It's Official...

Robert Hettinga rah at
Tue Aug 19 08:05:55 PDT 1997

The ganglia, as they say, twitch...

Bob Hettinga
--- begin forwarded text

Date: Tue, 19 Aug 1997 10:20:16 -0400
From: rah-web <rah at>
Reply-To: rah at
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: Robert Hettinga <rah at>
Subject: It's Official...

                        August 19, 1997

                  It's Official: Net Abusers Are
                  (08/13/97; 7:00 p.m. EDT)
                  By Evan Schuman, TechWire

                  CHICAGO -- Another yardstick of
                  success will be achieved by the
                  Internet community on Thursday: It
                  will be awarded its first official
                  mental health disorder.              For Related
                  The newly identified disorder will
                  be dubbed Pathological Internet Use  Fatal
                  (PIU) and will be christened during  Distraction? --
                  the presentation of a major medical  Learning The
                  paper at the annual convention of    Signs Of Online
                  the American Psychological           Addiction--HomePC
                  Association in Chicago.
                                                       We're Becoming
                  The term is being coined by Dr.      Cyber
                  Kimberly Young, an assistant         Junkies--Electronic
                  professor of psychology at the       Engineering
                  University of Pittsburgh at          Times
                  Bradford, in Bradford, Pa. With her
                  paper's presentation, the APA will
                  classify excessive Internet use as
                  addictive, in the same way that
                  drugs (including alcohol), gambling,
                  video games, and some types of
                  eating disorders are today
                  officially considered addictive.

                  Like those other ailments, Internet
                  addiction starts when the rest of
                  the person's life starts to fall
                  apart, the paper stated. The
                  Internet is a fine hobby or work
                  tool, until it causes problems with
                  social partners, work, or school,
                  Young said.

                  Young studied 396 cases of
                  PIU-afflicted people and drew some
                  overall conclusions.

                  Net marketers need not fear, as
                  traditional Web surfing accounted
                  for only 7 percent of the Internet
                  addicts and even more
                  information-oriented tools (gophers
                  [Image] and FTP[Image] sites, for
                  example) represented only an
                  additional 2 percent.

                  "Upon examination, traditional
                  information protocols and Web pages
                  were the least utilized compared
                  with more than 90 percent who became
                  addicted to the two-way
                  communication functions: chat rooms,
                  MUDs [Multi-User Dungeons],
                  newsgroups, and E-mail," Young said.
                  "This makes the case that database
                  searches -- while interesting and
                  often time-consuming -- are not the
                  actual reasons Dependents become
                  addicted to the Internet."

                  Young said one surprise in the
                  results was the lack of high-tech
                  people among the addicted. "While it
                  is a common perception that those
                  addicted to the Internet are
                  computer savvy individuals, these
                  demographic results show that only 8
                  percent came from high-tech jobs,"
                  she said. "Compare this to the 42
                  percent who indicated having no
                  permanent jobs and the 39 percent
                  who worked in low-tech fields. It is
                  typically newbies who become
                  excessive Internet users."

                  Among the jobs that she classified
                  as low-tech were secretaries, bank
                  tellers, teachers, advertising
                  executives, and journalists.

                  The report said that the attraction
                  of the Internet revolves around its
                  perceived anonymity, where people
                  feel comfortable acting out in ways
                  they would never consider in real

                  "The ability to enter into a
                  bodiless state of communication
                  enabled users to explore altered
                  states of being that fostered
                  emotions that were new and richly
                  exciting," Young said. "Such
                  uninhibited behavior is not
                  necessarily an inevitable
                  consequence of visual anonymity, but
                  depends upon the nature of the group
                  and the individual personality of
                  the online user."

                  "For those who felt unattractive, it
                  was perceived easier to pick up
                  another person through cybersex than
                  in real life," she said.

                  But beyond sexual issues, newsgroups
                  and chat lines allow people to
                  literally create and secretly test
                  new personalities before trying them
                  out in the real world. "Beyond
                  amusement, reinventing oneself is a
                  way to fulfill an unmet need. The
                  loss of a social identity online
                  allows one to reconstruct an ideal
                  self in place of a poor
                  self-concept," Young said. "Those
                  who suffer from low self-esteem,
                  feelings of inadequacy, or frequent
                  disapproval from others are at the
                  highest risk" of becoming Net

                  She quoted one participant in the
                  survey as telling her, "By day, I am
                  a mild-mannered husband, but at
                  night I become the most aggressive
                  bastard online."

                  The addiction can become a problem
                  when the new emotional creation
                  makes inroads into real lives or
                  when the time spent in the virtual
                  life takes away from
                  responsibilities in the real life.

                  The addicted Internet user will
                  spend an average of 38 hours per
                  week online dealing with
                  nonemployment/nonacademic efforts,
                  compared with "nonaddicts" in the
                  survey who averaged eight hours.
                  Almost half of the participants
                  diagnosed with PIU reported that
                  they get less than four hours of
                  sleep per night due to late log-in

                  Another reason for some of the
                  addictions is the sense of community
                  that some newsgroups create. "With
                  routine visits to a particular group
                  (chat area or newsgroup, for
                  example), a high degree of
                  familiarity among other group
                  members is established.

                  Like all communities, the cyberspace
                  culture has its own set of values,
                  standards, language, signs, and
                  artifacts, and individuals adapt to
                  the current norms of the group,"
                  Young said.

                  "One can easily become involved in
                  the lives of others almost like
                  watching a soap opera and thinking
                  of the characters as real people,"
                  she said.

                  Young's report said that this is
                  especially attractive to people who
                  might find it difficult to establish
                  other social circles. "Homebound
                  caretakers, the disabled, retired
                  individuals, and homemakers have
                  limited access to others," she said.

                  Internet addiction centers have
                  already been created at facilities
                  ranging from the University of
                  Maryland at College Park to Proctor
                  Hospital in Peoria, Ill., to Harvard
                  affiliate McLean Hospital.

                  The test group broke down into 157
                  men and 239 women; the average age
                  for the males was 29, and the
                  average age for the women was 43.


                   Do you:

                     1. feel preoccupied with the Internet (i.e.,
                        thinking about the Internet when offline)?

                     2. feel a need to use the Internet with increasing
                        amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?

                     3. have an inability to control your Internet use?

                     4. feel restless or irritable when attempting to cut
                        down to stop Internet use?

                     5. use the Internet as a way of escaping from
                        problems or of relieving a poor mood (i.e.,
                        feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or

                     6. lie to family members or friends to conceal the
                        extent of involvement with the Internet?

                     7. jeopardize or risk the loss of significant
                        relationship, job, educational or career
                        opportunity because of the Internet?

                     8. after spending an excessive amount of money on
                        online fees, often return another day?

                     9. go through withdrawal when offline (e.g.,
                        increased depression, anxiety, etc.)?

                    10. stay online longer than originally intended?

                   Individuals who met four or more of these criteria
                   during a 12-month period were classified as dependent.

                   Take the full survey, and find out if you're addicted
                   to the Net.

                   source: the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

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--- end forwarded text

Robert Hettinga (rah at, Philodox
e$, 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
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