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Call them addicts, or call them compulsive users. But whatever the label, psychologists have no doubt that growing numbers of Web surfers are developing unhealthy dependencies on Internet use.

"Whether it's a true addiction, or whether it's a symptom of other compulsive behaviors, like gambling, people are losing control," says Maressa Hecht Orzack, a Harvard University Medical School psychologist who runs a clinic that specializes in treating this problem at McLean Hospital. "It's an emerging disorder, suffered by people who find the virtual reality on computer screens more attractive than everyday reality."  

Answer Yes or No.  Then check your danger level by how many yeses. And remember: these are general guidelines, not a professional diagnosis. But if your score does raise any red flags, think about seeking help—ohhhhffline.

1. Do you experience a sense of euphoria, excitement or relief when you‘re at the computer?

2. Do you need to spend more and more time at the computer in order to achieve the same feeling?

3. Do you feel empty, depressed or irritable when you‘re not at the computer?

4. Have you ever missed an appointment because you were too involved with a non-urgent computer activity?

5. Do you spend more than three hours a day surfing the Web?

6. If most of your computer use is at work, do you participate in chat rooms during this time and/or find yourself spending time on non-work Internet sites more than twice during your working day?

7. Do you routinely download pornography from the Internet?

8. Do you find it easier to talk to people online than in person?

9. Do friends or family tell you you spend too much time online?

10. Have your grades dropped or your job performance declined because of your time online?

11. Have you ever tried - and failed - to limit time spent at your computer?

12. Does your little finger sometimes feel numb after using a key pad?

13. Do you lie about the amount of time you spend on computer activities?

14. Do you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome?

15. Do you have regular backaches (more than once a week)?

16. Do you have a problem with dry eyes?

17. Do you crave more time online?

18. Do you skip meals or eat at your computer so that you can stay online?

19. Do you ever sacrifice personal hygiene, such as shaving or showering, to spend time on computer activities?

20. Have you experienced sleep disturbances or changes in sleep patterns since you started using your computer daily?

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