This week over at Net Family News, my friend Anne Collier interviews Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist in Portland, Ore., who has worked with patients suffering from Internet or video game addiction. Dr. Block has developed this mnemonic to identify the 'SIGNS' that kids or adults may be on the road to Net or gaming addiction. "If one or more of these questions are answered 'yes' AND the person is having interpersonal problems, he/she is at risk," says Dr. Block. Sadly, I find I am clearly suffering from several of these symptoms. Are you?
S = Sleep cycle is consistently advanced. Goes to sleep later and wakes later or is tired in the morning.
I = Irritable when not on the computer. Preoccupied thinking about the computer and their activities there (sex, gaming, browsing, tuning the system up, etc.). Can become enraged if told to stop using.
G = Guilty about his/her computer use so tries to hide evidence of 1) game/porn purchases, 2) online activities (deletes cache, uses encryption/passwords, etc.), and 3) logs on secretly, etc.; 4) defensive when confronted.
N = Nightmares. Dreams about his or her gaming/computer use.
S = Social dropouts - people who become more isolated by their computer use. This is seen when there is a consistent pattern of sacrificing real-life relationships to preserve virtual ones. Alternatively, seems to prefer living in virtual worlds more than their real one. These people become NEETs: 'Not in Employment, Education, or Training.'