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Are You Online More than 4 Hours a Day? 328

R3 sent us an interesting report that talks asbout Belgian psychologists claiming that using the Internet for more than 4 hours a day is addictive behavior, and should be treated like alcoholism or any other addiction. If they try to take my laptop away, I'll bite them: I'm not addicted, I swear ;)"
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Are You Online More than 4 Hours a Day?

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  • suits me. as long as the wards have PCs, 100BaseT, ......

    "Cake or death!" (E. Izzard)
  • Oh, you can definitely be addicted to books - though I think you'd have a hard time making a newspaper last four hours. Except maybe the Sunday editions, and newspapers not in your native language.

    "Cake or death!" (E. Izzard)
  • Well... Playing action quake2 is not exactly browsing the internet is it?
  • See BBC [] for a statistically more informative article.

    I request more info on the nature and effects of dopamine (which was not mentioned by BBC).

    This could explain certain behavioral patterns that I have, based on feelings reflecting (usually failure of) finding surprising news. Searching for news constantly feels most important. I sometimes pass getting to bed even if need for sex is expressed, to catch up work undone because of news hunt, but still fail to work for the same reason. Thus, I think a chemical addiction might apply to me.

    I still don't understand just why I start salivating when reading especially tech related news. What was the original trigger that connected this chemical reaction to the event of finding impressive news articles? Feeling of power through knowledge, hardly?

    If peoples behaviors are this easily activated, well... Who controls the nanomachines, controls not only the world, but peoples feelings and behavior as well. Hmm (mental note: reread end of Diamond Age). Might explain certain history events. Scary that civilizedness is no protection. Actually the particular chain of, er, psycho-chemical events is likely an essential part of it. (Mental notes: nothing new, be more conscious that feelings are chemical and do control behavior.)

    YaSAD (Yet another /. Addicted Developer)
  • you'll find something to be addicted too. Internet, gambling, drugs, sex, you name it. Because you use the Internet four or more hours a day does not mean you are an addict. But if you are addicted, you will likely use it for at least four hours a day.

    Personally I work on the Internet and a fair number of hobbies revolve around it, but I get bored with it sometimes. I don't have the attention span to become addicted to things :)


  • Well, I do it for ~7 hours a day, and if I try to go more than 24 hours without it, I start craving it.

    I'm much more addicted to oxygen though. If I go for more than 30 seconds without it, it becomes all I think of.

  • I was recently without a connection to the net for a few days and I was definitely going through withdrawl, I missed all the geeks here...I think. I think having an addiction to the internet is like having a dependancy issue rather than a true addiction. When you're not on you just feel disconnected, at least thats how I felt. Maybe I'm a hopeless addict, who cares. I don't badger people for being addicted to caffine or gambling.
  • Holy crap!
    only 7!?

    I sleep for hm... anywhere between 9 and 12 when on holiday....
    The rest of the time I'm on the computer though ;-)

  • If you do, you're probably addicted, eh?

    C'mon. The 'net is more of a *vehicle* for those of us who WORK here than an addiction. You might as well tell a truck driver he's addicted to the road!
  • It started out innocently enough, getting my email using a 14.4 modem. Then, it was reading /. and UF over a 28.8 internal. Before I knew it I was downlaoding mp3s and seti work units over a T1. Sorry, I have to go get a new kernel now.
  • PSYCHOLOGISTS say office workers hooked on sitting in chairs are mentally ill and need medical help.

    That means those who spend more than four hours a day in the office could soon be treated on the NHS like alcholics and gamblers.

    Top Brussels health advisers say new evidence shows constant sitting creates high body levels of fat, a lipid-like chemical linked to heart attacks.

    Now the EU psychologists are warning Scots GPs to brace themselves for a wave of new patients suffering from addiction to office chairs.

    Stars like Harvard president Neal Rudenstein and Microsoft CEO Bill Gates have already admitted to working binges. Gates gets up at 5am every day so he can cram in four hours in the office.

    But it is the growing number of ordinary workers with access to office cubicles who are causing most concern.

    The spread of cheaper and easier ways to get office jobs means that an increasing number of housewives and older people are getting hooked.

    The psychologists base their fears on alarming real-life case studies. One Florida mum recently lost her children in a court custody battle because she couldn't keep out of the office.

    Experts say up to 400,000 Brits may develop cubicle addiction in the new Millennium. A recent study of young people in the UK revealed that the problem often starts at college, where one in 10 students work for up to 16 hours a day.

    Dr Kimberely Young, a lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh who is advising Brussels scientists, said: "Until recently, it was regarded by some psychologists as a joking matter. But the increasing number of divorces in which it is cited as a cause of family break-up has changed this attitude."

  • This is a term I have detested, just like the term hacker it gets bent out of proportion. The first thing that comes to mind when I think surfing is someone riding a board on waves of WATER in the OCEAN or the like.

    If they mean looking at web pages, then thats about 1% of my total internet use. I can admit I sometimes spend up to an hour looking for a webpage with some of the search engins out their. Personaly I spend most of my time on IRC and chating with my friends. If this is under their umbrela of 'surfing' then why don't we consider communicating in general, addictive.

