Computer Addiction

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Here are some facts about a growing problem of computer addiction.

Tom Wood was always irritable, tired and not interested in anything but his "bloody computer", his father Ray Wood said.

It was not until Mr Wood smashed Tom's keyboard into 100 pieces that the 16-year-old schoolboy realised he had an obsessive dependency - computer addiction.

But recent stories of children hiding with laptops under their doonas to avoid the wrath of their parents indicate that the modern day problem is growing by the minute.

Melbourne psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack says that as a conservative guess, 50 per cent of her clients suffer from computer addiction, with some staying up until 4am to feed their obsession.

"I have clients who hide under their doonas with their laptops," Ms McCormack said.

"I have some clients who are on the computer for 16-plus hours a day ... some have dropped out of school. A lot of these have Asperger's."

Ms McCormack says computer addiction is "really scary" and Asperger's syndrome - a form of autism typified by social isolation and eccentric behaviour - is one outcome.

"I've got some adults who are just as addicted as children," she said.

"There's endless information on the internet and you can keep searching and expanding your knowledge."

Tom Wood, who is known for cracking the federal government's $84 million PC filters in just 30 minutes, says he would suffer withdrawal while away from a computer screen.

"I was absolutely tired all the time, had a daze over me - not being as alert and attentive in class," Tom said.

"I was having headaches from information overloads ... sometimes being more aggressive at home and feeling bad if I was not up-to-date. What worse could there be?"

Tom says that when his father took his computer out of his room, the habit started to break.

His obsession with checking email messages and responses to his web entries on social networks such as Facebook had impacted on his...
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