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The Internet Science

Hooked On The Web 298

Posted by Zonk
from the they-just-described-my-job-description dept.
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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Hooked On The Web

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  • Is it just me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @01:44PM (#14158438) Homepage Journal
    ...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.
    • by mordors9 (665662)
      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.
      • 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.
        • 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 spen
          • Re:Is it just me... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by CFTM (513264)
            I have an addicitive personality; I've been addicted to the internet; I've been addicted to alcohol. You may think that the consequences are different but they are not. You may not get a DUI/DWI or kill someone [other than yourself] while on the internet but it has the ability to consume a person and when that happens the social connections that are severed come with the same consequences as those severed by people who drink to excess.

            On slashdot we resort to calling psychology a "pseudo-science" because
            • by IAmTheDave (746256)
              I didn't mean to call psychology a pseudo-science - what I meant to say was that it seems some psychologist (especially school psychologists, IMHO) seem quick to come up with new "diseases" and classify just about everyone.

              As for saying the consequences were different, I didn't compare their severity, just that liver disease is a consequence that is probably harder to relate to an internet addiction than alcoholism.

              Anyway, thanks for your post... severe addiction is not something I can empathize with
            • You may think that the consequences are different but they are not

              It seems to me that you contradicted this statement yourself. The social consequences are the same or similar (loosing contact with real people) but you mentioned yourself the potential of DUIs and even killing people. Maybe from your perspective there's no difference in consequence, but I'd MUCH rather have someone at home addicted to online poker or whatever than out careening through the streets with a couple thousand pounds of steel. T
      • by flyingsquid (813711) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @02:17PM (#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.

      • by flyinwhitey (928430)
        "Every failing that a person has is now some addiction or other problem that is beyond their control."

        No, that's just your over simplified misunderstanding of the subject.

        The idea here, and in most therapy related to the subject, is that certain biological functions change in such a way that aberrant behavior become more difficult to notice and treat.

        You won't find a single therapist worth a damn who says what you claim is being said.

         
      • by mrtrumbe (412155)
        How the hell does a shitty comment like this get modded insightful!?!?

        Every failing that a person has is now some addiction or other problem that is beyond their control.

        First, not every failing a person has is considered an addiction. An addiction is specificly defined as "uncontrolled, compulsive behavior despite harm." Second, no ethical psychologist or psychiatrist would ever say that an addiction is something beyond a person's control. The whole point of psychology is to treat mental health probl

        • by dosquatch (924618) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @04:19PM (#14160180) Journal
          If you were looking for someone to blame

          And therein lies the problem of which he was speaking, I believe. That search for someone or something to blame. That crutch on which you can dump your personal responsibility.

          I'm not getting good grades - but it's because I have ADHD. Or dyslexia. Or my teacher hates me. Or they're not really teaching me anymore, they're just drilling me for the SOL test. It can't be that I'm not trying hard enough.

          The hurricane killed half my family and washed my house away. It's the weatherman's fault for not warning me soon enough. It's the mayor's fault for not coming to pick me up. It's FEMA's fault for not getting here soon enough with food and shelter. Not mine, though, for living in hurricane territory without adequate insurance and for ignoring the evacuation orders.

          I'm not as rich as I want to be. I'm not successful. I'm not beautiful. I don't have the latest snazzy toy that I want. It's all because the system is set up to work against me! I lost my job because of the "good old boy" network, or affirmative action quotas, or offshoring, or corporate merger downsizing. I have an unhealthy self-image because of the unrealistic images of beauty in the magazines. I have heart disease because of Phillip-Morris and McDonalds. Dammit, I need somebody to sue.

          Now the courts are clogged. It's because of the lawyers.

          Everybody's a victim. The problem is, if everybody is a victim laying the blame somewhere else, then nobody is accountable anymore. It's not my fault because of you, but it's not your fault either because of him, and the buck never stops.

          Don't get me wrong. There are victims. There are hardships. There are obstacles. Life sucks hard sometimes. It always has, it always will, but we seem to have forgotten how to suck it up and move on.

