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Editorial The Internet

Computer Addiction or Just Modern Life? 261

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the nope-i'm-an-addict dept.
Ant writes to tell us that ABC News has an interesting look at computer addiction and what it might take to be considered addicted in today's society. From the article: "Video games and the Internet have been subject to suspicion since the computer became a household fixture. One complaint: People get sucked into spending enormous amounts of time on the computer, to the detriment of other parts of their life. But are they addicted? The answer depends on what you mean by 'addicted.' Most experts say computers are not addictive in the same sense that drugs are, but they could be on the same level as gambling."
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Computer Addiction or Just Modern Life?

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  • problem? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Prophetic_Truth (822032) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:31PM (#14721887)
    problem? problem? i don't have a problem...its valentine's day and i got first post, do you think i have a problem?
    • Re:problem? (Score:5, Funny)

      by pHatidic (163975) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:57PM (#14722023)
      Refresh...Refresh...Refresh...Refresh...Valentine' s what?
      • Re:problem? (Score:3, Funny)

        by strider44 (650833)
        Hell I heard that many slashdotters in America didn't even know there was a huge blizzard going on since, after all, their overclocked P4s were keeping the basement to a nice toasty 40c.
      • Re:problem? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @02:11AM (#14722500)
        Valentine' s what?

        Even on Slashdot, ignorance like this is ridiculous. Valentine's Day, of course, celebrates ones of the most famous massacres. You're supposed to give gifts of appeasement to avoid another one.
    • Re:problem? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Oh great, by this reasoning I'm addicted to the toilet; whatever shall I do?
    • Of course not. It just means you are that much less in the red.
  • Ummm.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by drcagn (715012) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:31PM (#14721889) Homepage
    There's no link?
  • by AndreiK (908718) <AKrotkov@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:31PM (#14721893)
    Note that I am posting this on Valentines day, at 10:30PM instead of spending time with the girlfriend.

    Am I addicted? Not in the traditional sense of the word, of course.
  • mmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by D4ve G (902530)
    Addiction is not necessarily bad.
    • Re:mmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ruff_ilb (769396) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:54PM (#14722016) Homepage
      Indeed. I have massive hand stregnth due to my mousing and keyboarding, and the girls always like it when we're good with our hands. And of course, if THAT fails...
    • Re:mmm (Score:2, Funny)

      by calculadoru (760076)
      Addiction is not necessarily bad.

      That is precisely what an addict would say.
    • Re:mmm (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dw604 (900995)
      I believe that everything is addictive. If you have a thought once I believe you are more likely to 'retread' that old path and re-think that thought. Likewise, if you do something once you are drawn to do it again. So my question is... Why? Is it that it's 'addictive'? Or could we be inclined to conserve 'energy' when acquiring knowledge and hence seek a deeper understanding of things we've experienced as opposed to brand new things?

      Habits, addiction, conditioning - is it all the same?
      • Re:mmm (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shawb (16347)
        Habits are something you do without really thinking about it, almost reflexive. Addictions are something you do so much that other important areas of your life suffer. Some people even use habit and addiction interchangeably.

        Hmm... while looking up addiction on Wikipedia I came across an interesting experiment [wikipedia.org] which basically shows that the animal based research on drug addiction we have is flawed. Basically, the animals used in most drug addiction studies are not in a natural environment; they are pu
  • by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:33PM (#14721903) Homepage Journal
    Just as TV, radio, or telephone.

    Is it necessary for survival? Only if the environment forces you to it. The current environment is technologically-driven, so you need to stay connected to have a social life, student life, work life, etc.

    The real problem is about people whose life is so miserable that to escape from the world, they use the internet. THEN it becomes an addiction, but I'd say that's the least of their problems.
    • Well, I dont know about pathetic, but I use real life to escape from the internet...
      At least, that's how I feel sometimes. ;)
    • I used the internet and games to stay away from drugs... damn hippies gotta love em. :) Worked awesome for a few years.. till I got burned out from my love of playing Tribes 24/7 practically... Is this an addiction?... My computer is less than 2 feet away from my bed. I rolled out of bed to get on the computer.. before any coffee... I'd sometimes take days off from work just to play Tribes.... guess though making it into a #7 ranked team though was a nice enough reward for all my hard work and fun I had...
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:04AM (#14722058)
      For example Maslow would say it is a need, or rather fills a need, that being self actualization. See Maslow thought that the traditonal definition of need, that being the basic things required to sustain life, was too narrow. People seem to need more than that, at least if they are to have a fulfilling life. His thoery was that as you filled more base needs, you moved up to the next level. So physical needs like food and water are first, then shelter and security and so on up. At the very top there is self actualization. That would be anything you find personally fulfilling, be that a something that challenges you, entertains you, enlightens you, whatever.