    Another thing is, I do not disconnect from the internet, I have a static IP and a 5 computer network at home. Granted I don't use the computers THAT much, but I have software projects on some of them, others used for serving webpages, one for serving the mp3's :). I do not consider my self addicted because I like getting away from the computers, and if friends are over they are more likely to use the computers than I.
  • I don't know if it's safe to assume this or not, but I'll be that a large number of /.'ers here work for some sort of computer related business, and spend a good deal of their time working on the internet in some form or another. My point is, we don't allow alcoholics in the work place, so should I then be fired, since by working at an ISP I spend 8 hours a day on the internet on average, and usually even more when I get home, and we can't have people with serious addictions working in this society, so therefore the internet is going to have to cease to exist as well. Sucks to internetism.

  • Another bogus study... Where do these turkies get the funding for this nonsense!

    The average home TV veiwing in the US exceeds 4 hours per day... how about a study on this!

  • I don't think they talk about reading news on the computer / net or a book. But rather that people start getting in to chats etc.

    That is something I even understand, I can imagine that somebody is simply reducing his contacts to computer people, as they are easier to deal with.

    Though the problem here is not the computer but rather the person itself.

    The problem I have with this research is that they generalise to much for my taste.

  • How wonderfully ironic that this story should be published on the net. The fact of the matter is that we are all addicts. Our brains operate off of chemical reactions. The more dopamine in the chemistry, the better we feel. Therefore our entire existence is built around getting dopamine. It's an easy concept for anyone who's programmed a reward based AI.
  • i'm online for way more than 4 hours a day, but when i cannot access the internet or something else because of where i am, or software problems, i don't go into withdrawal, i just do something else. heh so i'm a pseudo-addict.
  • well ive noticed a lot of people who use a computer more than 4 hours a day spends much less time than that watching tv. and vice versa. i think its a one or the other situation and doesn't really matter because who cares how you spend your time anyway? as long as you pay taxes i guess heh.

  • For a lot of us, the problem is that our jobs and hobbies are pretty much the same thing. I like administering Unix/Linux systems in my spare time, as it provides an intellectual challenge to me, so it's one of my favorite hobbies. As it happens, my job is that of a Unix sysadmin. So, for my job, I spend easily 8-20 hours a day online (I work from home). Most other careers don't correspond to people's hobbies. Can you see the McDonald's clerk flipping hamburgers in their spare time? Or, the surgeon cutting open his family just for the fun of it? Or, WORST OF ALL, the lawyer who does the same as a hobby? Run for the hills! :-) I can't say whether or not it's healthy, but I certainly don't view my life as living an addiction. If I could get paid what I do, without having a college degree, in any other field, I might be doing that instead of this.
  • How much time does the average American household spend watching TV on a daily basis? I would bet my K6-2 300 that it's more than 4 hours.
  • At the end of the article,
    "Dr Kimberely Young, a lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh who is advising Brussels scientists, said: "Until recently, it was regarded by some psychologists as a joking matter. But the increasing number of divorces in which it is cited as a cause of family break-up has changed this attitude."

    This is ridiculous. A healthy relationship isn't going to end because someone spends too much time online. This is just yet another means for people to blame someone or something else for their problems instead of taking responsibility for their own lives. Sheesh....
  • by cheese63 ( 74259 )
    What if it's part of your job? Are you then a work-aholic?
  • With more and more productive activity being performed over the Internet, I find it unfair to dream up an addiction for it. How much time did you spend at the library doing research for an account or a term paper? How much of that is now done over the Infobahn? How about shopping, chatting idly, watching porno flicks, e-mailing grandma, and getting your news? There is time being averted from these activities, yes, but the fact of the matter is, the time that was at first dedicated to these activites has not vanished, but has simply been displaced into a more productive ways of accomplishing the *SAME GOAL*.

    It seems to me that this so called *addiction* is a side effect of the explosion of computer usage in the world. A husband and wife drift apart and the husband uses his hobby (in this case, computers) to get away from the rigors of everyday life with his spouse. Instead of making love to his wife, he's working on a whiz-bang Alpha Linux box. Does the spouse blame it on the computer itself? Sometimes. But the Internet would probably catch most flack. If you're like most hardcore computer users, you've got some kind of connection to the Internet within your grasp, most of the time. Voila, the blame is put on it.

    And honestly, where would we be without it? Linux would have never come into existance. E-commerce, an ever growing strain of the business, would never come to be. Software would be traded in local user groups, the good stuff never getting outside the state it was made in. Without it, we would be in a much poorer state. And, I don't know about you, but most of my experience with people outside of the country (some with damn valid opinions) comes from the Internet.

    Sorry for the term paper, guys.

  • Maybe thats why I only have three machines for myself. Everyone does right?
  • you always talk about yourself in the third person simply because you like to hear your own name, or does it have some other purpose?
  • It's the other way around, people who spent less then 4 - 5 hours a day on the internet, should be considered mentaly handicapped. Besides, what if you have a perminant connection? Damn, doctors scared of technology.
  • Hey-- don't discount the research! Addictions are sometimes considered a DISABILITY... that might mean that if a official Internet addiction is recognized that it is possible to be considered disabled... in other words, most American hackers might be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and other Civil Rights laws... Simply put, it might be illegal for your boss to fire you for spending too much time online! Your addiction to the net might be protected under law! Hmmmm... think of the implications.
  • Ok, does that mean if i work more than 4 hours a day, i'm an addict as well?
  • I'm only about 8 hours a day and I'm only 13. When I'm at school, Its hard to think of much but the net!
  • I'm online about 8 hours a day and I'm only 13. When I'm at school, Its hard to think of much but the net!
  • And in Belgium we tell Dutch jokes...