          Monet was blind. Beethoven was deaf. Helen Keller was both. What's your excuse?

          And if you don't like what I have to say, don't blame me. "They" made me do it.

      • It is all part of the victimization of Humans.

        Well, if you don't know you are a victim, then how are you going to not be one.

        Secondly, if you discount psychology then you yourself may fall victim to "creative use" of psychological methods of other humans. You know... Like advertising, brainwashing, fundementalism, extremism, politics, zealotry, and various other forms of persuasion inflicted on the human mind.

        (What is really the "kick in the head" is that if you disagree with me, then you had no choice but
      • Distrust of and disgust with psychiatry and those who practice it is considered a treatable addiction--nay, epidemic that is sweeping our civilization. If you or a loved one suffers from this life-wrecking ailment, seek professional help immediately.

    • 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... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Azi Dahaka (625546) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @02:40PM (#14159086)
        I think this is the one you mean:
        Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

      • So people who never read books (or their online equivalent) are all geniuses? Reading provides the "shoulders of giants" part on which all innovation today stands. If you don't read you just go off reinventing the wheel over and over and never build anything remotely useful (as you don't know all those things already invented).
      • "Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking."

        He's not saying don't read, or stop reading once you hit a specific age. But I have met people who read constantly and yet don't seem to have a thought in their head, who don't even have the organizational skills to retain or make sense of what they're reading. To get anything out of a book, you have to roll it around in your mi
    • The thing is, we are addicted to lots of things. I'm addicted to sleeping, eating, and drinking water, to name a few. Where it becomes a mental health concern is where the need to do something begins to interfere with one's ability to live life. Society has accomodated the basic addictions of life, with much of our social life revolving around fulfilling those basic addictions.

      But look at alcoholism as an example. This addiction can lead to people losing jobs, families, and lives. It's when it starts c
      • If you're "addicted" but are getting along well with your family, getting your work done at the office, etc, then does it really matter?

        Well, it actually means that you aren't truly addicted, at least according to the accepted psychological definition of addiction. From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "Addiction is now narrowly defined as 'uncontrolled, compulsive use despite harm'; if there is no harm being suffered by, or damage done to, the patient or another party, then clinically it may be considered compulsive, but wit

    • 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

      That's like saying that the people who are hooked on speed but justify it because it lets them be a better housekeeper or study longer hours or whatever aren't actually addicted because it has a positive benefit. Or the people who're hooked on anti-depressants but who justify it with their better moods and positive outlook aren't actually addicted either. It sounds like you're in deni
    • "I don't look at it as an addiction really. There are those of who have an honest drive for a stiff drink to unwind after work. My life, my job and my hobbies revovle around drinking I always think about "it". How does it work, where does it come from, why is it better, who else likes it?"

      So I just replaced a few words, how does that sound? Absurd? Well I've heard drunks say very similar things. I'm not saying an addict, I'm not saying you have a problem; I'm saying that your pattern of behavior and
      • So I just replaced a few words, how does that sound? Absurd? Well I've heard drunks say very similar things. I'm not saying an addict, I'm not saying you have a problem; I'm saying that your pattern of behavior and rationalization is consistent with that of someone with an addiction. Two completely different things but don't blow it off so quickly just because you may not like the implications.

        The problem with this line of thinking is that it implies symptoms work in reverse. While it may be correct to s

    • 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?

      Well, by the articles definition, I am also addicted to air and water.
    • I don't look at it as an addiction, really.

      This from someone with the first post on a slashdot story. :-)

      You know, denial is the first sign of addiction. The first step to healing is admitting you have a problem.

      FWIW, when they form Slashdotter's Anonymous [wikipedia.org], I'll be there, too. "Hi, my handle is AnObfuscator, and I refresh Slashdot every 5 minutes."

