Like almost anything else in life, it’s clearly possible to become addicted to the Internet. If you find that you are spending hours in front of your PC screen, when there are other things to be done that get ignored, there’s a danger of addiction. However, new research from the University of Bolton suggests that psychologists may have previously over-estimated Internet addiction levels. That said, they do find that Internet addiction, like any other addictive behaviour, leads to social problems and potential health problems because of skipping meals. Alcoholics, for instance, are nutritionally deficient – not because of the alcohol, but because their addiction makes them avoid eating. It’s the same for gamblers and, it seems for Internet addicts. In the University of Bolton study, some 35% of people missed meals in order to carry on playing an online game. So what does this research mean for you or your business? Well, there are tell-tale signs that mean you or your staff could need some support – increased irritability or argumentativeness, for instance can signal Internet addiction. So too can skipping meals or sleepiness. Business loses millions each year because of alcoholism and other addictions leading to staff difficulties. Employers need to keep a watchful eye out for Internet addiction as well, especially as virtually every member of staff is exposed to the Internet throughout the working day – something that’s not true for alcohol or gambling. As a result Internet addiction poses a significant threat to productivity.

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