to Outlook (because for now your bb gets email before Outlook syncs with Exchange (don't be hatin, I'm at work)) by the time the flurry is over your hour lunch just became a 2 and half hour connect-fest and all you really did was leave a post on /.

Video games, eh? (1)

stavromueller (934803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158477)

"and a fast-rising number are becoming addicted to Internet video games" Just Internet video games... what about video games in general?

Re:Video games, eh? (1)

Noog (934684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158527)

Well, I think they are referring to mmorpg's, where the sense of community and belonging becomes a major source for the person's feeling of well being - much more so than a non-internet video game can.

Addicted? (1)

Valacosa (863657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158499)

Uh, what definition of "addiction" are they using here? Does the internet chemically change your mind? Does one become physically dependent on the internet? If not, then how is this different than, say, pen and paper D&D?
 
Hell, because of things like "Runner's High", I'd wager that playing regular sports is about as addictive as the internet...but we never read about that in the news, do we?

Re:Addicted? (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158546)

Hell, because of things like "Runner's High", I'd wager that playing regular sports is about as addictive as the internet...but we never read about that in the news, do we?

Yes but picking on geeks is so much more fun then picking on jocks. :-)

Re:Addicted? (1)

Jotii (932365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158596)

Addictions aren't always physical. According to the wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] , "Addiction is a compulsion to repeat a behavior regardless of its consequences", which is exactly what we internet users are doing.

Re:Addicted? (1)

Buffo (773488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158769)

"...regardless of its consequences"

This implies that there needs to be some negative consequence of a power user's high usage of the Internet in order for it to be classified as an addiction.

But the overwhelming majority of power users I know gain significant benefit from their 'Net connection. Where is the negative consequence that should otherwise dissuade them from using the Internet?

I think that the "addicted" label just doesn't apply outside of a few special (and comparatively rare) cases. (Gambling, gaming, and pr0n, for example.)

Re:Addicted? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158711)

Hell, because of things like "Runner's High", I'd wager that playing regular sports is about as addictive as the internet
As somebody who forces myself to exercise almost every day, you're wrong. I only wish you were right.

Re:Addicted? (1)

n0dalus (807994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158740)

Does the internet chemically change your mind? Does one become physically dependent on the internet?

It's entirely possible; almost anything can cause chemical addiction. While the Internet isn't actually inserting chemicals into the blood stream, it can have affects that will change chemical levels. Some examples:
  • Regularly staying up late
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviour, especially from things with intermittent rewards (refreshing Slashdot actually causes the same kind of addiction as gambling).
  • Anything at all that makes you happy, sad, angry (reading trolls on Slashdot) or invoking some other emotion
  • Poor eating patterns
  • ...
Any of these can increase different hormones/chemicals in the blood stream, or reduce them (which usually induces an increase in something else), and can cause eventual chemical addiction.

If not, then how is this different than, say, pen and paper D&D?

Note many of the things listed above apply to other things as well, but the Internet provides a level of access to these things that is very hard to get elsewhere for sustained peroids of time. You can't play pen and paper D&D while you're at work, or at 1am after your friends have left - but you can go online and find any one of millions of things to do or read. People who are addicted to the internet can spend 16 hours a day online and that is something that can't be done with other addictions so easily.

Re:Addicted? (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158843)

Personally, I think it should be called the "Fun Things Are More Fun Than Boring Things Disorder" (FTAMFTBTD).

Having said that, sometimes it's difficult for people to control their behavior, and it hurts their long-term interests. Lots of people need somebody or something else to keep them on track. My thinking is that there would be a decent market for a service where someone comes in and installs a monitoring program. The installer would ask them which applications and websites they find most "addictive", and set the monitoring program to control overall time spent on the computer, time spent on games, time spent surfing the web, time spent surfing specific sites, etc. An emergency override could force the computer to work again, but it would be a loan against future usage (and it would send a polite e-mail to your spouse).

No, It's not draconian if it's voluntary.

Other people might simply need to recognize how much time they actually spend on these activities. The same program might run in a less intrusive mode, where it just keeps track of activities, and occasionally confronts the user about them. "Clippy: You've spent four hours instant messaging today. Does that seem a bit excessive to you?"

Anyhow, those are my thoughts. We are all a bit dumber for having read them.

I can't be addicted... (2, Funny)

AntEater (16627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158506)

because I could stop anytime.