  • Obsession (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pretendstocare (816218) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @01:44PM (#14158440) Homepage
    Yeah but at least obsessive internet users get the frist psot!!!!!!!
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @01:44PM (#14158441)
    But the comments don't come fast enough. Gotta . . . get . . . my . . . fix.
  • 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 ad
    • 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 thing
    • 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
    • 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. :)
    • by flyinwhitey (928430) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @04:01PM (#14159965)
      "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."

      This is completely wrong.

      The current models indicate that the reward pathway is indeed modified in people who are dependent, but that is not because of a particular substance.

      Simply stated, the BEHAVIOR causes the brain to rewire itself in such a way that certain reward pathways are strengthened, while others atrophy. When engaging in certain behaviors, the brain issues rewards, leading to more of that behavior.

      The specific substance/activity is irrelevant. The rewiring takes place in the same manner, regardless of substance or activity.

      Now it is also possible to become physically dependent, as in the case of heroin where withdrawal has very real physical effects, but that is particular to each substance. There are also drugs, such as cocaine and MDMA that cause physical damage in the brain, but that type of damage can't be reliably tied to specific behaviors.

      In short, the changes in the reward pathways are the same regardless of what a person is dependent on.

      So, in most cases you're not actually dependent on a behavior (like sex) or a chemical (like coke) but on your own brain's rewards.

      "I really wish these people had taken the time to realize this before putting out a sensationalist piece of work."

      I wish you'd taken the time to educate yourself so that you don't spread disinformation. Seriously, if you plan to talk about things like this, take them seriously enough to know what you're talking about.

      PS, my information is current as of 6 months ago. If there is new information that you think I might be interested in, please post it.

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

  • 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?
    • 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.
      • I knew compulsive exercisers in high school. I hung out with some of them, and occasionally played sports with them. I always had to force myself to exercise, but they never did. Some people get so much into weight training or running or skiing or something they're compelled to do it.

        But trust me, it's better to be us than them. Perhaps moreso than the internet, this addiction can hurt your health, long term. I know a girl who used be very athletic but has a bum knee now. There's another guy, a wrestler, w
    • 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
        • 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
        Oh Gods, I do all of those things!
    • 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 "addictiv
    • I remember reading a couple months ago as part of my daily info-fix that people *do* get physically addicted to exercise, largely due to the endorphins that are released. In that sense, exercise is a physical, biochemical addiction, while "internet addiction" is likely a behavioral one.

      I was the same as one poster above -- reading encyclopedias and dictionaries, reading ahead in the science books, enjoying esoteric conversations that probably 85% of the population couldn't even participate in. It's not "add
  • because I could stop anytime.
  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@nOsPAm.keirstead.org> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @01:51PM (#14158515) Homepage

    ...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.

    • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @02:26PM (#14158922) Homepage
      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.
    • 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?


      Do you order so much pizza over the phone that it endangers your health? Do you talk so much on the phone that you lose you job or girlfriend etc? If so then yes, you are addicted to the phone, there is no difference.
  • 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

  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daeley (126313) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @01:51PM (#14158522) Homepage
    Translation: many more people are online nowadays, a goodly percentage of whom have addictive personalities.
    • Translation: many more people are online nowadays, a goodly percentage of whom have addictive personalities.

      That's perfect. I find it interesting how often people confuse addictive or deviant behavior with the mechanism through which that behavior is expressed.

      Here's an example: When I was in my early teens, it was pencil and paper role playing games (actually they only targeted D&D, because they didn't really realize there were other games out there, but I digress). These games led to Satan-worshi

  • gf hooked for sure (Score:2, Interesting)

    by objwiz (166131)
    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
    • What kind of business does she run? I'm serious. I know several business owners and thay all work their asses off.
    • That's positively tragic. I hope things get better for her.

      As technology advances, artificial realities are only going to get more intricate and more immersive. Stories like hers will only become more common.

      If only real life were more rewarding.

