everybody knows what the Internet and used it at least a couple of times so there is no need for me to tell you what the Internet is. However, the incredible growth of the size and technology of the Internet is a fact well worth mentioning. Ever since the Internet was commercially introduced to the public late in 1989 the number of the networks that form the Internet have been increasing exponentially. As you can see in figure 1 in the United States there is a new network connected to the Internet every 30 minutes. Figure 1 Number of Networks connected (Source: ftp://nic.
merit.edu/statistics/nsfnet) Not all these networks are commercial, some are educational some are for organizations and some are simply networks that provide Internet services. All these different kind of networks can be identified on the Internet by their domain extension, or in other words the last three letters in the address -e.g.
http://www.arabia.com is a commercial site because of the .com- in figure 2 the percentage of all four major domains is shown, and it is obvious that the big share goes to the commercial domains. It does not take a genius to figure out that since the Internet attracted that much commercial interest that means that more and more people are using the Internet, and even more are willing to spend time and money on it. Figure 2 (Source of data: http://www.
nw.com) THE ADDICTION With such vast growth of the Internet what is considered as a small problem can grow along with the Internet to cause an even bigger problem. In a recent publication in the Los Angeles Times Mathew McAlleseter reported on a survey conducted on the Internet by Victor Brenner who came up with the following results: "17% said that they spend more than 40 hours a week online, 31% said that their work performance had deteriorated since they started using the Internet, 7% got "into hot water" with their employers or schools for Internet related activities" (LA Times, 5/5/1996, pp A-18).However, Brenner acknowledges that his survey is unscientific in many ways; respondents are self-selected and many may be Internet researchers. On the other hand, Dr. Kimberly Young from the University of Pittsgurg-Bradford conducted a more accurate survey that included 396 men and women.
In her point of view heavy on-line users in her study all met psychiatric criteria for clinical dependence applied to alcoholics and drug addicts. They had lost control over their Net usage and couldn't end it despite harmful effects on their personal and professional lives. What Causes It Finding a reason for Internet addiction can be as hard as finding a reason for smoking addiction, however, there are a couple of reasons that are obvious for some addicts: * The power of instant access to all sorts of information and all kinds of people is a positive that can be overused. * A different kind of community that can draw people who tend to "shy out" in the real world because this new virtual community does not require the social skill that real life does, all you have to do is be good on the keyboard. * Adopting new personas and playing your favorite kind of personality is not hard when others can not see or hear you.
* Last but not least is the fascination with technology. This might be the best excuse -if there such a thing- to be addicted to the Internet, the information super highway, or cyber space.