Well, it's official, and it even has it's own acronym: IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder)
According to some experts, online activity can be as addicting for some people as alcohol or drugs. The research is so new that it is still difficult to diagnose or treat:
..Some theories to explain addiction disorders are rooted with behavioral explanations, psychodynamic and personality explanations, sociocultural explanations, and biomedical explanations...The behavioral view is that the individual functions under B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning...In which the subject can either be rewarded positively, negatively, or be punished for their course of action. An example of it would be an individual who has always been too timid to met new people and make acquaintances. For this individual the Internet would represent the means to experience love, hate, satisfaction, and fulfillment without interacting face to face with another perso...A rewarding experience that could become reinforcing in itself.
...The people who log on to utilize the chat rooms are evidently looking for social acceptance, while the ones who create a role playing persona are eager to be accepted as themselves...Yet the primary step to take in the path to recovery is to accept and not refute, a defense mechanism mentioned by Freud Sigmund called “denial,” that one might be undergoing Internet Addiction. Once this obstacle is conquered the treatment can be performed healthier than it would have otherwise been with patients who rejected they suffered from any kind of disorder....(more on AllPsych)
What, exactly, consitutes a web-addiction is still a bit subjective (How web dependent are we? Internet addiction by the numbers.) The Center for Net Addiction has provided a quiz for web users to take to find out if they may be addicts.
Of course some people aren't taking this so seriously. For most of us, this "addiction" can be cured by shutting off the computer, going outside, and meeting someone.
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Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.