      In an earlier post [slashdot.org], I was speculating about building a system that could limit a user's computer usage. It seems like this would be a thousand times easier for an MMORPG to implement. If I was running one, I'd put a hard limit of 8 hours a day and 40 hours a wee
    • My ex-bf was the same way (one of the reasons he's my ex) -- though he had an "addictive" personality in general. Instead of getting a handle on the major psych issues he had that caused him to escape reality any way he could, he just leapt into one addiction after another, including (at points) drugs and alcohol.

      I finally left him in the middle of his internet-gaming addiction, after I realized that until he did treat/control the underlying issues, no matter how many addictions he broke, there would alway
  • Let's stop considering gambling or porn as vices (defined as a defect or failing) and leave people to their own moralities.
    • Okay.

      But regardless of the pursuit, it should be considered a vice to pursue it excessively, to the detriment of your well-being or that of those around you.

      You like looking at naked women. No problem. You like looking at them for eight to twelve hours a day, and spend your rent money on X-rated DVDs? Big problem. Same goes for gambling. As long as the time and money you put into it are amounts you can afford to lose, do as you like.

      Most things are harmless in moderation. Some things are harmful becau
      • it should be considered a vice to pursue it excessively

        Oh, I'm with you there.

        I just get particularly tired of the gambling as vice thing. I like to gamble- mainly the horses and football with some Vegas trips, although I'm favoring the local Indian jopints more as Vegas becomes too full of itself (the Vegas hotels will start to charge for air... you heard it here first). I do well at it, which means I can pay for my Netflix account from the winnings. :) I have known a lot of other gamblers. The really

  • 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
    • I agree with you that you shouldn't blanket all addictions to "things that are online" as an online addiction, but at the same time I can readily accept the concept that people can be addicted to socialization. There are tons of people who are very socially needy, who feel like they need to talk to people or they feel "lonely." To me, this really seems to resemble addiction. People get a high out of social interaction, and when they can't get this high, they feel withdrawal.

      Of course, calling this an addict
  • Users (Score:2, Funny)

    by Jotii (932365)
    Ever wondered why both drug addicts and internet geeks are called "users"?
  • 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.
    • 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?
    • I wonder how much I could charge to connect people's chat clients to an Eliza bot?
      ----

      The answer is: as much as you want, addicts will pay any price for their fix. Just make sure the bot redirects them to other pages that will generate you more revenue.
  • 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 (Score:2, Funny)

    by ch-chuck (9622)
    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".
  • 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

  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @02:06PM (#14158697) Homepage
    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.
    • "For whatever problem you have, and then attach the word "online" to it, just strip off that "online" word, and attack the problem."

      You are right, for the most part, except that one way of attacking an addiction is to prevent access to whatever you're addicted to. The internet is an enabler of the behaviors that some people are addicted to, and they have a hard time quitting when they are constantly 'offered' access to that behavior.

      So, if the internet is the primary source of access for an addict, th
    • It's that the Internet is becoming reality.

      Well said; poetic, even. Cheers.

    • by Stalyn (662)
      It's that the Internet is becoming reality.

      I'm sorry friend but the Internet has not superseded reality as of yet. It is nothing but text and images detached from the reality behind it. You leave your house, you have flowers, earth, sun, the wind and a whole plethora of sensations that the Internet can only mimick.

      Then there is the world of human interaction, the touch of another's hand, a loved ones voice, their breath on your neck, their heartbeat against yours. Even just being amongst friends, the act of
  • Let's see... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NOsPAm.optonline.net> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @02:06PM (#14158701) Journal

    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.

  • scholars are being treated for their addiction to books. News at 11.
  • by scrotch (605605) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @02:11PM (#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.
    • Which reminds me of one of my pet peeves: someone talking on their phone in the bathroom.

      It used to be that when you walked into the bathroom and there was someone muttering to themselves in the stall, that was a sign of mental illness. Now it's just bad manners. And, really, who wants to talk to someone while they're taking a shit? This happens all of the time in the bathroom at my office building. If that isn't a sign of phone addiction, I don't know what is...
  • In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by max born (739948) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @02:12PM (#14158767)
    sed s/Internet/Television/g
  • by AutopsyReport (856852) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @02:12PM (#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."