      Well, computers and the Internet sure can do that. Computer games are wonderfully entertaining, at least for some. I find them much more satasfying than TV most of the time. The Internet is an excellent place to get at all sorts of information for no other reason than because you want to.

      So I wouldn't say it's an artifical need, it's very real, it's just one that there are many ways to fill, and computers are not a requisite to doing that, just a way of doing it if you like. I don't think they are any less valid than any other method. I don't understand the conception that a family that comes home and watches TV all evening while eating, chatting, etc is "normal" but one that goes and logs on to Warcraft is "addicted".

      I'd say computers are just one of the many things we choose to spend time on meeting our highest needs, since our more basic ones are generally quite easily met in rich countries.
      • by rewinn (647614) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:28AM (#14722154) Homepage

        >self actualization

        Well said! As Maslow put it in A Theory of Human Motivation [yorku.ca]:

        A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization....The specific form that these needs will take will of course vary greatly from person to person. In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions.

        Technology facilitates these needs in two ways.

        Technology lowers the transaction costs. It's easier for me to write with a keyboard (and, ahem, spellcheck) than with a quill pen. Also to the degree that communicating with other people helps in the creative process (e.g. /. encourages me to think and to write about subjects like this, which might otherwise pass me by.)

        Technology makes it easier to more broadly disseminate the products of creativity, both in space and time. The near-annihilation of geographical limits is obvious, but what may be of greater interest to persons seeking self-actualization is the knowledge that once something goes into the Internet Archive [archive.org] and its various commercial analogues, e.g. Google's database, the creation may last longer than humanity itself. That's not immortality, but perhaps as close as we can get with current technology!

      • Maslow was something of an absolutist (idiocy abounds) with his pyramid. Also, it doesn't fully reflect actual human nature in any respect. Some of our best art has come from starving, fearful, depressed maniacs. Further, some of our best code has come from starving, fearful, depressed maniacs *ahem*.

        It's a nice thought experiment, however it just shatters when a drop of reality hits it.
    • Precisely. I know lot's of people who get home from work and then spend five hours straight watching the tube. Are they addicted? Others spend hours reading? How about them? Hours on the phone gossiping? I have another friend who plays about 12-15 hours of volleyball a week.

      Are these people "addicted", or just spending time doing what they enjoy.

      Personally, this seems to be yet another case of the media attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill...

    • Is it necessary for survival? Only if the environment forces you to it. The current environment is technologically-driven, so you need to stay connected to have a social life, student life, work life, etc.

      Well yes. Without technology I'd be hard pressed to earn a living at my current tech support job and I'd doubt I could make it very far hunting animals with my bare hands.

      I for one do not wish to live in a world where I only live to 25 and have no teeth and live in the woods covered in lice fearing the dar
  • ABC News ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:34PM (#14721906)
    if it's not "Action News" [slashdot.org], it's not worth my time.
  • by saskboy (600063) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:36PM (#14721911) Homepage Journal
    Someone should do a study into Slash-addiction.

    Computers, games, Internet, chat, whatever can be addicting. You can tell because people will do something unproductive to the point of harming themselves. What's unproductivity you ask? Doing something that doesn't endear you to other human beings, and produces no tangible result that you can talk proudly about later with your grandchildren.

    Grandchildren are what you have after you find a mate, have children, and raise them well enough that they too have children. I tell you this, because you're a Slashdotter like me, and quite possibly haven't considered the possibility that you can spend enough time away from the keyboard to actually find a mate. It's possible, since married Slashdotters post all the time, and even our great leader (1) Taco is married and proposed on Slashdot. Being Valentine's Day, it's the perfect time to wallow in your single-ness, and motivate yourself to do something tomorrow that will introduce yourself to new people and potentially a mate.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You know, I'll post anonymously just to say (a) I've been a geek since the first Commodore 64, and (b) enjoyed an active sex life (with the usual ups and downs) almost from that same time, and (c) am currently married to a highly-sexed wife, who has a skill for finding better porn online than I do, and with whom it has been my pleasure to experience BDSM hedonism to the point of taking it to public social clubs (good call I post anonymously, huh?). OK? Becoming a geek doesn't automatically rob you of sex or
    • Apathy.

