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Internet Addiction, Newsweek article, "A World Wide Woe"
Old 10-12-2009, 02:07 PM   #1
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Internet Addiction, Newsweek article, "A World Wide Woe"

Internet Addiction Left My Brother Homeless | Newsweek Life | Newsweek.com

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I also wonder how many other people are addicted to the Internet without even knowing it. Research from Greenfield and others suggests that as much as 6 percent of the Internet-using population may have an addiction issue. The quiz is one good way to get an idea whether you have a problem. It's based on the same methodology as other surveys to detect addiction. If you had to stop checking your e-mail for a week (let's assume that you didn't have to do so for work), would it bother you? "People are starting to self-examine," Rae says. "Do I play too much? What would that look like?"
I’m surprised to see they say that only 6% have a problem. We’ve discussed internet addiction tests here before and I for one continue to spend too much time on the net. I’ve got a timer set for one hour, but will set it again to allow two hours for this session because I was offline a lot over the last three days and need to catch up. I have to check my email at least every third day to make sure I’ve paid all my bills. The free offers from my movie group are time-sensitive--I don't check that email address very often so almost missed a free download of new music last week. I had to stop writing this paragraph to check that email--oh well, looks like I didn't win the lottery for a free sneak peek of "Big Fan."

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The Internet is addicting, says psychologist David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in West Hartford, Conn., because it works on a "variable ratio reinforcement schedule," which is a fancy way of saying that it gets you high every once in awhile. This is based on a theory first espoused by renowned psychologist B. F. Skinner—not knowing whether a reward is coming is actually more compelling than being able to count on results every time.
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The most important step is to be conscious that the behavior's dangerous; be aware that you may be getting high from it. Then, it's about changing patterns of use to make sure you're only using the Web when necessary, "not to medicate yourself because you're bored, scared, tired, or angry," he says.
This is where I see myself. I got into reading forums when I was tired at work at the end of the day, when there was not enough time to start a new project; and then added it to the multi-tasking system. To be honest, I do feel high quite often, not just on the internet but when I'm out in the world, say taking a walk, watching a live performance, or yesterday, laughing with friends.
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:19 PM   #2
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Did they mention my name?
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:21 PM   #3
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I know I've got a problem in this regard. There's so much out there (and here on this board. "Click on 'Today's Posts', maybe there's something new. Nope. Maybe now! I'll check again!" ). It's an extension of a weakness I've always had: my idea of a perfect day would be to go to the university research library and follow interesting leads to my heart's content. Well, then how much more is the problem magnified with the 'net? The whole world is out there, at my fingertips.

But, the real world isn't "out there." It is right here--in my house, with my friends, family, dog, etc.

I can get online and before I know it half the day is gone. Is this why I (semi) retired?

Anyway, thanks for the post. Step 1 is admitting I have a problem.
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:35 PM   #4
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I thought of you.
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:54 PM   #5
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The article said (from your quote)
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If you had to stop checking your e-mail for a week (let's assume that you didn't have to do so for work), would it bother you?
What if the question had been, If you had to stop checking your snail-mail for a week (let's assume that you didn't have to do so for work), would it bother you?

That would bother ME. Every day I check my little cast iron mailbox, bring in the mail, and throw out the ads. Every day I check my e-mail too, and delete the spam.

I think that there is a part of most people that resists change and technological innovations. But really, the internet represents a change in how we shop, do business, and chat with one another. We can call that an "addiction", but if so, we are addicted to living in the 21st century.

(sanctimonious speech over now...thankyouverymuch)
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:56 PM   #6
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Guilty as charged

I view my Internet usage in 2 ways - for education/mental stimulation and for entertainment. The hours I spend online do not concern me unless I either a) did not learn anything, or b) did not challenge my brain, or
c) did not accomplish a time critical task because of surfing.
The idle minded entertainment part of my surfing time is pretty minimal.
I am home alone a lot, but not all the time and not every single day. I live out in the middle of nowhere subject to some pretty extreme cold weather.
I alternate surfing with getting home or silly fun projects done so I am not sitting for long uninterrupted periods. I still set a timer for 1 hour to make sure I get up and do something else.
And I'm totally comfy with how I spend my day.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:04 PM   #7
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I remember the days when people used to get worked up because kids were spending too much time reading books, it was an addition back then. And we won't even discuss rock and roll music.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:06 PM   #8
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I think W2R and others have a valid point... the internet is just another extension of some of the other media we have...

I check this forum while at work.. so I am stuck anyhow...

I check my snail mail to make sure nothing falls through the crack, just like my emails...

I pay almost all my bills online..

My definiton of an addiction is when you have to take a look.. no matter what you are doing... as an example... my nephew was over to our house a weekend ago... and was trying to connect to our wireless server.. he wanted to check something out... I said 'the computer is upstairs'... but he did not want to go.. he wanted to be able to hold his internet phone in his hand and be able to look at something whenever he wanted... now, that is addicted...

Also, what about all the people who are addicted to their blackberry (I think this is everybody who has one)... and what about cell phones... heck, how many will stop in the middle of a sentence to answer their cell? (not me...)..