    • by Hannah E. Davis (870669) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @02:55PM (#14159239) Journal
      Porn may be addictive, but this is most likely at least in part because (most) humans are predisposed to want sex. Before taking heroin or some other drug, we are VERY unlikely to have any physical or psychological need for it, but this isn't the case with sex -- I've wanted it on some level since I hit puberty at age 10, although I didn't seek either pornography or the real thing until I was an adult.

      Also, you mention the evils of pornography as "desensitizations, misrepresentations of sexuality, corrosion of relationships, etc.", but I would argue that there are some issues with this representations. Desensitizing myself to sex and nudity was one of the best things that ever happened to me. As an amateur artist, I occasionally draw nudes, and I have been much happier since I stopped feeling guilty for merely drawing little nippley dots on cartoon breasts or feeling dirty when I caught a glimpse of another woman changing in a swimming pool changeroom. Yes, I was indeed a prude in my youth, and online depictions of nudity, both sexual and nonsexual, helped me get over it.

      As for the misrepresentations of sexuality, that is very subjective: the "proper" representation of sexuality will depend on who you ask -- a conservative Christian might say that porn misrepresents sex as an act of carnal pleasure, not reproduction, a feminist might say that it misrepresents sex as a process of objectifying women, and there are so many other views on what sex and sexuality are or should be. Since the internet allows us to see so many conflicting views, for any piece of pornographic material, you can guarantee that somebody is going to view it as a "misrepresentation".

      I will not deny that porn can corrode relationships, but it isn't always because porn is innately a bad influence -- if there is a pre-existing communication problem in a relationship, one partner may well be aghast upon discovering that the other partner looks at porn on occasion, and that might be enough to end the relationship, but it isn't because porn is some horrible horrible thing. If porn is, however, a true addiction (ie. the person cannot help him/herself, and the porn viewing takes up an excessive amount of time), then it may indeed put stress on even a healthy relationship, and it should be viewed as similar to any other harmful addiction.

      Note that I'm not addicted to porn, nor am I even a particularly big fan of it, whether it's of the online or offline variety -- I'm just sick of being told over and over again that porn should offend me as a woman. As an artist, I'm sick of being told that a naked body is an awful, horrible thing, and that it gets even worse in certain poses. As a net geek, I'm sick of being told that the internet is enhancing "vices" purely because it allows a wider range of information than some people are comfortable with.
  • If someone spends 4 hours a day watching TV, are they 'addicted to TV'? And is a huge problem that must be cured (tm)?
  • 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.
  • Watching x hours of passively watching television while your brain slowly rots = "okay"

    Interactively using the Internet = "addiction"

    ?
  • by tooba (710518)
    mental health professionals found to have no shortage of work due to loose definition of "addiction."
  • The Internet is not an addiction for most of those 6-10% -- it is a means of living. Bill paying, shopping, gathering news, chatting with friends -- these are the things that people do on a daily basis anyway. Choosing to do them "online" is not much different from choosing to do them "in strip malls" or "downtown."

    No doubt some would argue that addictive behavior is behavior that people "can't stop" or that is carried out even when the subject doesn't want to carry it out. But many of the things that are d
  • I guess the corporate media are trying to stamp out curiosity. If someone pent all day in a library or in a public square talking to people they would be called "Intellectual" or "Gregarious".

    Quit surfing the web and consume, you drones!
  • Call it an addiction, then you can mitigate responsibility, create a marketplace for consultation, and apply for grant money to "research" it. In the 80's they did the same thing with the word "disease" calling Alcoholism a disease. The fact that SOMEone will reply to this and defend that practice is a testament to its crafty success.
  • Of course the NY Times looks at secondary issues like "escalating addictions" like Internet gambling when considering the "news" of Internet addiction. Why not focus on the underlying mental illness that is expressed in Internet addiction? Like antisocialization, alienation, abused childhood, and other preventable causes? Is it because the NY Times is so deeply embedded in a dysfunctional society that all its editors and reporters think it can do is complain about the further damage? Is it because the Times
  • I'm not addicted. I can quit anytime I want.