    Funny... Didn't know the French joked about us. I thought they'd joke about the Germans or the English.

  • The big break I get off the Internet and computers in general are weekends in the summer(weather permitting). I drive back to my mom's place, and just do car restoration for several hours a day. Of course, when I'm done, I journal it on a website, pictures, diagrams and all. heh. Needless to say, it makes for a much-appreciated web site for others to reference off of.
  • will there be coffee at the Geeks Anonymous meeting?
    /me starts buzzing at the idea of caffiene.
  • I don't know how many people have posted similar stories. I've only read anything that was moderated over a 2 so I hope you'll forgive me.

    Anyway I was addicted. For me it was mudding. I was online every waking moment, if I could get away with it. My worst case was being online from about 9am to 3am the next morning. No breaks.

    I'm not exactly sure why I got hooked, maybe it was the game, maybe the people on line but I did get hooked. I recognized really early on I was addicted, even before the term Internet Addiction
    was known. At the time I thought I could stop if I just put in the will power to stop. I never stopped. :)

    I eventually got kicked out of University and told not to come back for a year or two.

    Sometime after getting kicked out things changed. I started spending less and less time on line. I stopped mudding. I think I just outgrew it. I didn't make any consious effort to stop I just stopped.

    Now days I like to have internet access and do spend time online but I'm not bothered if I don't have net access. In the old days I would have been crawling the walls within an hour.

  • Maybe it should read, if you're offline more than 4 hours a day...
  • There are several different types of addictions. I for one have a serious oxygen jones, but that's neither here nor there.

    I agree that there is such a thing as "too much Internet." There was a sound byte this morning on the radio about some kid whose father came home every night, went upstairs, and chatted with his friends online until all hours of the morning. That particular marriage is headed for divorce. That's certainly destructive behavior, but the odds are good that if the Internet didn't exist, people with a tendency toward that kind of addiction would end up being addicted to something else -- gambling, TV, tent revivals, whatever.

    There can be a good side to this sort of addiction. I joked earlier about my oxygen addiction. Take my O2 away and I get agitated. I had a friend back in my AOL days who regularly ran up $1000+ AOL bills because of the time she stayed online. I think it was silly, but it apparently gave her something she wasn't getting in real life. Her doctors agreed -- she'd been on a number of antidepressants over the years, none of which did much for her, and her depression went into remission when she was online. This particular addiction, much like mine, was keeping her alive.

    Many writers are addicted to writing. Robert Heinlein described a time when he quit writing and felt vaguely sick through the entire three week period. John Campbell sent him a manuscript to revise, Heinlein sat down to the typewriter and the malaise went away. Isaac Asimov wouldn't travel unless he could write (and never on a plane, of course).

    The point I'm making is that addictions can serve a physiologically, psychologically or socially useful purpose. Rather than an arbitrary number of hours a day, I would base a determination of whether an addiction was "bad" on what its results and consequences were. If you're on the net 12 hours a day hanging out in #linuxhelp while you're monitoring servers for an ISP, that's one thing. If you steal a credit card so you can pay your ISP bill, that's something quite different.
  • Yay - yet another study trying to seperate the masses into 'them' and 'us'. Sounds like the neo-luddites are back at it again.

    I'm on the 'net far more than 4 hours a day. It's kind of my job description. It's really hard to do remote server administration and development on a server without being connected to it.

    Plus, can you really call it an addiction when the results are usually positive? If you can, so what? Smoking and drinking are forms of addiction - I have yet to see masses of people gaining enjoyment, wealth-building employment, a great degree of education (ie. mental workout), and meaningful conversation out of a cigarette.

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • There are some things that Belgians should be locked up for, like your weird obsession with mussels and french fries with mayonnaise. What the heck is that all about?
  • I'm just curious. How long can you be disconnected from the rest of world before you get rather frazzled and out of sync. I say this because one of life's pleasures (for me at least), is to get away and out of contact. No internet, no phone, no fax, no TV, nobody can get in touch with you.

    I sometimes have to go out to sea to conduct research. In the earlier days, communication with the rest of world was extremely limited. In this type of environment one truly realizes who one truly wants to be in contact with. Everything else is a waste on bandwidth (and money).

    At work I sometimes disappear into the library to read journal articles. I grab a bunch of papers and disappear into the depths of the stacks.

    I use the internet a lot. But sometimes I just have to get away from everything and everybody. In this modern age of total communication and linkage, this can be one of life's last pleasures.

  • Thanks. I had a breakfast meeting this morning, and your succinct clarification of my feeble attempts at unravelling this conundrum has provided me with a deeper insight into the minds of my great leaders.
  • As a commmunity service, Rob should track us, send warnings, and then refer us to the proper agencies if we don't log in from another network address (indicating movement of some mild sort).

    This sort of passive health measure is the wave of the future...salt shakers that screech when moved, pictures of smoker's lungs on the cigarette package (which will include a free nicotine patch), pictures of smokers' lungs on Godiva and Ben&Jerry's ice cream packages. Utensils that analyse and resist picking up food that is "unhealthy". Elevators that only go to a landing between every other floor (thus always a half floor of stairs + faster elevators).

