[A] leading expert in the field is Dr. Maressa Hecht Orzack, the director of the Computer Addiction Study Center at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. She opened a clinic for Internet addicts at the hospital in 1996, when, she said, "everybody thought I was crazy."Well, playing computer solitaire obsessively really is a problem. But just strip it out of your computer and move on. You won't get the shakes or anything. If you're at the point of spending a lot of money or checking into an institution to cure your problem, step back and reason it through. You could simply get rid of your internet connection or your computer and eliminate the problem. The same applies to the "addiction" to watching television. You always have the option to remove the TVs from your house. Then you'll need to find something else to do. Don't plunge into indulgent notions of yourself as weak and diseased.
Dr. Orzack said she got the idea after she discovered she had become addicted to computer solitaire, procrastinating and losing sleep and time with her family.
"I think using the Internet in certain ways can be quite absorbing, but I don't know that it's any different from an addiction to playing the violin and bowling," said Sara Kiesler, professor of computer science and human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. "There is absolutely no evidence that spending time online, exchanging e-mail with family and friends, is the least bit harmful. We know that people who are depressed or anxious are likely to go online for escape and that doing so helps them."Yeah, I agree with Kiesler. Or maybe you just think I just haven't gotten to the first step of admitting I have a problem. I think if you find yourself passionately absorbed in something, the question should be whether it is a good thing, not whether you are passionately absorbed.
It was Professor Kiesler who called Internet addiction a fad illness. In her view, she said, television addiction is worse. She added that she was completing a study of heavy Internet users, which showed the majority had sharply reduced their time on the computer over the course of a year, indicating that even problematic use was self-corrective.
She said calling it an addiction "demeans really serious illnesses, which are things like addiction to gambling, where you steal your family's money to pay for your gambling debts, drug addictions, cigarette addictions." She added, "These are physiological addictions."