      I simply don't care enough to put forth the effort required to establish and maintain a relationship. The rewards do not out-weigh the cost in my mind. I'm indifferent.

      I describe it as the path of least resistance. If my drive towards something is neutral, I'll make no effort to avoid it and no effort to obtain it. I'm not going to try and find a mate because I simply don't care one way or another.

      I'm not wallowing in anything, and the fact that I am not only comfortable with my situation but happy w
  • Link to article (Score:2, Informative)

    by syneca (112262)
  • How much time do you use your web browser/chat client/im app versus how much time you use other programs like graphics applications or word processors.
  • Well, it's 10:39 at night and I'm checking and posting to slashdot...

    You make the call.

    • Well, it's 10:39 at night and I'm checking and posting to slashdot...

      You make the call.


      Non issue - it's currently 1:20 AM.

      To be fair, that's generally within a half-hour when I get home from work. Now, I feel sleepy.
  • How about cars? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stoutlimb (143245) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:41PM (#14721942)
    Let's see...

    Automobile addiction, or just modern life?

    Telephone addiction, or just modern life?

    Newspaper addiction, or just modern life?

    Machine addiction, or just modern life?

    Agriculture addiction, or just modern life?

    Clothes addiction, or just modern life?

    Fire addiction, or just modern life?

    Pointy stick addiction, or just modern life?

    Hmmmm...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:58PM (#14722029)
      Pointy stick addiction, or just modern life?

      I can quit pointy sticks anytime I want. I just don't want to..

    • If somebody was obsessed with their car and went randomly cruising around in it so much that it severely impeded other areas of their life, then yes, I'd call that an addiction.
    • by sien (35268) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:11AM (#14722081) Homepage
      Please keep your clothes addiction.

      Think of the children.
    • How about breathing? I bet breathing produces certain chemicals in the brain that indicate it needs to continue breathing.

      Whether some recurring action/situation is considered an addiction or not is a personal moral judgement.

      For example, if I for some reason started to think that employer/employee relationship is psycholgocially, socially wrong, and bad for my health to boot, I may consider employment an addiction that takes up the bulk of my life.

      Usually things are considered addictive if they cause you
  • by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:42PM (#14721949)
    I've used shoes for so long that I'm not sure how well I could live without them. Shaking this addiction would probably cause me physical harm. If I hadn't started using them so much, I probably wouldn't need them so much now.

    I'm also psychologically addicted to toothpaste. Even though my body doesn't require it to survive, I don't think I could ever convince myself to stop using it without great pressure.

    Computers are a tool, folks. They're used so much because they're a tool for a very wide variety of things. Imagine how much you'd use a car that did fifty other things for you.
  • It's an addiction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HairyCanary (688865) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:43PM (#14721950)
    I find myself spending hours every day online. Eventually I reach the point where I realize that the last hour I've spent surfing nothing at all. Just going from site to site looking for something new & interesting to pop up. It is especially bad when you get involved in discussion forums.

    I absolutely recognize that it is detrimental to the rest of my life -- I do neglect things that are arguably more important. And I get frustrated sometimes, and seriously consider yanking the cord right out of the wall and throwing the computer in the closet for a few weeks.

    It may not be a classic addiction in the physical sense, but I could see it being similar to something like a gambling addiction, as mentioned. I know that I'll sit down at the computer frequently, even when I know there is nothing new to see, because I just looked a few minutes earlier ;). And yet I will do a little surfing anyway.

    And that is why I am typing this on Valentine's Day, instead of being out with my non-existent girlfriend.

    • by nido (102070)
      A competent hypnotist I know says 'addictive' things are the ones where you die if it's taken away, or at least get some serious withdrawal symptoms. If there's no physical dependancy [wikipedia.org], it's not a "real" addiction.

      You might get a few jitters if you quit your internet habit cold-turkey, but you'll be okay. "Addiction Medicine" specialists deal with people who've developed chemical dependancies. Good hypnotists help deal with the psychological aspects of an addiction, but they need to work with a doctor-typ
  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:43PM (#14721951) Homepage
    If someone spends hours and hours and hours a day online, they're "addicted".