    Seriously, some little nag window to say, "Take a long focus break" would probably help some with that weird can't-focus-except-at-18-inches thing.

    Pets are good for that.

    (At burning man...what...a WEEK from now?)

  • The 5 hours/day figure for adult females seems to reflect the stereotypical stay-at-home mom who watches soap operas all day. I suppose there are still quite a few of them around.
  • 4 hours? That's it? Hahahah!

    I recall my days of being seriously addicted to MUDs and MUSHes. Now THAT was addiction. People walked into the lab and said `Hey, want some crack?' And I'de say `Want some MUSH?' Two hours later they'de be all jacked up on MUSH. 4 hours a day sounds like a good, well rounded number for those people who aren't connected. 12 ... that's when addiction should be considered.

  • History and social circumstances have given rise to many difficult and strange occurances happening because of lack of sensativity. Hitler for one was greatly misunderstood and turned to creating a sphere of friends who had views of people who were equally disinterested in life. I dare to bet that if he had the net he might have turned out better. Might even be quite the personable guy. Back in High School I spent much time surfing the net and screwing off. This cut into many areas of my life. I had neither the time nor the interest in many areas of my life. However because I am quite driven to not fail (never have failed a class once) I managed to do quite well. The knowledge that I gleaned from the web surfing morphed into my love for linux and computers in general. I am taking classes that will make me a CS major due to this exploration. So what do I think of people who poo poo the internet I say that they are not really CS majors or people who care for the future. Most people of the future will not be concerned with any aspect of face to face communication. Coders of today do not even have to meet employers now they can just use e-mail and cvs to do their work and their bosses can check on all of their work up to the minute without fail. If I do such transactions all day long and I code for 8-10 hours a day does that count me as an addict? I would think they mean screwing off then in this case this would mean that they think the all this cannot be productive. If we use logic we can infer that since corporations are the ones' producing all of the content (at least the content that individuals use on a daily basis) that these are things that do not count or are at least not beneficial to people who are healthy or of sound mind. How would this be different from real life where all content that matters in a capitalistic society is produced by corporations this would mean that this is also is of no consequence. In most circles of everyday people the said beliefs are associated with elitests. So what matters in society today doing somewthing well or doing something that is just impressive with regard to a sociel cause? What makes this group of people different from those who wish for death to humans to make the planet safe for all other life forms (they do exits apparently a very extreme group of environmentalists) In places such a europe where most forms of behaviour are tolerated in a more liberated fashion I can not easily believe that this can be said and not be contradicotry. How far are we away from a society that will pass laws preventing people from being anti-social, from moving away from an area unless the government approves, forced programs of anti-depressants and other mind altering drugs to make people always feel good? Not very long I shall say. The problem is that at the present there are too many who would resist changes such as these and are therefore instituting them slowly and subtly. I think that acts of a self destructive nature should be tolerated and allowed to let people enjoy an optimum life.
  • the term "kernel patch"! Maybe we need "net patches", give the user a feeling of having learned something 24/7 :P (whoops, that's what info-TV is for)

    Seriously... My employer pays me to sit in front of a PC nearly non-stop, and a goodly portion of that time is spent with, at the very least, a browser window under whatever I'm working on. By the time the weekend rolls around I'm sick of PCs, the internet, and everything with an interface more complicated than "on/off".

    My home PC hasn't been used for anything more serious than playing MP3s and checking the current status of the state lottery in about a year.

    Now, smoking on the other hand... THAT is an addiction. If I go 24 hours without getting some nicotine in my bloodstream, I go insane. If they outlawed nicotine tomorrow, I'd probably have to sell off my PlayStation to buy patches off the black market.

    That hasn't happened, though, and I'm happy to say that with the help of "The Patch" I've gone 2 weeks. It's been ROUGH.

    Next on the chopping block, CAFFEINE. This link says all:

    I can see one big internet-related problem... Ultima Online, the first graphical MUD. That game is addictive. Plenty of people have come out of it with tales of compulsion, carpel tunnel syndrome, and (for some european players) staggering phone bills. For what? A game whose quirky too-much-like-real-life-to-be-a-game rules force a player to use 4 of his 5 characters to get virtual JOBS to support the one character that goes out and has fun. I've seen people spend 40 hours doing mindless tasks on one character to support 2 hours of hack-n-slash on another. (tasks like: use axe on tree, use knife on wood, rinse and repeat until weight limit reached, sell items, deposit gold, rinse, repeat)

    I must say I agree with the addict-in-recovery that posted his tale of woe... Give meth, H, or even a prolonged course of codeine a try before you spout off about addiction.

  • I just subscribe to interesting ones that I may need in the future or are just interesting and then I can just delete the accumuliated messages and post to sladhdot and update my debian system and possible my kernel. All this keeps me on the cutting edge of what is happening in the world and prevents me from being alientated from the rest of humanity.
  • What the hell does "4 hours" of online time a day mean? If I leave the internet connection up that long, but only use it sporadically, does that mean I am addicted? If I log into my ISP at noon, read e-mail, then do nothing for an hour, then send an e-mail, then do nothing until 3:00 pm and then do some web surfing until 4:00 pm, does that count? This is a boneheaded metric to use to measure this. You can't just measure time spent connected, otherwise anyone with an 8-hour a day job at a company that is connected would be considered addicted. You have to measure actual usage of that connection, and that doesn't work either. If my browser 'uses' the connection to download a page in 10 seconds, and then I read that page for 10 minutes, I only used the connection for ten seconds. The rest of the time I was not 'using' the internet. Okay, so maybe you could measure the tinme spent by the user using internet-aware applications. Wait, nope, that doesn't really work either because there are many applications that are internet capable but for which the internet is not their primary purpose (like a file manager that can show you an FTP site with the same interface as your own hard drive, or a word processor that can export HTML to a web page.