    But not right now. Let me finish this post. Ooh, and I've got messages - gotta check those! Must... not... metamoderate...

    Damn you, Slashdot! You are like crack!!!

    I'm leaving. Now. Really. I'm all done with this post.

    After this. All done. No more to this post. Logging off. Really this time.

    *sigh*
  • Wrong Question. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Irvu (248207) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:24PM (#14159608)
    To me much of the hype surrounding Internet addiction, as with tyhe more salacious "porn addiction" fails to ask the qone essential question; what should we do about it? Most of the people I have seen crusading against such 'new' addictions come armed with preexisting (and often horrible) 'solutions' ranging from banning such things altogether, to restricting all porn to some specified 'ports', etc.

    I remain skeptical about most of these stories. While I believe that there are some people who are obsessive-compulsive enough to be addicted to the internet, porn, gambling, etc, I doubt both the numbers being thrown around ("hudreds of thousands", "6-10%", "Millions") because most of them have been based upon bad science, or no science. In order to adequately grasp how widespread something is you have to sample randomly from the general population and see how many people are affected in a real way (I.E. according to some clinical, quantitative, and unabiguously-applied metric). Then you can start to talk about rates. All of the 'studies' that I have seen up to this point consist of interviews with self-identified 'victims' combined with some anecdotal estimates or outright assumptions about rates.

    That having been said this story seems to be more upfront about it than most stating that there is little hard scientific evidence on the rates, amounts, etc. It also seems to shie away from letting any one "advocate" propose the sweeping issues that past articles have.

    In my opinion, Even if the problem is 10% to 50% of the population I believe that 'national mandates' such as shunting porn to specific ports is not the solution. They have never worked in the past (e.g. Prohibition, the War on Drugs, banning prostitution, etc.) The solutuion as with any addiction is individual education and care. If your life has been ruined by addiction to anything then direct individual help (with recognition from your employer, friends, etc.) is what you need and I hope you get it. A law sending you to jail or installing a timer/filter on your computer is, in my opinion, not going to help.

    One U.S. Supreme Court Justice once said (paraphrase) that the function of laws to protect children cannot be to make adults act like children or to treat them that way. In my opinion, laws that treat everyone like an addict do nothing to help real addicts, they only harm everyone else.

  • 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.

    Yeah, basically they're saying, give me more money. A party with a vested interest to convince us that we're mentally ill has a bit less credibility with that recommentdation.
  • ...but can you make it drink?

    Assuming that "Internet Addiction" is a valid addiction, I most likely have it. When not at my commoner jobs, I'm on the internet most of my waking hours; that's about 5 hours a day or more.

    Slashdot, Fark, ANN, LiveJournal, IMs, StumbleUpon... Even if I recognize that I do have a problem, I don't think I'd want to change; I believe that many others wouldn't, either. Like many who venture onto the internet, I am introverted. I have problems meeting people face to face, and for th
  • Humans have a biological compulsion to communicate whether it is talking or indirectly by reading, writing and TV. The internet is another, fairly direct mode.
    If you cut off a human from all means of communication with others, for example on a desert island, many will eventually go mad. Event a few days a on solo backpack and I feel some of these effects.
  • Everything fun is evil and addictive. All you people out there stop using the net, masterbating, playing video games, watching tv, playing sports, reading comics, and doing anything else that sets off the pleasure centers in the brain because pleasure is an evil sin that must be eradicated for the good of mankind. Our all powerful, commanding overlords of psychology and politics command us!
  • You're familiar with the idea of Pavlovian conditioning - stimulus / response. There are a lot of other conditioning structures, particularly operant conditioning that reinforces specific behaviors.

    The strongest conditioning comes from something called a variable reinforcement schedule - the reinforcement comes after a random number of repetitions of the behavior (so, say for a rat, between 1 and 20 presses on a lever to get a food pellet).

    You can see that same reinforcement pattern in slot machines that pa

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