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Might As Well Face It, You're Addicted

The human brain constantly seeks rewards. Sometimes that reward-seeking gets out of hand in the form of addiction. We're all familiar with addiction to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs, but some people now believe there's an new addiction: The Internet. Now there's a rehab for it.
The human brain constantly seeks rewards. Sometimes that reward-seeking gets out of hand in the form of addiction. We're all familiar with addiction to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs, but some people now believe there's an new addiction: The Internet. Now there's a rehab for it.The first Internet addition treatment center has a somewhat corny name (ReSTART), and is located not too far from Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington. The center attempts to deal with users that spend too much time playing Internet games, looking at their iPhones, or just generally cruising the Internet for hours on end with no fixed goal.

I am sure that there are people who spend too much time looking at the Internet. I've also seen plenty of cases where users go to conferences and spend all the time looking at their phones or computers rather than interacting with each other. Why bother going to a physical conference if you're not going to interact with the people around you?

Although that kind of Internet usage is anti-social in the true sense of the word, it isn't necessarily addictive behavior. There is a site, netaddiction.com, that addresses the danger signs of destructive behavior related to the net. The warning signs aren't that different than any other type of addictive behavior: losing track of time during the activities, foregoing personal relationships, lying about how much time you're spending or what you're doing online, etc.

Even so, the Internet has changed everyone's expectations. It would be highly unusual for many people to go a whole 24 hours without checking email, cruising the Internet, tweeting, and texting, yet we wouldn't label most of them as addicted. As a practical matter, a lot of people can't go "cold turkey" on Internet usage either, because their jobs depend on it. Like me, for example. I could quit anytime I want, but I need it for work. Riiiight.