London, June 19 : Internet addiction is turning into a clinical disorder, with more and more people visiting hospitals to curb the time they spend on the web, says a leading psychiatrist.
About five to 10 per cent of online users have been dubbed as 'Internet addicts' by psychiatrists. Pervious studies have shown highly educated, socially awkward as the most likely sufferers, however, now increasing number of middle-aged women are getting addicted to Internet.
While writing the editorial in American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr Jerald Block, of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland said that web users have been spending unhealthy amounts of time playing online games, viewing pornography or emailing.
The victims forget to eat and sleep, have more arguments and start feeling isolated from society.
They need more advanced technology and spend more hours online as they develop 'resistance' to the pleasure given by their current system.
Moreover, Internet addicts experience fatigue and are more likely to get lower marks in tests.
Dr Block said some sufferers were so addicted to the Internet that they required medication or even hospital treatment to curb the time they spent on the web.
"The relationship is with the computer. It becomes a significant other to them. They exhaust emotions that they could experience in the real world on the computer through any number of mechanisms: emailing, gaming, porn," Telegraph quoted Block, as saying.
"It's much more acceptable for kids to talk about game use, whereas adults keep it a secret. Rather than having sex, or arguing with their wife or husband, or feeding their children, these adults are playing games," he added.