    If someone spends hours and hours and hours a day watching television, they're just normal Americans.

    Does ABC NEWS (you know, the television channel) make note of this odd double standard? Hard to tell, since Slashdot didn't bother to actually provide us the story to read. I guess this is actually a pretty smart move on Slashdot's part. Nobody reads the stories anyway, so now to save on bandwidth they're just omitting the links.
  • back in the day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by carlocius (153486) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:45PM (#14721968) Homepage
    Back at MSU I did research on IAD. Being a computer geek and psych geek I thought it was the perfect independant study. The problem I found, which turned into my thesis, was that the entire psychological community saw IAD as a chance to "exploit" clients. So they wrote the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria to mimic that of other addictions (gambling, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc). I thought that was a horrid idea since the internet - and computer - are merely tools to an end so my thesis went something like, "Internet addiction should not be deemed a disorder in itself but another disorder through a new medium."

    You've got all the traditional fixes online - gambling, power, people, and so on. You can use the internet to get to your fix, it is not a fix on its own.
    • > Back at MSU I did research on IAD. Being a computer geek and psych geek I thought it was the perfect independant study. The problem I found, which turned into my thesis, was that the entire psychological community saw IAD as a chance to "exploit" clients. So they wrote the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria to

      Sonny, you've got an acronym addiction.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:49PM (#14721984)
    I don't "spend too much time on my PCs", but I do spend a lot of time editing/processing digital photographs. And editing videos. And writing letters & other documents. And writing/testing programs. And keeping up with world news. And searching for information in many sources. And managing finances. And drawing diagrams.

    The fact that all the tools to perform those tasks, and more, happen to be in the same box is incidental.
  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:49PM (#14721986)
    There are people addicted to socializing and having sex with as many people as possible too.... and THAT'S an addiction.

    Food and breathing air can be addicting to. Once you start on that yummy oxygen, you can't really stop!

    What were we talking about again?
  • Well, what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hosiah (849792) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:51PM (#14722002)
    Not a lot of Slashdot response on this one, huh? Stuck for words?

    OK, Unca Hosie'll help you out. First, general refutation: if the sole criteria for deeming something an "addiction" is that you spend a lot of time doing it so much as to neglect other activities, then why not say *sleep* is addicting? We spend one third of our lives doing it, we're unable to stop (we may try to curtail our sleeping but the "withdrawal symptoms" set in), and we could be doing a lot of more valuable things with our time if we didn't have to spend so much of it sleeping.

    Second, if we must categorize computer use as addicting, then it is a relatively benign addiction. Beyond the case of the occasional socially-handicapped geek (rarely reported these days), few detrimental effects are known to stem from excessive computer use. Carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress disorder may affect certain individuals in extreme cases (and may partly be blamed on poor interface design). Beyond that, it neither affects your physical health like drugs nor your financial health like gambling (which I don't classify as an addiction, but rather as a mental disease - based on the denial of the laws of mathematics in the face of an irrational faith in luck). Some psychological damage can be noted in the case of system administrators (read scary-devil-monastery lately?), but as these people encounter their hardships as a result of using computers in a professional capacity, even this evidence is negligible.

    • Re:Well, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Crispy Critters (226798) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:16AM (#14722104)
      if the sole criteria for deeming something an "addiction" is that you spend a lot of time doing it so much as to neglect other activities, then why not say *sleep* is addicting?

      Because that is a silly definition of addiction. William S. Burroughs covered this somewhere in Naked Lunch. Something is addictive if that thing creates the feeling of need for more of the thing. Certain drugs are addictive, because users cannot stand being without them, while I, who never tried them, do not miss them.

      Oxygen is not addictive because my body inherently needs oxygen. The need was not created by exposure to oxygen. Same for sleep.

      Computer use addictive? Perhaps for some people surfing or hacking could become a psychological need. This is different from just wasting a lot of time on computers.

    • Not a lot of Slashdot response on this one, huh? Stuck for words?

      "Man Accuses Slashdotters in a Post of Being Too Nerdy to Reply to a Post On Slashdot on Valentines Day Night"
  • Some good points (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kelbear (870538) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:52PM (#14722004)
    The woman's commentary is interesting. she doesn't consider her gaming an addiction because it's not destructive. While she spends less time going out, she feels that she has merely supplanted going out with going online. A transplanted social life.

