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Addicted to the net? Watch for these signs

November 2, 2009

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What parents should look for

Excessive Internet use can interfere with a child's daily life and affect mental and physical health, Dr. Michael Rich of Children's Hospital Boston says. These are signs of problematic Internet use.

Does your child spend more time online than agreed or intended?

Does your child object to or have difficulty ending an Internet session?

Does your child object to accessing the Internet in shared family space (like the family room)?

Is your child secretive or defensive about his Internet use?

Have your child's grades gone down?

Is your child neglecting homework, chores, or family meals?

Have your child's friendships and time spent with friends decreased?

Has your child's personal hygiene deteriorated?

Is your child sleepy or spaced out?

Is your child more irritable, depressed, or distracted when not online?

Source: The Center on Media and Child Health at www.cmch.tv/mentors_parents/internet_addiction.asp

What adults should ask themselves

Hilarie Cash, executive director of the ReSTART center for Internet addiction near Seattle, says answering yes to four of these questions might mean abuse; five would suggest addiction.

Are you spending increasing amounts of time on computer and Internet activities?

Have you tried and failed to control your behavior?

Do you get a heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities?

Do you crave more time on the computer and the Internet?

Are you neglecting friends and family?

Do you feel restless when not online?

Are you being dishonest with others?

Does your computer use interfere with your job or school performance?

Do you feel guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result?

Has your sleep changed?

Have you had physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome?

Have you withdrawn from other pleasurable activities?