Last week, the first Internet Addiction Center in the U.S. opened in a Redmond, Washington, a Seattle suburb near the home of Microsoft’s headquarters. Called ReSTART, the residential treatment center helps kids and adults who are addicted to online gaming such as World of Warcraft, and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. While Internet addiction isn’t yet listed as a separate disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, it is thought of a true addiction in South Korea, China and parts of Europe.
According to Dr. Kimberly Young, a leading expert on Internet Addiction and the director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery in Bradford, Pa., the following are addiction warning signs:
- Being preoccupied with thoughts of the Internet (including gaming or social networking)
- Using the Internet longer than intended, and for increasing amounts of time
- Repeatedly making unsuccessful efforts to control use
- Jeopardizing relationships, school or work to spend time online
- Lying to cover the extent of Internet use
- Using the Internet to escape problems or feelings of depression
- Physical changes to weight, headaches or carpal tunnel syndrome
If you think your child might be addicted to the Internet, you can find out more at the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery.