Psychological Self-Help

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inordinate hours seeking friendships, support, emotional exchanges,
and/or flirtatious-sexual interactions in newsgroups, forums, and chat
rooms. Some young people spend hours with interactive computer
games. All this time spent online reduces the time available for face to
face relationships, for productive work and learning, and for
recreation/leisure/physical activities. Therapists working in this area
observe that addicts frequently deny any problem until confronted with
a personal crisis, like doing poorly in school, getting caught misusing a
computer at work, or facing criticism from a partner. If you spend
more than a couple of hours per day on the Internet playing games,
flirting, or seeking sexual-pleasure, you should ask yourself if this is
the best use of your time. 
Probably thousands of married people have had emotionally
involved “affairs” online, some even sneaked out to rendezvous. When
caught, these online relationships can devastate a marriage. Other
examples of problems: parents have been charged with child neglect
caused by this addiction. One study found that people judged to be
Internet addicts averaged (in excess of work hours) 30 hours per week
online (for a few it was 100 hours per week). Students have flunked
out of college because they were online so much. Contrary to what you
might believe, the average Internet addict is not a teenager, but 30 to
40 years old, 40% are women, and one third earn over $40,000 a
year. A surprisingly high percentage of Internet addicts have a
psychiatric disorder, often manic-depression, anxiety, low self-esteem,
anorexia, an impulse control disorder or a substance abuse problem
(Shapira, et al., 1998). 
Another survey of Internet users (Cooper, Scherer, Boies &
Gordon, 1999) also found that the people who frequently logged onto
sex-oriented sites often have psychological problems and stress,
including running risks to real relationships. However, these authors
believe occasional visits to sex or flirtation sites may be harmless
entertainment for most people. Yet, they say that the 8% of heaviest
users of such sites (11+ hours/week) may be harmed, primarily by
exacerbating their sexual compulsions. The study also noted that
about 60% of the respondents using sex related sites didn’t tell the
truth about their age, almost 40% had pretended to be a different
race, and 75% kept secret how much time they spent on such sites
while denying any guilt about the activity. 
For those of you interested in more information about the
connection between pornography and sexual activities or acting-out,
Dr. Victor Cline's description of his treatment of pornographic
General's Office has also produced an unclear report on the effects of
pornography (the scientists on the commission disagreed with each
other). Not all researchers believe that pornography is a consistent
cause of sexual aggression. Often aggressive tendencies are seen
before the offender started looking an pornography (Seto, Maric &
Barbaree, 2001, in Aggression & Violent Behavior, 35-53); likewise,
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