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US public hospital opens clinic to treat internet addicts

Published Sep 6, 2013

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Smartphones are getting smarter, laptops are becoming increasingly portable – and people who just cannot put them down are finding more remedies.

The latest clinic treating the growing number of American internet addicts will open in Bradford, Pennsylvania next week.

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Dr Kimberly Young, a psychologist who heads the programme at Bradford Regional Medical Center, a public hospital, said she had privately treated thousands of people who could not control their online activity since 1994. “A lot of countries do prevention and education surrounding the issue, and we Americans are just starting to think in those terms,” Young said.

South Korea and China were leaders in this treatment field, she said. With about 75 percent of US adults online, Young called the internet a “new outlet for traditional addictions”, including pornography, shopping and gambling.

The internet also allowed for new and unique behaviours, such as compulsive use of social media.

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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders now lists “internet use disorder” as a subject worthy of further study.

Dr David Greenfield, a psychiatrist who founded the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in Connecticut, prescribes the installation of website blocking and monitoring software for his patients’ computers.

He said obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome and deep vein thrombosis were among the threats of internet addiction. – Reuters

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