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Monday, January 28, 2002

MagNETic addiction
Rishi Jain

MANY a times you might have come across a drug addict or an alcoholic but have you ever encountered an Internet addict. Yes, a Net addict! They are the by-products of our very own Net revolution. Netizens drooling over online material, women abandoning their rasois to cook something on the Net, students bunking classes to attend the chat-room lectures and people losing their life savings on gambling Websites - all this is just an preview of what is yet to come. Every coin has two facets. We have experienced the positives that have come out of the Net revolution. Now let us be prepared for the dark side.

Several psychologists have been fascinated by the emotional, psychological and social implications of this new addiction. Experts say that the unique aspect of the Internet is that it lures people into trouble they might have otherwise avoided. So it can be termed as a socially connecting device that's also socially isolating at the same time. Several studies report a preponderance of male Internet addicts but women are also addicted just in different ways Net addicts prefer sites that fit their behavioural stereotype

Certain qualities of the Internet-its accessibility, affordability and anonymity-make it difficult to resist the temptation of continuous surfing. Many individuals go online and gain a sense of acceptance from people they don't even know. For some it is a hobby. But then hobbies don't become harmful in terms of the attention they take away from important aspects of our lives-addictions do.



Hobby or addiction?

It should be a hobby but it actually turns out to be an addiction. You can test your own self by looking out for these symptoms:

1)Using the online services everyday without any skipping.

2) Losing track of time after making a connection.

3) Going out less and less.

4) Spending less and less time on meals at home or at work, and eating in front of the monitor.

5)Denying spending too much time on the Net.

6)Others complaining of your too much time in front of the monitor.

7)Checking on your mailbox too many times a day.

8)You think you have got the greatest web site in the world

9)Logging onto the Net while already busy at work.

10)Sneaking online when spouse or parents are not at home

Well if the answers to the above queries are yes then I am afraid buddy you are suffering from Internet addiction disorder. Cannot believe it! To confirm this why don't you take this simple test:

The Internet addiction test

To know if you're already addicted or rapidly tumbling toward trouble assess your level of addiction, by answering the following questions:

1. Do you often discover that you have stayed online longer than you had intended to?

a) No, I keep a strict vigil on the time I spend online

b) Occasionally, I do go overboard but it s under control.

c) Yes, I always seem to lose track of time.

2. Do you neglect household chores to spend more time online?

a) No, I never neglect my duties.

b) Yeah, Occasionally, I seem to be careless.

c) Oh! There are others to look after the house.

3. Do you like forming new relationships with other online users?

a) No, I do not like talking to strangers

b) Occasionally, I do make an odd friend

c) Yes, I am always on the look out for new friends

4. Do others often complain to you about the amount of time you spend online?

a) No, I never give others an opportunity to complain

b) Occasionally, they say a word of caution but nothing much

c) Yes, they always seem to be complaining about my excessive Net usage

5.Does your examination marks or school/college work suffer because of the amount of time you spend online?

a) No, studies are always my first priority.

b) Occasionally, I seem to miss out but I make up for it later

c) Yes, I always seem to lag behind due to shortage of time and concentration problem as a result of excessive Net usage.

6.Do you always check your e-mail before something else that you need to do?

a) No, first things come first

b) Yeah, Occasionally, I do

c) Yes, I always check on my mails first

7. How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of the Internet?

a) Never my work is my worship

b) Sometimes I lag behind but I cope up with it

c) Yes, I always seem to be running before time.

8. How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do online?

a) Well there's nothing to hide. I have no secrets to hide.

b) Sometimes I do hold back a secret

c) C'mon I can't tell them what I do and where I go online. It is so embarrassing

9. How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go online again?

a) Oh! its been a rare incident but nothing much

b) Occasionally, I do plan my online visits

c) Oh yes, I am always looking forward to my next journey to the net

10. How often do you feel that life without the Internet would be boring, empty, and joyless?

a) Never felt like this

b) Occasionally, I do get such a feeling

c) Yes, I feel Internet is the medium of entertainment for me now.

11.How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are online?

a) Oh c'mon I am not that desperate

b) Occasionally, an odd word of anger but nothing like yelling

c) I cannot tolerate being disturbed while I am surfing

12. How often do you lose sleep due to late-night logins?

a) Oh no, early to bed early to rise is my motto

b) Occasionally, I get late but never past midnight

c) Yes, I am always awake past 2 in the morning

13. How often do you find yourself saying "just a few more minutes" when online?

a) Rarely

b) Sometimes

c) Yeah this habit is becoming quite a headache for me too

14. How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend online and fail?

a) I always follow my watch

b) Occasionally, I do try in vain

c) Yes. I always seem to encounter such a problem.

15. How often do you try to hide how long you've been online?

a) Never because there's nothing to hide

b) Occasionally, I do lie a bit

c) I never tell the exact time I was online to anyone

16. How often do you choose to spend more time online over going out with others?

a) I always plan my time

b) Occasionally, I prefer going online than going out

c) I always like to be on the net than wasting time going out

After answering all above questions, add the numbers you selected for each response to obtain a final score. The higher your score, the greater your level of addiction and the problems your Internet usage causes. Here's a general scale to help measure your score:

a) 0 b) 5 c) 10

Evaluation table

20 - 50 points: You are an average online user. Sometimes you may surf the Web a bit too long but you have good self-control. Keep it up!

50 - 80 points: You experience an occasional problem because of the Internet. You should reconsider its full impact on your life. It isn't late. Be cautious.

80 or more points: My! My! Your Internet usage seems to be causing significant problems in your life. You should address the problems directly caused by your Internet usage. Remember it is never too late to realise and rectify your faults.