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Alexander decided to check himself into reSTART, the first rehab center in America devoted to treating Internet addicts. During his 45-day fast from the Internet, Alexander spent most of his time exercising and leaning real-world skills such as cooking and camping.
Online gamers, however, aren't the only people who can develop an Internet
addiction. People who spend time gambing online, visiting social websites or
even using online retail sites can all develop addictions. The reason is because
each of these online activities stlmulates a part of the brain that releases
dopamine. This chemical, which products pleasant feelings, is linked not only
to Internet addiction but also to other types of non-Internet addictions.
So what distinguishes an Internet addict from a casual surfer? One of
several distinctions is that a person who has an Internet addiction usually
becomes angry or depressed when denied access to the Internet. In contrast,
a casual surfer can usually switch to offline activities without such angst.
Although Internet addiction still isn't labeled as a disorder by the American
Psychiatric Association, many therapists are pressing the organization to do so.
They hope that more addicts cna receive professional treatment. Several Asian
countries, on the other hand, have already labeled Internet addiction a serious
health problem and have taken steps to address it. China has required local
gaming companies to penallze gamers who play online for more than three hours
a day by cutting their points in half. And both China and Korea have created bott
camps where addicts are denied Internet access for extended periods.
In order to prevent an addiction from forming, all Internet users should take steps to limit their online activity and instead invest in real-world activities and
relationships. Any time that Internet activity begins to threaten grades, jobs or
relationships, it's tiime to log off and pull the plug.
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