Over one in eight American adults may have signs of internet addiction, say researchers from Stanford University, USA. In fact, 8% are so obsessed that they hide their habits from their partners.

Signs of internet addiction can include compulsive checking of your e-mail and chat rooms, as well as habitually checking out web pages. There is even an internet addict stereotype. He is male, white, has a college education, is in his thirties and spends over 30 hours each week on the computer for ‘non-essential’ use.

In this study, the researchers telephoned 2,513 members of the public, each person was talked to for an average of 11.3 minutes.

The researchers said that the internet, a wonderful resource, also has its downside – it is creating real problems for a subset of people.

Internet addiction has brought with it clinics offering therapy to get you weaned off – there is even one in Beijing, China.

Whether or not the internet is the cause of the compulsion, or a reflection of a different problem, the researchers could not say.

The survey found that:

— 14% of respondents found it hard to abstain from internet use for several days
— 5.9% said excessive internet use affected their relationships
— 8.2% said the internet was a means of escape from the real world
— 3.7% felt preoccupied by the Internet when offline

“Potential Markers for Problematic Internet Use: A Telephone Survey of 2,513 Adults”
Elias Aboujaoude, MD, MA, Lorrin M. Koran, MD, Nona Gamel, MSW, Michael D. Large, PhD, and Richard T. Serpe, PhD
CNS Spectr. 2006;11(10):750-755
Click here to see abstract online

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today