Such stories may appear to be almost urban legends, so ashamed are Internet addicts and their partners. After all, who wants to admit they have a 100 a day habit (e-mails, that is) or are somehow less alluring than a piece of hardware? But in America, which has long had a love affair with both therapy and the Net, these stories are common.
A recent survey of 17,251 Internet users found nearly 6 per cent had some sort of addiction to the medium. They revealed that their online habit contributed to disrupted marriages, childhood delinquency, crime and over-spending. Tap into online addiction sites and you'll find messages such as: "Hello, my name is Bob and I'm a Webaholic."
Witness the plight of Ohio woman Kelli Michetti, who literally became a computer hacker because of her husband's constant online chatting. When she crashed a meat cleaver through her husband's computer terminal that solved the problem, although naturally it led to difficulties with the police.
Or take the classic Internet addiction story of Ingrid Parker, a woman who became such a slave to the Internet--especially chat rooms-- that it took over her life. She made do with two hours' sleep a night, had marathon weekend computer sessions of up to 17 hours and fell in love with a married man in the US state of Oregon.