    The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle ground between the two extremes.

    As a college student, instant messaging has become a vital form of communication amongst myself and my peers. To lose access to instant messaging would severely restrict my social access. It's a less attention consuming form of contact than a phone conversation and it allows me to converse with multiple friends at the same time rather than being tied down to one at a time. Often my buddies plan to head out somewhere over the ventrilo chat channel. If I'm not at a computer I'd miss out.

    We play games together as a group, it's a social activity that has introduced me to the bulk of my hometown friends. It supplants gathering 'round for a football game since only a few of us are even interested in spots.

    I didn't grow up immersed in sports, undiagnosed athsma kept me from excelling in sports for a long time and instead video games took its place as a recreational activity.

    There was a time when video games seemed to be the sole niche of an underground geek culture. However, as time progressed, the video game industry has blossomed and television advertisements for games have become commonplace. Many geeks would come to wonder when jocks started playing games too. They had probably been playing all along, but since video games have become more prevalent, society has become more accepting of this hobby and more are admitting to the activity.

    Humanity has experienced a diverse set of lifestyles. We've tilled fields to scratch out subsistence lives in the countryside and washed ourselves with buckets of water, we've moved into cities and have become accustomed to commuting to work over distances that would have taken a full day of travel, and we are now touching upon an age where computers will become a natural extension of our lives.

    How much is too much? This is clearly a question of values. Notably physical health is questioned. Also, mental health may come into question when some choose to completely divorce themselves from reality in order to live out another life they find more comforting. Society will also come to consider how much "real" social contact can be replaced with virtual contact.

    (Btw, at some point, we're going to have to figure out a system to properly convey a range of emotions through text if we are going to make virtual contact more like real contact. We might need to upgrade keyboards with emotion keys akin to Caps Lock and make the necessary software changes. The earlier slashdot article on misconstrued posts raises this question already)
  • by MrFlibbs (945469) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:53PM (#14722010)
    Addiction implies the brain has been altered to reinforce the desire to continue use of the addictive stimulant. Powerful addictive substances alter the functioning of the brain and can (at least in some cases) be measured either via chemical imbalance or altered brain scans.

    Addictive substances are addictive because they've evolved that way -- they exert some type of control over other creatures (like humans) by stimulating the pleasure centers of the host's brain. It's really a symbiotic (or in some cases, parasitic) relationship between two species. Computers don't fit into this picture.

    Are people who read a lot of books addicted to books? What about people who play sports? Or pursue any other hobby for that matter? Just because some people choose to spend a lot of time at the keyboard doesn't mean their brains have been altered to *need* the experience.
    • by Woldry (928749) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:35AM (#14722189) Journal
      Are people who read a lot of books addicted to books?

      Funny you should ask.

      When novels started becoming widely popular in Europe, there was a lot of concern about people spending too much time reading them and neglecting more important and vital aspects of life. Madame Bovary is, ironically enough, a novel that is in part about the detrimental effects of an addiction to the reading of novels; the same in a sense could be said of Don Quixote.

      People always have decried whatever the "addiction" of the moment is, and they probably always will.

      But it's not their fault, really. They're addicted to doing so ...

  • We can't possibly be responsible for the consequences of our own decisions, eh? Next there's going to be another new dubious reason to herd us all into pay-by-the-hour psychotherapy and expensive brain-altering prescriptions to help us, because we can't possibly freely make a choice of our own free will. Cripes.

    How about some of us make good choices, and some of us make not so good choices, and we have to live with the consequences. Unless we're screwing up our neighbor's peace in the process, we can a

  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:05AM (#14722061) Homepage
    I was being distracted from my studies by the computer. My solution? I got e-texts. For example, it was hard to sit down and crack open Nandris' Handbook of Old Church Slavonic, but with the University of Texas' online course [utexas.edu], I can position a chat window over a blank portion of the screen and study and talk over IM at the same time. Or, I can keep it in one tab and go back and forth between it and the BBC News website. In fact, I'm amazed at home much I'm getting done of studying, socializing, and keeping up with the news. Computer addiction is keeping me more productive, not less. Granted, I'm in academia, a profession based on soaking up as much knowledge as possible, but there are still millions of people who must be benefitting as much as I am.
  • Oh, yeah?! (Score:3, Funny)

    by kclittle (625128) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:05AM (#14722063)
    "Most experts say computers are not addictive in the same sense that drugs are, but they could be on the same level as gambling.