Re:I can't be addicted... (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158695)

Prove it. I've quit several times, so I have proof that I could stop.

Re:I can't be addicted... (1)

Jupix (916634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158912)

Why would anyone want to stop using the internet just for the sake of proving he's capable of it?

I can totally understand grandparent's attitude towards internet addiction. I, for one, use it nearly 8 hours a day and I don't consider myself addicted - I could stop anytime, if it suited my interests. Right now, I'm getting my money and my knowledge off the internet, so basically, when someone tells me I should quit using the net, what they're really saying is I should throw away my life as I know it. It's just not something you do for the sake of it.

If I could see some point in taking a leave from the net, I would do it. No one's given me that motivator, yet.

Re:I can't be addicted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158916)

mod parent up!! funny!!! the first step of addiction is denial.. usualy the replies go along the terms: i can quit whenever i want..

These are different activites (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158515)

...spend hours online each day, surfing the Web, trading stocks, instant messaging or blogging...

How can you lump every activity that can be done online and somehow classify it as an addiction?

If I trade stocks over the phone, talk on the phone, and orde rpizza on the phone, does that mean I am addicted to the phone? How is it any different?

I think someone is just trying to drum up some business.

Re:These are different activites (1)

Jotii (932365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158658)

Would our newspapers obfuscate the truth in order to sell more? No.. not ours!

Re:These are different activites (4, Insightful)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158922)

You've nailed it.

We've always had information junkies. Before they went online in huge numbers, they would be subscribed to every magazine about their favorite subjects, own lots of books, maybe have a stock ticker and a hotline to their investment manager, if that was their thing.

We've always had social junkies. Before they went online in huge numbers, they would spend hours a day on the phone, or hanging out with friends.

We've always had porn junkies. We've always had diary junkies. We've always had shopping junkies.

These days, just about every facet of life can be performed online. I think the "Internet addiction" thing is something of an artifact. To those who don't understand the Internet, it masks a wide variety of behaviors whose only commonality is the fact that the same tool is used to accomplish each of them.

Too much information (1)

MacFury (659201) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158516)

With almost everything else in life, there is a more clear set beginning and end. If you are addicted to food, you reach a stopping point when your plate is licked clean. The internet keeps going. I, myself, find it very hard not to keep reading interesting information. There is simply so much data out there.

Having said that, I can't understand how someone could play a stupid flash game for hours on end. Many of the people I know who do such things claim it's neither very fun or rewarding...so why do it?

Hmm (4, Insightful)

daeley (126313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158522)

Translation: many more people are online nowadays, a goodly percentage of whom have addictive personalities.

Or... (1)

Chris Bradshaw (933608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158530)

"a majority of obsessive users are online to further addictions to gambling or pornography or have become much more dependent on those vices because of their prevalence on the Internet"

^or slashdot...

I already read this...on the Web! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158535)

Dude, I like totally read this hours ago on the Web, and then when it got posted to /. I totally read it again in between my gambling and porn viewing. What's that? Sorry, my baby crying interrupted me, but I know if I ignore him he settles down. Oh yeah, this is a great use of the Web to learn about addictions and stuff. Oh wait, I gotta double down...-- wow, check out that babe!

Seems to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158538)

That TV addiction would be a lot more prevalent...

That is, if we define "addiction" as "Something I don't enjoy, but other people do"

gf hooked for sure (2, Interesting)

objwiz (166131) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158547)

Well exgf

She is hooked on Second life [secondlife.com] . She has her own business so she only needs to work 1 or 2 days out of the week. The rest of the time is playing the game. I dont mean a few hours a day. Its all day long, all night long, to the point of exhaustion and falling asleep at the keyboard. When I talked with her, on the phone, in game, chat whever, everything was about second life. There was no first life for her.

She would change her work schedule to fit around it. Quit working some days to "get things done" in second life. Her interactions with her children (late teens) is only in game. The list goes on actually.

So it can be real imo.

Re:gf hooked for sure (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158588)

What kind of business does she run? I'm serious. I know several business owners and thay all work their asses off.

Honestly... (1)

xMonkey (154829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158555)

.. who cares?

Don't get me wrong. I understand the point. I myself have played video games for 36 hours striaght, or skipped work to play a game, ingored, and lost girlfriends, or over slept becuase I was on a message board all night. I myself have about 40 gigs of pr0n, and I spend about 8 hours a day on the internet outside of work.

