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Addicted to Internet?

Q. My husband thinks I am addicted to the Internet, because I use it for so many things. I don't go to chat rooms, but I shop on line and get information on line and I email friends and family on line.

When/how do I know if this is really a problem or if he is over-reacting? Thank you.

A.. Technology offers many new and often more efficient ways of doing things. I'll start out by suggesting in general that it would benefit people to determine their needs and then select the technology. Instead I think many people acquire the latest gadgets just because they're there.

Internet use can be "addictive"-- it can become such a focus that a person can let responsibilities go, more and more time is spent online, and it can be used as an avoidance maneuver.

So the questions to ask would include, do you spend more time than you intend to online? Does it make you late for your normal tasks or forget them or ignore them? Do you let it "run your life" instead of you choosing how and when to use it? Do you experience negative consequences, such as overspending ?

Harder to measure sometimes is whether cell phone, TV, PDAs and computer online use interfere with relationships. Your husband may be saying he wants more time with you. Has that changed since you've been using the internet? Do you have regular time without distractions to talk and connect?

Use of these technologies really can keep you from being fully present with people in your physical presence. And some people either purposely or without awareness use such distractions to avoid conflict and/or intimacy in their primary relationships.

For all such technology, it would be wise to put limits on the amount of time spent, and where and when you choose to use them. People should decide, for example, not to answer the home phone or a cell phone during family time, to use the silent feature, and to learn in general to put boundaries on their use.

If the adults in the home set such limits, it will be a good example for any children.

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Anne Cook Finnegan

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