Are you addicted to the internet?

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Are you spending endless hours on the web? Is the internet slowing down your social life? If so, you might be addicted to the net. But, you're not alone, and now there's help. The Restart Internet Addiction Recovery Program is now up and running in the state of Washington, treating people who believe they are abusing the internet. But, can someone really get addicted to the internet?

"I think it's a problem," said Dr. Wade French, a professional councilor. "I've seen people that it's damaged their relationships - their ability to get along with others."

"I think we see evidence of it down here at the library," said Chris Albertson, librarian for the City of Tyler Library. He says there are a slew of regulars who, on a daily basis, spend hours on end at the public library on the web.

"There are people who come in first thing in the morning when we open, and they sign up for the machines," said Albertson, "then some of those same people are here when we close in the evening. There's no question - the internet has revolutionized the way we communicate with one another. Most cell phones have access to e-mail, and the internet. And, millions of Americans are signed up on social networking sites like MySpace, Twitter and Friendster. But, for so many American, the hours spent online is becoming a detriment for so many families."

Dr. French says in just the past year, he has treated some 20 patients claiming that the internet is interfering with their personal lives. They are participating in online sports, chatting and gaming, to name a few.

"Well, when you're doing that, you're not interacting with your wife or your kids or your husband," said French.

According to the re-start addiction recovery program in Washington, as much as 10% of the U.S. population is dependant on some aspect of the internet.

"Their employers are jumping on them because [when] they're at work, instead of using the internet to work with, they're playing games or talking to people all the time," said French. "They don't seem to be able to get off of it. They can loose their job, and they need to go talk to somebody about this."

Technically, there is no formal recognition of internet addiction. But, doctor's say if you have consistent strong desire's to use the internet, or if you experience restlessness or a decrease in your mood when you're not on the net, check in with a councilor. Talking about it can help.

To learn more, go to the Internet Addiction Recovery Program.

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