But calling it an addiction is like saying people are addicted to food, or addicted to watching T.V., or Addicted to reading books.

I also go stretches of days and weeks where I spend 10 or 12 hours a day working on a single math problem. I don't talk, I don't Sleep, I don't Eat. Am I addicted to Math???

Just becuase you do something constantly and it tends to outwiegh all other concerns doesn't make it an addiction.

Funny thing is, the behavior has all the markings of what we consider 'Addiction.' But I AM addicted to tobacco, and I have never once ignored a girlfirend to go smoke.

Re:Honestly... (1)

Jotii (932365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158703)

"But calling it an addiction is like saying people are addicted to food" If you're physically dependant on the web to survive, I'd say you're addicted.

Here's a radical idea! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158563)

Let's stop considering gambling or porn as vices (defined as a defect or failing) and leave people to their own moralities.

Re:Here's a radical idea! (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158600)

You can be addicted to something even if it is not a vice.

I'm addicted to oxygen (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158582)

I can't live without it. I've tried quitting, God knows, but I always gotta have more. I can't even pretend anymore that I don't inhale...

I think I'm addicted to vitamin C too. Ummm...exactly what is an addiction? Anything that I need to feel better?

Is Internet Obsession a Bad Thing? (1)

Stardo (465325) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158597)

I don't get it. How is this any different from sitting in front of a television or reading a book? If anything the internet is superior to these forms of media because it allows for almost limitless applications.

And is obsession something to worry about? Chatting online with my friends who are thousands of miles away because we all just graduated from college and live all over the world... interacting with people I don't know in an online video game, sometimes collaborating and solving problems together... looking up bits of trivia on wikipedia... discussing issues that are important to me on Slashdot, how are these activities any different (or better) than their real life counterparts?

If anything, the internet has increased the amount of activities I can do by eliminating physical restrictions on those activities.

It doesn't negatively impact my work life (if anything it makes it better since I can work from home a few days out of the week and find information I need to complete my job easier) and it doesn't negatively impact my family or social life (I maintain contact with my friends and family over IM and e-mail), so what is so wrong with the internet that spending a lot of time on it becomes an obsession?

constructive and nonconstructive (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158602)

pornography and gambling is one thing, instant messaging and blogging is another. one enriches your life, one destroys it. i mean, as long as you are relating to your fellow human beings socially, i don't think you can call it addiction. you can go to a pub or a dry academic conference and talk to your fellow human beings: is this addiction?

the only difference is the forum

so we need to focus on the behaviors on the internet, not the internet itself. i do not think a nonstop blogger is in the same league as a nonstop gambler. i think that the internet is still "new and different" so people are still talking about it like social activists talked about the "new phenomenon" of pool halls in the early 20th century: a dangerous and degenerate influence on young folks to drink and have sex

yes, pool halls were thought of as a grave social influence at one time. of course today, we know it's just a place to play pool. that a pool hall makes you have risky sex or take illicit drugs is just a silly idea. but when something is new, people have trouble separating the old-as-cave paintings-and-rock-carvings basic human vices, from just another new forum to engage in that

focus on the BEHAVIOR not the FORUM

one is as old as time and happens independently of any forum

the other has positive and negative behavior potential

Re:constructive and nonconstructive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158728)

pornography and gambling is one thing, instant messaging and blogging is another. one enriches your life, one destroys it.

Which is which?

Re:constructive and nonconstructive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158893)

" pornography and gambling is one thing, instant messaging and blogging is another. one enriches your life, one destroys it."

And which one is which, again?

who cares (1)

mudbogger (668451) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158605)

I think if you could become addicted to simply surfing the web, the chances are you have much more serious pyschological problems than the just the addiction itself. This could not be said for other conditions such as alcoholism.

Users (2, Funny)

Jotii (932365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158625)

Ever wondered why both drug addicts and internet geeks are called "users"?

Not the Addiction thing again (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158641)

And "as destructive as alcoholism and drug addiction," too! Not only that, "they are rushing to treat it" and with what? The Twelve step program and demeaning names like CrackBerry for your devices! Oh, the wonders of modern diagnosis. When the ecnomics of choice leads a person to favor a particular fulfillment of a want or need due to its ease of accessability or extreme level of fullfilment. And the culprit behind it all? Interaction! Yes, the sweet nectar of interaction between other people or people substitues is to blame. When socitey learns that trying to get the fat 30 year old bum out of his parents basement is not to try and treat an 'addiction' as basic as this but to integrating the interaction and its medium to permiate through the whole of itself, drop me an email.