    This study starts from the flawed assumption that there is some magic difference between being 'on-line' and not being on-line. There isn't. Not on real OS's which have been 'internet aware' since almost the dawn of the internet (Unix).

  • I haven't had a drink in 9 years and haven't missed it.
    I have never done drugs.

    I deny that I'm an alcoholic or a drug addict.

    Does that make me an addict? ;-)

  • I am sometimes on the net for 8-9 hours a day (yes I have had my fair share of girlfriends, one even *loved* the internet and she looked pretty good)...... and I have to symptoms of withdrawl at school or any other time when I am disconnected from my measly 56k connection (atleast I connect at almost 56k). I wish someone would perfect a wireless networking system so that if I get an adsl connection where I live I can put a small radio reciever on my roof and connect to the internet from my laptop when I am about 15 miles away from home in town. :)
  • yeah..kinda like saying track stars are running shoe addicts because they wear running shoes. Duh. Being a construction worker does NOT make you a hammer addict.
  • You could state this but think of just how could it work? If you work on a project that is important enough you could be terminated for creating a sufficent monitary loss for the company to cause alientation of it's stockholders. Plus this has not be verified by the government. Sounds like the time Homer Simpson tried to gain weight because he hated to excercise and do other extra work at SNPP, he then thinks that this will give him a dream life compared to others: very little substance. In short don't quit the hard work yet ok?
  • I surf a lot, AFTER I get home from work... I could really get into a big tirade about information and the advancement of mankind but I won't, just insert all sorts of visionary futurist tripe here, add the word meme a bunch of times and you've got it. ;) Anyway, it's non-destructive as far as I can tell, unlike drikning and gambling... You've gotta have passion for something, as long as it doesn't kill your liver and your credit rating.
  • If I spend 4 hours a day offline, does this mean thet I'm addicted to reality?
  • that's I have no symtops of withdrawl.
  • Hmm..some people spend lots of time at the gym...guess their addicts
    Some people spend lots of time commuting...addicts
    Some people spend lots of time sleeping...addicts
    Oh yeah...I've heard some people even spend 8 hours a day working! Omigod they need to check in to betty

    This is so stupid. I'm a software developer and have a permanent T1 connection. Does this mean I'm "on" the net all the time and hence a super-duper-whopper addict? I wonder if mister psychologist is a psychology addict.
  • um...slashdot munged "betty ford" to betty...
  • Hmmm, well that makes me an internet addict, and i don't even have an excuse, i don't use the net for work, i don't know what tcp/ip is, i don't know what ftp is, i don't even know what e-mail is... j/k
    but it also makes me a college addict (at least i'm supposed to spend four hours at college a day, when i'm not skipping classes to stay home and play on the net) it makes me a swimming addict..... hang on, i'm even addicted to sleeping !!! when i can drag myself away from the net long enough to crawl into bed.....
    hmm, i'm even addicted to sitting in this chair....

    blimy and all i thought i was addicted to was ciggerettes :o(

    AAAArrrrrrgggh.... ooohhh noooooo... they're coming to take me away haha hehe hoho !!!!

  • I heard that studies have shown that while a person watches TV, the human brain is LESS ACTIVE than if they were doing absolutely nothing at all. I have no formal proof of this study, but I do believe it... do you?

    "The voices in my head say crazy things"
  • Its scary if you think about it.

    Linux was mostly, if not all of it, was created by folks on the internet who spend more than 4 hours a day. So if any addiction can produce such a product as linux then, more power to the addicts!

    I spend about 6 to 10 hours a day on the internet and my pc, I learn new technologys as they happen. I'm a network admin, if I can't keep up with the new technologys except by reading dead tree publications, which most of them take 4 months to publish, what good am I to the company.

    If we have more people "addicted" to the internet see how much more they learn, you know they are at least going to be literate, and more users means more technology to give us bigger and badder technology.

    I can see folks addicted to IRC especally in the "fluff" channels. but if your in a channel with say other linux users decussing the latest programs or getting help in an area where your knowledge is lacking, I'm sorry I just cant see it as a bad thing.

    "Linux the OS written by and for internet addicts"
  • My favorite addiction is the addiction to Oxygen.

    Apparently, Oxygen is so addictive; that a single breath makes on addicted for life.

    However, Oxygen is extremly toxic. It has been found to kill people when its presence is measured at only 1 part per Million.

    It is extremly flammable. 100% of all fires since 1965 have been reported in the presence of oxygen.


    But I don't see anyone trying to ban Oxygen!?!

  • ok, ya got me :-) thanks for point that out, tho' I'm not sure I'll have as much strength as you to run around and shout - I'll probably be in the horizontal position by then ;-)
  • than the millions of people around the world that sit down in front of the TV for 4 hours + everyday? i havent heard any new articles about TV addiction.

