Internet addiction

According to this story in Information World, an IBM employee fired for visiting Internet chat rooms during working hours, is now suing the company. He claims that his behaviour was the result of an Internet addiction, and that the company should have offered him counselling rather than sacking him.

There are a few additional elements to the story which you can read at the link if you are interested, but I was struck by the last paragraph:

"In a study released last month, the Stanford University School of Medicine found that one in eight Americans exhibited signs of possible Internet addiction. Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, the study’s lead author, said in a statement, "We need to consider the fact that [the Internet] creates real problems for a subset of people."  "

13 thoughts on “Internet addiction

  1. Erg. We Americans are simply too litigious and irresponsible. What was this guy thinking? Counseling? You screwed up, you were fired, you need to move on. Give me a break.

  2. hmmm – i get pangs of guilt if i look up where i need to go on streetmap whilst I’m at work. i don’t think i’d have the balls to actually spend time in a chat room…
    i can definitely understand that people might get addicted to the internet (i think my stepson suffers from it!), but i don’t think i’m one of them 🙂

  3. I think you have to be either very young, very old or boring to be addicted to the internet. I fall into the last two categories.

  4. I was addicted for about the first two weeks of discovering the Internet. Then it wore off. Now I guess I see it more as a way to fill the gaps of the day — and, yes, often the work day. My particular job has long periods of waiting around with nothing to do (waiting for reporters to file their stories, quite bluntly) and surfing the Net is an instructive and entertaining way to spend the time.

  5. Hey, Dave — I agree with you. Carpal tunnel ain’t got nothin’ on Delirium Tremens!
    Furthermore, the article says that, like alcoholics, people go on the ‘Net for the temporary pleasure it provides. Difference (not mentioned in the article) is that afterwards the ‘Net dipper is not drunk, hungover, or out of control. I doubt if Web surfers routinely have blackouts, spend too much on their “temporary pleasures,” or wreck relationships because of them. For most Internet users, there isn’t such a negative consequence to web surfing — unless, of course, one is gambling online or hitting porn sites. That’s a whole different kettle of fish, but the article did not qualify its argument.

  6. An internet addiction can be damaging in other ways, though. Before I discovered blogging I was pretty addicted to Amazon (one of my very first post was called Amazonaholics), having a little peek most evenints — which can be extremely expensive, especially if you’ve had a glass of wine first and start clicking away.
    Blogging is far cheaper!
    (I write jestingly, but one does read occasional shock horror news stories about some teenager who has got a parent’s visa details and is spending millions on online gambling or flying off to Acapulco….

  7. As someone who knows what it is like to be given a shot in a lockup detox ward so as to prevent convulsions, I must say I doubt if Internet addiction quite measures up to the Big Time.

  8. Of course, Frank, Susan and Dave, I agree completely that a physical addiction is a lot more serious than too much time on the internet.

  9. But Maxine, you error on two points: You are not too old. Believe me, and I’m a good deal older than you are. Second, you are anything but boring.

  10. Ever the gentleman, Frank. “A wee bit” older, I’ll grant you. Thanks for the encouragement.
    I guess I won’t be going on a Ray Milland- style downwards internet-fuelled spiral, thanks to my blog. And you guys in the comments.

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