A self-fullfilling prophecy (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158648)

Internet is an addiction, but help is on the way....please click here http://www.netaddiction.com/ [netaddiction.com] to read about how you can stop your incessant clicking.

Re:A self-fullfilling prophecy (1)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158923)

I love that they sell counseling for Internet Addiction via chat room. That makes about as much sense as having your AA meeting at a bar.

I wonder how much I could charge to connect people's chat clients to an Eliza bot?

Productivity (1)

Daedala (819156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158656)

Honestly, I think they're mostly just worried about work productivity.

My work blocks a lot of things. Not slashdot, obviously.... But it does block access to my home email, as well as the one site I use all the time. Because I am not able to access the pure crack of my additiction, I waste far more time just keeping my endorphin levels up with inferior distractions. If they just let me do what I wanted, I would be able to keep them up with much less time wasted!
 

Obviously (2, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158660)

Mental Health Workers are clearly addicted to making major announcements about the deleterious effects of whatever the current fad is. Rewind to 1977: "Interstate Truckers Addicted to CB Radio pose hazard for health, family, and traffic safety".

News/Internet/RP Junkies (2, Insightful)

BobBobBobBobBob (861762) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158665)

How many of us as news junkies? People who like to know what's going on in the world, all over the world, all the time? Have you ever stayed up all night watching CNN, or even your local news on election night? Is this a disorder? No, unless it interferes with your life. If your wife/kids/dog have left you because you can't turn off the television or the internet, then you have a problem and need help.

How many of us have been addicted (yes, and we've used that word) to the beautiful, different world in a MUD or other online multiplayer game? You say you just like to play and/or to interact with the community, but when you shut out your loved ones to play a game or to chat online, it's a problem.

Yes, as the article mentioned, people with internet addictions usually have addictive personalities (and so have other addictions like gambling or sex or food) and/or have other mental problems (depression, anxiety, etc).

If you're the loved one of such a person, realize that they can't help themselves. Don't be overbearing or guilting, just try to get that person help, and to convince that person to consent to help. You may only notic the internet addiction, but there's likely far more to it. If that person felt well enough to get help, then s/he would have already. Help your loved one.

Any time... (1)

Phae (920315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158669)

I can stop any time I want... starting after the next article on Slashdot... I swear.

Ek the internet is evil. or is it just accruate? (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158672)

Anyone concidered that people have always been addicted to this stuff (blogging is just online voicing of opinions which is pretty much the same as people adicited to writing into magizines (hell i was addicted to writing into a page which displayed on teletext at one point)), its just now that its all digital and online, its far far eaiser to gauge numbers than ever before.

Just pretty much like however they survey anything, and then get a "real" number from somewhere else, the "real" number of people effected by something is always far higher than any survey has ever said. This is party due to facts like people like to questionaires and other forms of monitoring dont always catch people who are out of the system (1.5million homeless in london anyone;?).

Just a wild thought....

Make it a Crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158682)

They should illegalize surfing more than 3 hours a day. Three strikes and you're out! That be a nice profit boom for our economy due our corporate prisons systems. And every computer should have an activity monitor, so Uncle Sam can keep us safe and they could get those pornoholics too!

---
The year is 1984.

The World in a Computer (4, Insightful)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158697)

But, they say, the Internet's omnipresent offer of escape from reality, affordability, accessibility and opportunity for anonymity can also lure otherwise healthy people into an addiction.

It's not that the Internet is becoming an escape from reality.

It's that the Internet is becoming reality.

Look around a house: There's a thing called a bookshelf. That's where all the books go. When you want to go read a book, you go to a physical space, that's entirely so that you can read.

In another corner, there's where the telephone is hooked to the wall. That's where you go to talk with people.

When you want to play games, you pull out the board game, or the Nintendo, or something.

"Oh, I feel like drawing." You pull out the pens, pencils, paper. Those too, are in a special location in the house.

For everything that you want to do, there's a place in the house.

But now, pretty much everything but the bathroom and the kitchen fits nicely, (and much more affordably,) within the computer.

So, if you hear about "Internet Addiction," just think to yourself: "World Addiction."

