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Unable to log out? See a shrink

Karan was 17 when he first played the popular online game Counterstrike. Soon, an entire evening was not enough and he started skipping classes, eventually bunking school entirely.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2009 00:31 IST
Neha Bhayana

Karan was 17 when he first played the popular online game Counterstrike. Soon, an entire evening was not enough and he started skipping classes, eventually bunking school entirely.

“We got a call from the school saying he had not been attending for four months,” said his father.

Karan, which is a pseudonym because he did not want to be identified, suffers from what doctors call an “Internet addiction disorder.” Last week, as the Internet turned 40, the first residential treatment centre for online addicts opened in the US.

According to psychiatrists, excessive Internet use becomes pathological if it interferes with a person’s daily life and if he or she suffers from withdrawal symptoms when deprived of access for more than an hour.

Karan has been undergoing counselling. Anecdotal evidence suggests he’s among a rising number of people caught in the Internet’s web.

“I have been counselling six to eight new cases of Internet addiction every month this year, up from four to five last year,” said Mumbai based psychiatrist Dr Seema Hingorrany, adding that her patients ranged from 10-year-olds to those in their 50s.

In Delhi, clinical psychologist Dr Aruna Broota says she’s had patients tell her, “You don’t want us to get hooked to drugs, you don’t want us to have sex with prostitutes, what is the problem with surfing?”