    I'll bet you a $100 they're not... right after I reach level 45 on WoW...

  • Computers are no more an addiction than being addicted to water and air. Computers don't have a detremental affect on people, so why see them as bad?
  • I think.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by No. 24601 (657888) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:12AM (#14722084)
    The real question in determining whether an addiction exists is not how much time the person spends on the activity, but rather what happens to the person when they cannot for whatever reason do that activity (say by unexpected circumstance).
  • Well... (Score:2, Funny)

    by JimXugle (921609)
    If it's 11:20 PM on Valentine's day and you're posting on /. then you're addicted.
  • by kjh1 (65671) *

    Hasn't this subject been beaten to death already? Stories about the Internet and gaming being addictive have been written ad nauseum ever since those things became popular. What makes an Internet 'addiction' so different from say, an 'addiction' to Dungeons & Dragons or collecting model cars or modding your car or... Well, you get the point. To me, this is just the media wanting to find something to write about other than hard news.

    As long as people continue to exist, they will find and invent new thi

  • by Feanturi (99866) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:29AM (#14722163)
    I'm a die-hard, every single day of my life computer and Internet power user. Computers for 22 years, Internet for 16 of those years, spanning quite a few different fields of interest through those years. I don't have a notebook, PDA, or even a cellphone, but every single day I'm immersed in computers. All day at work, and all evening when I get home, until I go to sleep. Not counting work, which is, well, work, what am I doing the rest of the time? Heck, you name it. See a long time ago it stopped being about "being into computers" for me, it's simply the way I get things done that are important to me; like writing, making music, exploring graphic arts, learning things... Basically, stimulating my brain with everything including the kitchen sink. Can I do this without computers? Yeah, most of it, and here's my point: Any given day, I can go on a vacation, have somewhere else to be other than home, maybe all day, maybe for a week in another city somewhere. As I mentioned, I have no portable devices. If I'm not at home, then I don't give a crap about what my computers do for me there. When I'm at home, I'm glued there, because that's the most entertaining and enriching place in the apartment, no big deal. If I'm going to be at home, it's that or watch TV, or read a book. Oh hey, I can do those things on the computer too. Take me out of my home and put me in the mountains somewhere, I'm happy as a clam. There, I'm not thinking about my daily computer existance at all; and on returning home, I'll sink right back into them just as joyfully as I stepped away.

    It's just life at this point... I think that the breadth of what one can be into with computers negates the addiction factor. If I was doing just one thing on my computer all the time, like play Evercrack or sit and refresh the front page of Slashdot for hours, every day, that would be an addiction, like sitting in front of the same slot machine all day. An addiction to Evercrack is only involving one particular aspect of the usage of a very versatile tool. I don't think that makes the tool an addiction at all.
  • GF!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by mikefitz (954613) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:32AM (#14722175)
    An addiction? Nope. It is the perfect medium for me to see what my ex girlfriend is doing - I check her away messages on aim all the time. Right now she is on a Valentines date with her new boyfriend. I can't wait until she comes to her senses and we get back together, this is SO us! *cries* /goes back to tech-report.
  • media cycles (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mgabrys_sf (951552)
    Back in the 60's newspapers were accusing television of being a "vast wasteland", and plenty of other harsh sentaments. Now TV has been losing traction to video games and the internet and periodically throws out puff-pieces about "internet addiction" and "the cult of the video game".

    Without getting sidetracked on the sheer coolness of being around for the creation of 2 distinct forms of media in my lifetime (which I can go on about for say 20 pages), the fact remains that my cable bill is for internet on
  • Or both. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:40AM (#14722215) Homepage
    To count as a real addiction in Griffiths' view, it has to be destructive, cause withdrawal symptoms and prompt ever greater use to maintain the kick.
    I think that third qualification is a bit of a red herring. While it's true that many substances require the use of increasing amounts to achieve the same effects, there are limits. In the case of most substances, it's toxicity. There's also supply, and even the physical ability to consume increased quantities. If internet addiction exists, the limit would be time. The balloon can only get so big. If you're spending all of your waking time doing something, you simply can't devote any more.

