Americans Addicted to the Internet
More than one in eight American adults show signs of Internet addiction, according to a new study. Signs include spending an inordinate amount of time each week on non-work-related Internet use, hiding Internet use from a partner, and using the Internet as a form of escape.
Of more than 2,500 respondents to a phone survey, nearly 14 percent said staying away from the Internet for several days is difficult; nearly 6 percent believe their Internet usage hurts their relationships.
The October 2006 issue of CNS Spectrums: The International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine reported that the typical afflicted person, a college-educated single white male in his 30s, spends around 30 hours a week on non-essential Internet use—over four hours a day—and suffers “significant” problems as a result. That’s a fairly severe definition of addiction; how many Internet users spend less time online yet still exhibit addiction-related qualities?
The study cited a 2002 survey in which six out of 10 American companies had disciplined employees for misusing the Internet, and over 30 percent had fired employees for that reason.
According to the lead author of the study, Elias Aboujaoude, problematic online usage takes many forms. “Not surprisingly, online pornography and, to some degree, online gambling, have received the most attention—but users are as likely to use other sites, including chat rooms, shopping venues and special-interest websites,” Aboujaoude said. “Our survey did not track what specific Internet venues were the most frequented by respondents, but other studies, and our clinical experience, indicate that pornography is just one area of excessive Internet use” (DailyTech, Oct. 18, 2006).
A bbc article quoted Aboujaoude as saying, “The issue is starting to be recognized as a legitimate object of clinical attention, as well as an economic problem, given that a great deal of non-essential Internet use takes place at work” (Oct. 18, 2006).
The Internet has opened up unprecedented resources for research and human connectivity, but, like all technology, it comes with dangers. Scripture enjoins, “Let your moderation be known unto all men” (Philippians 4:5). Allowing ourselves to fritter away hours in worthless—or worse, destructive—pursuits is failing to obey the biblical command to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).