Stanford Says You’re Hooked On The Net

    October 20, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Internet addiction used to be a joking matter, but it has reached a point where the reality of too much WWW has lead some to busted relationships, job losses, and other bad side effects.

The question Stanford hoped to settle with its telephone-based study considers whether or not too much Internet use is just a bad habit, or a condition meriting a medical diagnosis.

“Our telephone survey suggests that potential markers of problematic Internet use are present in a sizeable portion of the population,” the researchers noted in their paper, which appears in the October issue of CNS Spectrums: The International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine.

‘Sizable’ means one out of eight people possess at least “at least one possible sign of problematic Internet use.” Preliminary findings cited in a statement from the researchers described who might be a typical addict:

…the typical affected individual is a single, college-educated, white male in his 30s, who spends approximately 30 hours a week on non-essential computer use. While some may hear this profile and assume that a person’s Internet “addiction” might actually be an extreme fondness for pornography, (lead author Elias Aboujaoude, MD) stressed that pornography sites are just one part of the problem.

“Not surprisingly, online pornography and, to some degree, online gambling, have received the most attention-but users are as likely to use other sites, including chat rooms, shopping venues and special-interest Web sites,” he said. “Our survey did not track what specific Internet venues were the most frequented by respondents, but other studies, and our clinical experience, indicate that pornography is just one area of excessive Internet use.”

Naturally the potential for compulsive Internet usage does not limit itself to specific racial, gender, or educational backgrounds. If you find yourself slipping out of bed at 3:30 AM on a Sunday to check your ad statistics, or leaving your child’s birthday party to update your online campaigns, you may want to talk to a medical professional.

Aboujaoude said in the statement the next step in researching Internet addiction would be to “conduct comprehensive clinical interviews on a large sample of people to better identify clinically relevant markers for problematic Internet use, and to better understand whether this phenomenon constitutes an independent psychological disorder.”


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.