    Personally, I think online games have a higher risk of abuse than most other typical activities, and I think the biggest factor is that they never end, MORPGs in particular, since most people are naturally driven to finish what they start. It's sort of like gambling, in that most people don't have specified rules as to when they'll stop, therefore they simply continue to play indefinately. In a sense, MORPGs are even more conducive to continued play because the only resource the player can run out of is time.

    Internet addiction also shares common ground with eating addictions, in that some use is a de facto requirement of life in the modern world. Most people control their eating acceptably well (although recent health trends arguably demonstrate otherwise), but a few take it to excess. With food, especially unhealthy food, becoming increasingly cheap, the only limit is self control. While everyone likes to think of themselves as having great self control, nature has conditioned us to do the opposite due to scarcity. Part of addictive behavior may well be attributed to that instinct.
  • Addicted is to be physiologically dependent on something habit-forming, obsessed is to be preoccupied with something - I wonder what most of us would qualify under. I mean, are we really compulsively and physiologically dependent on computers nowadays? Or is it simply todays greatest diversion, just as television was before? When you think of how much time the general public watched television only a decade ago, you would think we were all addicted... or obsessed...
  • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:45AM (#14722232) Homepage
    I'm reading comments here while also sitting at two tables playing Texas Hold'Em on-line. Why distinguish between Internet and gambling addictions when you can have both?
  • The functional definition of an addiction is an activity that interferes with you conducting your daily life. I'm a network/security geek by trade, so I spend 40+ hours per week doing something hunched over my keyboard. Once I get home, I like to blow off steam in on line games. It makes for a fun activity and I've "met" some really nice people from all over the world. We game together regularly and have for several years now. Is it an addiction?

    No. It doesn't interfere with my having a daily life. I
    • The functional definition of an addiction is an activity that interferes with you conducting your daily life.

      By that definition, a lot of Heroin users aren't addicted. Sure, they'd go into withdrawal if they stopped, but they could hold down a job if the stuff was priced near what it cost to produce, they'd just have a couple of long weekends.

      • I seriously doubt that Heroin addicts would have average or above job performance. If you read further that's one of the critera. Keep in mind that this is a somewhat rough definition of addiction that many psychologists use when diagnosing things like sexual addiction, food addiction, etc...

        2 more cents,

        Queen B
        • Pure heroin isn't particularly damaging... you sometimes hear of doctors who have been on it for years and nobody noticed.

          Of course the stuff most addicts take is far from pure... contains all sorts of crap that then gets injected straight into the bloodstream causing massive health problems and (ulimately) early death.
  • Immaginary girlfriends of the net, unite!
  • by johnrpenner (40054) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @01:21AM (#14722358) Homepage

    the things don't make you addicted to them.
    one will crave what others passes by.
    the addiction comes out of the person,
    not the thing.

    j

  • I used to call it drowning in the net. For news junkies CNN was a kick but the web is like crack. The problem is filtering and/or how to monetize (love that buzzword) being an editor. I remember when Wolfram was releasing his 'brand new theory of ... huh? ... cellular automata' as a big book complete with media bubble he mentioned why it had taken him so long. He could find just about any scientific paper on the net and that would lead to another paper and another and pretty soon it's another month gone by.
  • by Banner (17158) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @02:54AM (#14722638) Journal
    But of course, they're a TV network, aren't they? Wonder if they're begining to feel the heat with people turning off TV which is a one-way medium, and turning on their computers where they get to interact with other people?

    Personally I'd rather have people on Computers than TV, computing is far more social, and (hopefully!) intellectually stimulating than the drivel that constitutes as network programming these days!!
    • TV Exec: Hey, Bub! Youse is muscling in our turf. Youse guys gotta stop that, see, or something bad is gonna happen

      ISP Exec: Oh yeah?

      TV Exec: YEAH!

      ISP Exec: What youse gonna do about it?

      TV Exec: You'll see...

