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9
The Internet
Addicted to Gaming

Among young people, one of the most common forms of Internet addiction is an addiction to online gaming. In particular, online role-playing games have led many to become dependent on the sense of belonging these online communities provide. An organization called On-Line Gamers Anonymous was formed to help online gaming addicts overcome their addictions with a 12-step process similar to that of Alcoholics Anonymous [source: Padwa]. There's also a modified program for atheist and agnostic gamers facing addiction.

Even though the Internet has only been around for a few short decades, some people's preoccupation with being on the Web has crossed over from hobby to addiction. And that's probably not difficult to believe considering how much time most of us spend in front of our computers these days.

As our work, social and private lives become more and more technology-oriented, some of us have a hard time knowing when to power down. According to The Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, between 5 and 10 percent of people are addicted to Internet use today [source: Padwa]. And Internet addiction rates tend to be higher among college students -- some studies found rates as high as 15 percent [source: Young].

So what are the signs of Internet addiction? Like most addictions, the major sign is that it interferes with your normal life. For addicts, time spent online takes priority over pretty much everything else and can start to affect relationships with other people. Some studies show that Internet addicts may actually go online just to feel normal, and that time spent away from the Internet creates feelings of withdrawal. Addicts might also feel irritable, depressed or lonely when they're unable to spend enough time online. Studies show that an Internet addict will spend, on average, 38 hours per week online [sources: Padwa; Ries].

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