    Oh shit i read the fuckin newpaper everyday -- i'm addicted i need some fuckin help. Is there a 12 step program?

  • Here are the things I DO do:

    go to school.
    go to work.
    go to the lake.
    go on-line. (muck, read news, keep in touch with friends)
    watch movies.

    Things I DON'T do:

    watch tv.
    read local news.
    listen to radio stations other than NPR.
    get lost in an alternate fantasy on-line.
    play massive amounnts of internet games.

    Do I spend more than 4 hours a day on-line?
    Do I spend more time on-line than school and homework?
    HELL NO! (heh, unless I'm not currently taking classes. *grin*)

    What's yer beef?

  • Let'em call me an addict - but I need Internet in my work! I get paid for it!
  • Split personality?
  • True Addicts don't Dial Up, We're ALWAYS connected!
    Hell, I'm on IRC at home right now, even though I'm at work.

    Kintanon 24/7 BABEE!
  • My Online Psychologist agrees with this article, he tells me that everytime I visit his Online Therapy Office for my four hour session.

    I think it's working, I'm only online for his sessions now.
    *Carlos: Exit Stage Right*

    "Geeks, Where would you be without them?"

  • Well since I live in the middle of no where, there isn't much I can do... It's pretty bad when you live in the D/FW area... It's an escape from boredom and it better than tipping over cows.
  • I once was not an internet addict. I once only checked my e-mail, maybe did some ICQing, and was done for the day. But then, one spendous day, I discovered THE WONDER THAT IS POKEY THE PENGUIN []. HOORAY FOR POKEY. HOORAY.
  • Addiction has nothing to do with the number of hours you spend doing something. An addiction can only be called as such if a habit creates a negative impact on the rest of your life, and you still keep doing it and can't give it up.

    The text of the study wasn't included in the article, so it is unclear what sort of claims are being made here.

  • So, I fire up Netscape and spend an hour and a half downloading the latest version of the program while taking a shower, eating breakfast, and watching TV. Then I download a couple of mp3's off Usenet over the next two hours while I go out. Then I come home and spent a half hour reading e-mail and checking out Slashdot. Under the vague definition given in this article, I'm an Internet addict. Yet I have spent very little actual time glued to my monitor.
  • This is one of the funniest things I have ever heard in my life. Now I'm not just shrugging this off because I do fit into this category (I use the internet well over 4 hours of time), hey, it does cut into other activities, but it is hardly an addiction. I use the internet as a means of gaining information, for communication, and, while I am currently unemployed, have used it as pretty much all of my job, having been a web master, and technical support. I could hardly consider something you use for your job to be an addiction, more of a tool. A very useful and educating tool actually. Many people talk on the phone more than 4 hours a day, as a result of their jobs, and I don't believe anyone would consider that addictive behavior, or if they talked on the phone for more than four hours a day NOT as a result of their jobs. Or reading a book, many people read books for more than four hours a day as well. In my personal opinion, I believe that these psychologists are simply attempting to grab on to the Internet bandwagon and use the fact that almost any nes, study, breakthrough, what have you which relates to the internet is almost instantly publicized, read, replied to, discussed, and then funded by somebody with a lot of cash who takes the whole thing hook line and sinker, in which case I would bet they will be rather successful. I'm not a psychologist, but I'm an internet user, and I could tell you that I can go just fine without using the internet, if my computer blew up, I would live on, I might not have a whole lot to do on those boring rainy days when nobody is home and there's nothing to do, but I wouldn't exactly be going through withdrawals. I believe if the internet was really addicting. I wonder how many hours a day these psychologists spend looking for new addictions... hope it isnt more than four, we might be looking at some kind of disorder!
  • That's a great story. I wish more schools taught that in grade 6.
  • I think it's eight hours
  • If I spent 4 hours a day smoking would I be addicted?
    Probably, but the goverment can't claim taxes from the Internet (Yet).

    They said that when people are on the internet they aren't spending time with their family, freinds etc.
    Well I got news for you, I don't take people to loo when I want a crap, it isn't a family afair.
    Am I being anti-social?

    This seems like a half assed report by EU Psychologists to try and acquire more funding.

    I like it when they say:
    'Experts say up to 400,000 Brits may develop Internet addiction in the new Millennium.'
    Hmm, 400,000 MAY (which means they MAY NOT) develop an internet addiction in the next 1000 years.

    Gotter go, I have to rob a off-license (Liquor Store) to pay for my phone bill :)

  • I've found doing computer tech support has done about the same to me... that and I have a strange urge to bludgeon any one using their CD-ROM drive as a cup holder.
  • Coincidently, I just returned from the APA (American Psychological Association) Annual Convention. As a doctoral student in clinical psychology my pet research interest is in psychology of / psychology on the internet, and at the convention I had the oppurtunity to see presentations of the leading American psychological internet researchers.

    And they can be just as clueless!

    Actually, that is a mild characterization of their research strategy. Stronger characterizations could portray them as irresponsible researchers or economic opportunists.

    Here are some of my criticisms of what I have seen / read (to substantiate the previous flammable commentary):

    1) use of very large Ns, 9k to 18k, which is very rare in psychological research. With such large Ns, it is very likely that minute numerical differences will be found statistically significant. (So it is more probable to falsely find differences between groups, and for errors to be made).