Now, when I am on vacation... my wife thinks I am addicted... because I have a number of fantasy teams and when it is baseball or basketball season, you almost have to adjust every day... football is easier as you can go almost a week without doing anything..
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:09 PM   #9
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I remember the days when people used to get worked up because kids were spending too much time reading books, it was an addition back then. And we won't even discuss rock and roll music.
My sixth grade teacher told me (in front of the entire class) that I was spending too much time reading and should spend more time doing other things. My mother also told me during that same year that I would have to wear glasses if I read too much. Well, maybe she was right (I do wear glasses) but I think reading was a valuable activity for an 11 year old.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
The article said (from your quote)

What if the question had been, If you had to stop checking your snail-mail for a week (let's assume that you didn't have to do so for work), would it bother you?

That would bother ME. Every day I check my little cast iron mailbox, bring in the mail, and throw out the ads. Every day I check my e-mail too, and delete the spam.

I think that there is a part of most people that resists change and technological innovations. But really, the internet represents a change in how we shop, do business, and chat with one another. We can call that an "addiction", but if so, we are addicted to living in the 21st century.

(sanctimonious speech over now...thankyouverymuch)
I agree with this. Same for phone messages. Email is no less a communication tool.

On the otherhand, I spend a lot of time on my ass cruising the net, especially in winter. But if something interrupts, it is no big deal to walk away. I don't jones for the net.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:42 PM   #11
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I spend a lot of time online because a lot of things can now done much more productively via the internet. I bank online, I pay my bills online, I shop online, I invest online, I socialize online, I learn new things online, I watch or download movies online, I fill my tax forms online, I do work and personal research online, I read scientific papers online, etc... If the internet did not allow me to do all these things right on my desktop, I would still have to do all of them the old ways which was much less productive. So as long as you don't spend your days roaming aimlessly from dumb to dumber websites, what's the problem?
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:51 PM   #12
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as long as you don't spend your days roaming aimlessly from dumb to dumber websites, what's the problem?
Now that you mention it, I seldom go to websites that I haven't bookmarked any more (unless I have a specific question that I need answered via search engine). These are websites such as this one, vanguard, my bank, tvguide, various news sites, my daughter's blog, and so on.

I used to read article after article on topics that interested me. I think that is an enjoyable and constructive way to use the internet - - for its individual study potential. I'll have to do more of that as time permits (and in 28 days, time should permit a little more).
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:58 PM   #13
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I spend a lot of time online because a lot of things can now done much more productively via the internet. I bank online, I pay my bills online, I shop online, I invest online, I socialize online, I learn new things online, I watch or download movies online, I fill my tax forms online, I do work and personal research online, I read scientific papers online, etc... If the internet did not allow me to do all these things right on my desktop, I would still have to do all of them the old ways which was much less productive. So as long as you don't spend your days roaming aimlessly from dumb to dumber websites, what's the problem?
I fall into this category. In fact, I have three computers on my desk, each doing different things -- one monitoring news items, one monitoring my e-mail (I get around 150 a day), and one that I do all my "work" on. (Work meaning the "life" things -- bills, investing, reading, research, etc.) One major exception, I rarely use the computer for video watching -- in fact, the YouTube videos embedded in posts here seldom get me past the 30 second mark -- as it is too distracting.

How do I know that I am not addicted? When we are on the road for several weeks-- I, obviously, can't keep up that pace -- I don't feel like I am missing anything.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:18 PM   #14
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I agree with those who say most of us are off the hook, not addicted to the internet. The 6% number makes more sense considering that the worst cases may spend too much time on computer games, not just the internet in general. The homeless brother in the article, IMO, is doing more passive activities than most forum members; there is no mention of posting on the internet, setting up his own blog, nor “developing software” which was a possible career path.
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He plays role-playing videogames such as World of Warcraft, but he's also got a page of RSS feeds that makes my head spin, filled with blogs he's interested in, news Web sites, and other tentacles into cyberspace.... by the day's end that the most detrimental influence in his life, from an early age, was videogames and the Internet.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:22 PM   #15
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I took the quiz just for fun. It did not give me a score at the end, but invited me to sign up for their next therapy session.
I wonder if the therapy sessions will be delivered online?
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:26 PM   #16
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I took the quiz just for fun. It did not give me a score at the end, but invited me to sign up for their next therapy session.
I wonder if the therapy sessions will be delivered online?
There are people at my coffee shop who seem to be recovering addicts (of gawd knows what ). I'll be taking a new spin on their interest in my digital devices.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:29 PM   #17
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One major exception, I rarely use the computer for video watching -- in fact, the YouTube videos embedded in posts here seldom get me past the 30 second mark -- as it is too distracting.
I don't watch YouTube videos either, too much ill-deserved self-important behavior going on there IMO. But since our Blockbuster closed shop, I now rent/buy movies online via Itunes. And I sometimes watch TV shows on Hulu.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:12 PM   #18
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While working away... something else came to mind about this thread...

If you tweet... or receive someone else's tweet.... you are addicted...

And I didn't know what a tweet was a few months ago... still have never looked at the site, nor want to...
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:24 PM   #19
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While working away... something else came to mind about this thread...

If you tweet... or receive someone else's tweet.... you are addicted...

And I didn't know what a tweet was a few months ago... still have never looked at the site, nor want to...
If it wasn't for those pesky grandchildren and the younger nieces/nephews, I wouldn't know what you are talking about. Unfortunatley, they are relentless if their pursuit of keeping my up-to-date -- I am appalled at some the names they use to get my attention.

Not that I understand the appeal of social networking, by any measure.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:37 PM   #20
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If you see a brightly light tunnel in front of you with dead relatives beaconing you to join them, you are probably addicted. Otherwise, you are OK.
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