Does somebody have an "online gambling problem?" Just call it for what it is: a gambling problem.

Does somebody look at porn so much, that they can't get themselves to go to work? Call it a porn problem.

For whatever problem you have, and then attach the word "online" to it, just strip off that "online" word, and attack the problem.

Let's see... (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158701)

I use my computer for online banking.

I read/send email to friends, family, and colleagues.

I buy items online.

My job includes web development, so I am constantly looking up information and building web pages and CGIs.

I find activities and events in my area using local search services.

I catch up on all my sports via sports websites.

Well, that's it... I'm an addict!

How do they control for the fact that more and more people are getting Internet access every day and those that have it are using it in more new and varied ways? Do they even really know how much time a person spends in "addictive" web use? Sure, if a guy is spending 16 hours a day downloading pr0n, then perhaps he has a problem. Same with the dude spending 45 hours straight playing World of Warcraft.

Addicition though is a heavy-handed designation. It means you're sick somehow. And frankly I see the Internet as a facilitator of current addicitions, not as an addiction in itself. If you're a gambler with a computer, you'll probably gravitate toward online casions, if you like titty bars then you'll probably like pr0n sites, etc.

As usual, people are ready to jump to conclusions without careful study. One study does not make a case. A lot more research needs to be done before anyone can make such an all-encompassing claim.

In related news... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158716)

scholars are being treated for their addiction to books. News at 11.

Dot Addict (1)

POWuhuru (895095) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158729)

Sometime ago, I would start the day with 30 Min of TV news. In the evening 30 more minutes of propaganda and throw in 2 hours of primetime TV entertainment...now I surf

Hooked on life (1)

iothal (647649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158743)

yep, that's me. Even though I know that the addiction is sure to end so I'm not too worried about it. Really.

internet "addiction"? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158748)

And the Religious Right's quest to eliminate everything enjoyable in life continues on. If these evil fucks get their way, everything from baseball to ice cream will be prohibited and punishable by death.

Better than mobile phone addiction (4, Insightful)

scrotch (605605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158757)

At least internet addicts are usually at home and quiet. Mobile phone junkies are Everywhere! Yapping and yapping and driving cars through red lights and onto sidewalks. They have the same distracted, glassy eyed look as heroin addicts and are just as difficult to communicate with. They're constantly babbling crap that has nothing to do with the conversation you're trying to have with them.

That's a dangerous and often overlooked "addiction" that is causing real harm to other productive non-addicted members of society.

In other news (3, Insightful)

max born (739948) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158767)

sed s/Internet/Television/g

I would agree with this (2, Interesting)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158772)

I recently wrote a paper on the addictions to pornography, my thesis proposing that the availability of pornography on the Internet has amplified the harm typically caused by viewing porn (desentiziations, misrepresentations of sexuality, corrosion of relationships, etc.). Online porn is so widely available (it takes all of five seconds to start looking at it), and the sense of privacy that comes along with it is a selling point. Since porn is so readily available, I read that addiction to pornography may be considered harder to break than an addiction to heroin (reference [family.org] ). This is pretty crazy.

Things have changed since you had to walk into a public store and purchase a mag, and not for the better. Internet porn is really an epidemic on a more quiet level, I believe. I like what J.G. Ballard had to say about pornography: "a widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction."

i'm not addicted (proof) (1)

ilf (193006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158778)

i'm only online once a day

Internetaholics Anon (1)

Chayak (925733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158787)

Hi, my name is Chayak... and I'm an internet addict... but I'm not... really... FINE I AM ARE YOU HAPPY NOW! *sob* lol

How is this different from TV? (1)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158793)

If someone spends 4 hours a day watching TV, are they 'addicted to TV'? And is a huge problem that must be cured (tm)?

Psychology is just so much crap (0)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158808)

These people are looking to pathologise every possible human act, and then find a way to either train you out of it (and bill you out of your retirement), or medicate it (giving your money to giant pharmaceutical corporations).

One could make the same charge against the internet as one might charge the very act of reading. Do you READ EVERY DAY? Do you READ Erotic Stories? Do you READ and WRITE letters to friends and relatives? Do you play video games? Do you READ and act on Advertisements that suggest you piss away a year's wages in Las Vegas? WELL THEN! We can't HAVE THAT! WE MUST BAN READING! Train people to STOP READING, and if they can't medicate them out of the habit. A couple doses of Thorazine mixed with Xanax will probably do the trick!