    2) most studies use Survey data, which is NOT scientifically rigorous! Surveys yield correlational data, which does not permit causal inferences. Common in this case: does internet use cause lonliness / depression, does depression cause internet use, or does something else (like lack of a car or geographic isolation) cause both? Survey data can not answer these questions.

    3) Many psychologists do not undertand / appreciate the culture of regular or heavy internet users. They discount social contacts formed and sustained via the internet. To most psychologists, real life has no substitute, and internet relations are worthless and misunderstood. (Sociologists seem to be much less clueless and seem to be ahead of psychology at this time).

    4) Two of the most prominent studies occurred exclusively on single sites, one on and one on

    One very real problem of this is selection bias, who do you know that regularly visits these sites? These sites cater to a specific audiece, and that audience may be VERY different from the rest of internet users, thus any results may not apply to people are not in those audiences.

    ...and, for those inclined to conspiracy theories

    I think I remember the msnbc study advertized on the cable tv channel. The researchers do not consider the possiblility of ballot stuffing (by, say, the Religious Right to defeat the porn-riddled internet demon; or by Internet widows, who entered info for their never-available husbands (sorry for the gender stereotyping).

    Not to mention net users (especially l33t kiddies) entering false info to screw with the researchers. Or possible effects similar to the /. effect.

    These researchers are also not technologically savvy, and they seemed to undertake rudimentary steps to prevent multiple entries / cracking, which may slant the results. (deleting cookies, ip-spoofing, yada yada yada).

    Wanna go way out there? NBC and ABC hosted / sponsored these studies, who have economic incentives to see the internet get a black eye.

    What about this Belgian study? Having not read the study, I can not speak directly to their research. But I know a little about Dopamine (DA), that makes me skeptical:

    1- DA is strongly implicated in subjective feelings of pleasure! (how cocaine works, and maybe sex). So People who are the internet alot are having fun? This must be a problem...

    2 - DA deficiency is related to Depression and Schizophrenia. Since researhcers have already claimed the internet causes depression, this coulbe be a contradictory finding.

    3 - It is unlikely (probably unethical) that this was an experimental study, where they manipulate internet usage (you must surf the nt for 4 hours now, begin); or DA levels. Thus, this may also be correlational data, mini critique as above #2.

    As may be evident, I am very interested in psychological and internet interactions. I am biased in favor of internet based communities, and computer mediated relationships. I am currently working on culturally sensitive internet research, and hope to present at the next Annual APA convention. So place my commentary in the appropriate context.

  • Hey, were these guys the same ones that said 4 hours on the phone was addictive?

    I work as an admin, and of course, I spend WELL over 4 hours a day on the net. I'm doing research, writing e-mail, reading e-mail, configuring things, etc.

    I know managers who use their phone for up to and over 8 hours a day doing things that take me half the time on the net. Isn't that addictive?

    Oh well, these guys probably pay exorbitant rates for the Internet, so maybe there's a price ratio. Perhaps X number of Belgian Francs = addiction.
  • Enough of the "I have to be on the net x hours a day, its my job!"

    We all know something is an addiction when it interferes with you responsibilities. Work is your duty, chill.

    Though there weren't any details, I'm sure they tried to use an average user, who is usually in an AOL chat room. That's a terrible waste of 4 hours, but I doubt its an addiction. Most people's existance is a complete waste, let em pretend they're lesbians named Brynn for a while.

    If it wasn't this it would be network TV.

  • In my opinion it seems to be a good thing... On the net, you can only view and digest so much mental fluf untill you begin happening upon news and intelligent articles... Does anybody remember when we were warned because our kids were not reading enough? what is it now? reading too much? I think that it's about time we focus on learning, and the net has a profound effect on that.
  • To start, to be addicted to something means that you do it despite bad consiquenses. Like the devorces and such. For some people, it may be an addiction, but most it isn't, because if something important calls, they can just ignore the internet, and they arn't thinking about surfing all the time. It is human nature to have the possibilitty of addition with anything that is high stimulation, and give pleasure. The researchers are right in saying that the internet can be addicting, but they worded it all wrong :).
  • I should know, I am online for considerably more than four hours a day (usually from 8-12). I also have a hard time leaving the net for days at a time. The hard time I have is that my boss starts charging my vacation time, or if I disappear too long, he'd stop paying me.

    Any study that takes an arbitrary length of time, and says "if you go past that line, you need help" is a joke. It's an attempt by some little known psychiatrist to get his name associated with a currently faddish syndrome. It does nothing to help identify the problem, it does nothing to help people who have a real problem, it just gets his name in the paper.

    There are real people who have serious net addictions, to the point where it destroys any part of their lives that isn't online. These people need help, not misguided studies.

  • At least for me, this is bullshit. Once a
    pollow time I used to read newspaper for
    about 90 minutes a day, watch an hour or two
    of TV, read a magazine and maybe some pages
    of a book. The only change now is, that I spent
    all this time together on the net, reading news,
    surfing entertaining sites, reading slashdot and maybe some online shakespeare (hey, I can even do that on my toilet - read othello there yesterday, just as I used to do with the books).
  • The three step program uses a microcomputer embedded into a patch, which you place on your bicep. It uses satillite phone technology to access the Internet and injects a healthy dose of packets into my bloodstream at intervals which decrease over time. Eventually my net addiction will be completely cured! (Sorry, I'm really frigging tired :)
  • You can only go for 30 seconds without Oxygen before it's all you can think about? Wow. I can go for 40-50 seconds usually =P

    But then I sleep for 9-11 hours a day, so...