      ( TV Exec heads off to make up story about computer addiction )

      TV Exec: That will show them for trying to muscle in and take OUR addicts!
  • I've been addicted (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Deadlee (947234) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @04:47AM (#14722945) Homepage
    I used to play an Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) and I was, in hindsight, developing an addiction to it...
    When I started playing, I was working in a Net Café so I played while I worked, interrupted only by customers (who needed only logging on and charging for usage) and customorons (who would swear on anything that a password was not needed to access their AOL Mail...EVER)
    When I finished work, I'd go home and play some more
    Eventually, I'd need sleep so I'd go to bed, thinking of the game while waiting for unconsciousness.
    Once asleep, I would, no kidding, have dreams which took place in or were heavily influenced by the game.
    In one obsessively driven period I stayed awake for 8 days (192 hours), sleeping a grand total of 14 hours (mostly at/on my keyboard)
    I quit the game a couple of years ago (which included a very difficult period of withdrawal) and have avoided such intensive game addiction since....
    Nowadays, I work late at night (start at 1900, finish at 0530) and even though I don't often play RPG's anymore, I still sit up, frittering away many an hour browsing and peregrinating around the Net, long after I should be sleeping (e.g. yesterday (Tuesday), I went to sleep around 1430).

    Computer addiction and Gaming addiction, both grossly underestimated, have been a problem for years. The growth of easily-accesible, high-speed, affordable Net Access amplifies this problem.

    If you don't believe me, just try and imagine how you would feel if Internet access was, involuntarily, unavailable for a week...or a month....
    Or how about this....It's December 23rd and your computer is Fubarred...
    Painful? Agonising? Torturous?

    Internet Addiction is too often ignored or discredited. Surely, by now, it should be included in the DSM???
    If no-one else, I reckon this guy [bbc.co.uk] would agree
  • this goes waaay back (Score:3, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @08:52AM (#14723517) Homepage Journal
    in the 90's I was in college and had access to mainframe terminals all over campus. (VMS Vax) The internet was just getting off the ground. Mozilla was the only web browser and only on the macs, and Lynx was still more popular. The only online games were called "muds". (Multi User Dungens) These were text based multiuser games, a bit like Zork if you can remember that game.

    I got involved in a popular mud of the day, and soon found I was spending hours a day playing the game. I'd made quite a few friends in the game and was well known among the major players. Muds penalized you for logging out because any inventory or money you had on your character when you logged out, you lost. This included equipment. (armor, weapons, etc) You'd spend the next hour when you logged back in getting decent equipment to continue your gaming. So it was to your advantage to play for the longest possible continuous sessions. There were people that appeared to spend their entire day, most every day, playing the mud, because you could login at almost any time of day and find certain people always there in game.

    I didn't have the greatest motivation at the time to go to certain classes, and found myself skipping some class to play the muds when I didn't feel like going to class. One day I arrived in the lab at 8am and left the lab at 4pm, having skipped all my classes that day. Then it just hit me like a lightning strike.... this was not good for me. So I signed back on, said my good-byes, and logged out. I have not played a mud since that day. (I guess you could say I quit cold turkey?)

    Many things have changed since then, but many things are still the same. The muti user online games can be very addictive and provide a tempting escape from reality for a few hours a day. Those that lack the willpower to self-regulate their activities will probably find themselves in the same situation I put myself in so many years ago.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @10:29AM (#14724021) Journal
    I'm sure it will stop being considered an "addiction" by the mass media companies (ahem, I mean "objective news organizations" of course) as soon as they can figure out a way to (re)capture those eyeballs reliably for advertising revenue.

    You mean someone has given up their 8-hour-a-day TV watching in favor of a 8-hour-a-day internet experience? They MUST be addicted.
  • by pileated (53605) on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @11:56AM (#14724729)
    I'm sure for some people computers are an addiction in the sense that they really do get very nervous if they can't get on a computer for their daily fix, whether the fix be email, internet, games whatever.

    But for vast majority of people the internet is just like TV, another form of passive entertainment. TV gives us many dumb sitcoms but it also gives us sports, news talk shows, educational shows. They're all entertainment for various audiences. And people will get more back out of some than others.

    My complaint about computers, which happen to be my job by the way, is that they're still pretty much a passive form of entertainment just like TV. So I get more out of reading a book than watching a movie, building a table than watching Norm Abrams show me how to build one, or going out birdwatching rather than watching a PBS show on it. In my experience active entertainment is always more rewarding than passive entertainment.

    Though there are times when I don't really have the energy for active entertainment and passive entertainment is just what I need. But the problem with passive entertainment, whether it's computers or tv, is that it's very easy to choose more of it rather than get up and get involved with active entertaiment. Sort of like "you can't eat just one of them" in an old snack commercial. That gets a bit close to "addiction."

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team

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