Web addiction may cause productivity losses

Compulsive Web surfing by Internet-addicted employees could be costing Australian businesses millions of dollars, an international expert said today.

Dr James Fearing, visiting Australia from the US to address a conference on problems in the workplace, has warned that using the Internet could be just as addictive as gambling.

"It is similar to gambling in one sense in that it is more of a psychological addiction; it is almost like a craving in the brain where people stay on the Internet," Dr Fearing said.

"I believe companies are losing millions and millions of dollars as a result of lost productivity."

Referring to the number of US workers fired for spending office hours on the Internet, Fearing said there were between three and 11 million people addicted to the Internet.

The best cure for Internet addiction, he said, is to go cold turkey.

"If [Internet addicts] do not have to use a computer, we really recommend complete abstinence," Dr Fearing said.

"Literally, get the computer out of the house or out of the office if you don't need it.

"If you do need it for your day-to-day functioning, we ask that you have the people around you monitor your activities."

Dr Fearing is president and chief executive of National Counselling Intervention Services & Executive Health Systems USA.

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