  • I could believe that on the basis that individuals who are doing "nothing" are usually having several things within short term memory as well as possible day dreaming. This base activity is lessened when any task is occuring and so would make it less all around.
  • And what about those of us who use the internet 8+ hours a day at work? Does this qualify me as an addict? I think not.
  • Hmmm, yep I guess I must be addicted then. I dial up first thing in the morning before I do anything else, then on and off at work, then back on when I get home... And yes, after a day or two without access i get withdrawal symptoms..but they go away if I can find something better to do...

    Well that's my 2 cents worth...
  • I don't know about Slashdotters but I have a hard time leaving the net for days at a time. I have a lot of online friends on IRC and it really makes me lonely and bored to leave...

    I don't know... just think its not something to really joke about. It may be pathetic but some people really rely on the net for their happiness...


  • ... there are three types of net-addicts out there (and yes, I've posted something similar to this before): those addicted to convenience, those addicted to information, and those addicted to fantasy.

    The first type is the impatient I-want-it-NOW sort of person. Probably s/he's also got a cell phone and/or a pager, and gets real unhappy if the SO isn't in constant contact, or if the circle of friends isn't heard from at least twice a day. Mostly does things that s/he would be doing anyhow, but does 'em all online because it is (or seems) faster than more conventional methods. If the net connection goes down, they turn to the phone. If the phone is down, they might well drive out to see the people they maintain constant contact with.

    The second type (and I am admittedly one of them) probably has an obscure interest or several, and definitely has a lot of intellectual curiosity. If their net connection dies, they might get a little twitchy at first, but will probably search out a large bookstore or some other non-Net source of info. (And hey, I've been offline for 15 days because I was at Pennsic. No Internet hookup there! Didn't bother me much, but now I have to clean out Ye Olde Inbox.)

    The third type tends to be sort of the stereotypical net-junkie who lacks RL social skills. I also saw this a lot with gay and bi friends who were not comfortable being out of the closet IRL, and pagan friends who weren't comfortable with being out of the broom closet IRL. The 'net is a security blanket, and an excuse to avoid a reality perceived as unpleasant. They are the ones who are really lost if the plug gets pulled.

    To my way of thinking, the third type is the most self-destructive (though occasionally, the first type has other problems like being a controlling and even abusive mate).

    The main problem with type 2 net addicts like myself is that occasionally productivity goes out the window if we're off chasing after 17th century poetry or whatever (or reading /. for that matter). And of course it's not as clear-cut as all that; sometimes someone who started out as a type 1 or 2 ends up being a type 3, and sometimes type 3s end up finding local folks that they're comfortable with and revert to being one of the other types or even non-addicted.

  • Hmm.. in grade 6 I remember reading a story called "The Great Tomato Addiction." It went on and on with statistics about how 90% of the population was addicted to tomatoes. (95% of convicted criminals have eaten them, etc..) It also proved that tomatoes are really addictive too... when an addict is denied tomatoes, they invariably turn to other substitutes, such as potatoes, beef, etc. If an addict is denied tomatoes and all substitutes, they will die within a few weeks!

    Now that's a REALLY serious addiction problem! If "internet addicts" are denied their addiction, at least they don't die from it!

    This is one "study" I'm not going to take too seriously.
  • Hey, we may be addicted, but we're still running this country, so Nyaaaaah!

    Now if you'll excuse me, somebody called from the Metro Area Sanitarium and said they were having problems with their OC3...


  • Remember, people in glass houses shouldn't get stoned!
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Sunday August 22, 1999 @06:00PM (#1731397)
    The newspaper today had a summary of a recent study about TV usage in the United States. Weird coincidence.

    Anyway, they said the average is around 7.5 hours/day per household. The most TV-addicted demographic are adult females, who average around 5 hours/day of TV-watching, then adult males, who average around 4 hours/day, then kids under 12, who average around 3 hours/day and finally teenagers, who average around 2.75 hours/day.

    Overall, it seems that the adults who complain that kids these days watch too much TV need to look at their own habits first.
  • Yes, they only seem to be worried about addictions when it suits them. For example, love is one of the most addictive phenomenons in existance, yet psychologists, to my knowledge, have never warned against it or recommended mental help for those in love.

    Scientific studies have shown that being in love chemically much resembles substance addiction, and symptoms are similar as well, including irrational behavior, withdrawal, etc.

    To the metal ward with all internet users and lovestruck couples!
  • Well, not in America anyways. In Belgium I think they would.

    But then there is a lot of stuff you guys do daily that we would get locked up for here (double negatives...)
  • How does this relate to us who have connections 24hrs per day? I can't really relate to "use Internet more than 4 hours per day". I mean, it's so natural, it's just -there-. If I want to check the news, I might to over to the CNN web pages or Slashdot. I check my email constantly, but I'm not surfing the web more than half an hour per day, sometimes even less than that.

    Of course, I take part in online discussions more than three hours per day and I sometimes spend 14-16 hours every day programming and since I program on my server which is some 7 feet away from my workstation, and I connect to it using the Internet, I must be a real addict, right?

    I think these so called results and decisions they've made is inconclusive at best.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle