Drug Internet
Internet addicts don't have time for folders and papers

Deutsche Welle
March 11, 2003

Internet addiction is rampant. For those affected, the consequences of their dependence include loss of job and social degradation. One million people have been affected in Germany alone.

They operate all night long, call themselves "JoeCool," "kreech" or "juliese", they know their chat partners better than their own children, spouses and friends. At the end of the line is loss of job and social disconnection. We're talking about the Internet.

Over a million people in Germany alone are thus affected, as Andre Hahn of the Research International marketing research agency explained. Two years ago he produced a study for Humboldt University in Berlin, which found that 2.67 percent of all online users in Germany showed acute manifestations of Internet addiction. "That rate has not changed as of today, however the number of Internet users has increased from 25 to 30 million," said the researcher in an interview with DW-WORLD. [DW: Deutsche Welle]

Flat rates lower hurdle

As a rule, those affected display the same symptoms: they spend an increasing amount of time on the Internet, and neglect their family, friends, school and work. Separation from spouse and loss of job are often the consequences. Until the introduction of flat rates, those affected ran up astronomical telephone bills past the point of their ability to pay. "The flat rate has somewhat alleviated the financial risk for addicts. On the other hand, a hurdle to availability has been greatly lowered. The drug is more easily accessible," said Andre Hahn. If Internet addicts don't have access to the Net, they exhibit psychic withdrawal manifestations: they lose concentration, become nervous and irritated to the point of aggression.

Chatting til the early morning hours

Gabriele Farke says she was addicted to the Internet for over two years. At first the learned industrial buyer surfed occasionally from her office. Then she bought her own computer and surfed for several hours a day after work. "The Internet took up more of my time than my family did," said the 47-year-old woman in an interview with DW-WORLD. Farke spent hours in chat rooms holding discussions til the early morning hours, using a pseudonym to converse with supposed acquaintances whom she felt understood her better than did her own friends.

In retrospect, Gabriele Farke describes the chat as a "superficial skirmishing". Farke's addiction was typical: she lost social contact, her daughter felt neglected and moved out at age 18, Farke lost her job and today she is still suffering the financial consequences of her past telephone bills. In 1996 she wrote a book on Internet addiction and in 1999 founded a self-help organization for Net addicts. She said that writing the book also helped her with her addiction.

Internet addiction as a form of gambling addiction

Psychologists and psychiatrists continue to investigate the actual causes and forms of Internet addiction. Werner Platz, psychiatrist at the Free University of Berlin, had been conducting therapy with Internet addicts for several years. He sees Internet addiction as a form of gambling addiction, but behind which lie mostly other psychic disturbances, depression, for example.

It's clear that Internet addicts come with a pre-existing susceptibility for addictive behavior which can re-exert itself if the underlying reason for it has not been treated with therapy. Addicts should reduce the time they spend on the Net little by little, while seeking verbal therapy. Once they get over Internet addiction, however, there are already new addiction traps set for them in the world of information technology. Several thousand people are already suffering from SMS* addiction.

Oliver Schilling

*The Short Message Service (SMS) is the ability to send and receive text messages to and from mobile telephones. The text can comprise of words or numbers or an alphanumeric combination. SMS was created when it was incorporated into the Global System for Mobiles (GSM) digital mobile phone standard. -- http://sms.gt.com.ua/


October 18, 2001

Five Characteristics of Internet addiction

The Institut fuer Paedagogische Psychologie at Humboldt University in Berlin has listed the following as characteristics of Internet dependency:

1. Narrowing of field of behavior

Almost all waking hours are budgeted towards Internet-related activities (this includes many activities outside actually being on-line, such as optimizing the PC.)

2. Loss of control Attempts to limit Internet activity fail. Plans to alter behavior are never realized, despite the will to do so.

3. Tolerance increase

The amount of time spent on Internet activity steadily increases to the point of fully consuming all time available to a person (increase of dose), with which a loss of the sense of time is associated.

4. Psychic withdrawal manifestations

Long duration of interrupted Internet use leads to psychic effects (nervousness, irritation, aggression). On top of that comes a psychic requirement for continuation of the Internet activity.

5. Negative social Consequences

In particularly in the social areas of "work/performance", as well as social relationships, (e.g., being annoyed at employer, school, family, friends, and so forth).