This whole notion is such utter crap. My work *depends* on the internet - it's how I sell my work and how I (mostly) communicate with others. Why? Because they live all over the freakin' planet, and to call them on the phone would cost a small fortune, and to go visit is out of the question.

(arrives in Sydney Australia)
RS: Hi Tom! I'm just wondering, but are you going to be finishing your next DVD this month? If so, I sure would like a copy!
Tom E: Sorry, mate, it won't be finished till February, earliest. Maybe March.
RS: Oh, thanks - gotta go - next plane across the planet leaves in an hour. bye!

There is no such thing as an obsession, unless you view it as such, or said behaviour adversely impacts the lives of others. Example: If you spend every minute online, and all you do is game and DL pr0n and check /. every minute, AND YOU FIND IT IS GETTING IN THE WAY OF THINGS YOU WANT TO DO - then sure: you have a problem. But: imagine if you got paid to do that, or something very like it: suddenly the bahaviour isn't OCD? why is it when money comes into the picture, the diagnosis goes away?

People do all kinds of crazy shit all the time, and I think that's just fine. It adds colour to my life. If someone wants to plop themselves infront of a computer all day and night - and they see no problem with that, then FINE - I don't care. I think they're some kind of a fucking WHACKJOB - but as I said - the world is full of freaks. It's only when these people behaving in a specific way *no longer find it useful* and feel compelled to do it against their will, OR, what they are doing is harming someone else without their consent, THEN I get all itchy.

These "psychologists" are the same bunch of lame boneheads who write scripts for ADHD at the least sign of impatience or Social Anxiety Disorder because of simple shyness or apprehension. Fuck them and fuck Phizer / Glaxo / etc. for wasting money pathlogising the human personality.

RS

This just in! (1)

egarland (120202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158821)

Huge rise in people addicted to communicating! People spend hours talking on telephones, meeting in meetings, spending time one on one. The spread of diseases caused by people touching and being close to each other kills tens of millions every.....

Give me a friggen break. I'm adicted to breathing, eating, walking, sleeping, and yes... communicating with other people. Everyone is. Everyone always will be. It's part of being human. These people need to go do something productive with their lives.

Does anyone else find this hypocritical?? (1)

steppin_razor_LA (236684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158842)

Watching x hours of passively watching television while your brain slowly rots = "okay"

Interactively using the Internet = "addiction"

?

What IS an addiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158847)

My question is, how do they define addiction? More importantly, if that definition is applied to 'normal' tasks like working, playing baseball, jogging, or what have you, what mundane tasks would you be 'addicted' to.

I for one am addicted to eating. I do it at least two times per day. Three times if I can.

Addicted, and then? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158850)

As someone said a while ago on another article, it's not because you're addicted to something that it's necessarly bad.

Take sex, we're all more or less addicted to sex, is it ruining or lives? As long as internet doesn't ruin your life, you can be addicted, it's all good.

In other news... (2, Funny)

tooba (710518) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158860)

mental health professionals found to have no shortage of work due to loose definition of "addiction."

I'm addicted ... (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158875)

... but not to porn or games.

I can't get enough news, of the conventional or computer industry kind.

I swear that if there weren't coworkers to scare me, I'd read the various sites repeatedly all day long. And then go home and if there wasn't a girlfriend there who demands attention I'd browse them until late at night.

It is the comments that gets me, I know I don't have to read everybody else's misinformed incorrect blather (unless their viewpoint agrees with mine), but I do. Can I just read an article? No, I've got to do the comments, and then comment myself, and then get into an online argument about something pointless.... hours later I feel bad because it was a waste of time.

Still, less harmful than some previous addictions I suppose...

How about this? (1)

joemawlma (897746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158913)

What I do with my time at work doesn't matter as long as I get my responsibilities done. What I do in the privacy of my own home is nobodys business but my own, and it is completely pointless and juvenile to point the finger at ANYONE with ANY kind of addiction if they are not directly harming another person. Being an "addict" of anything should never be looked at as negative as long as it makes you happy, doesn't hurt others, and you can still maintain the responsibility of accomplishing your duties in life. Negatively judging gets everybody nowhere. If addiction is a problem, one should get help ON THEIR OWN. If addiction is not a problem, one should be left alone. We all learn through life's experiences.
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