Michael and Iana Straw, a couple from Reno, Nevada, are facing charges of neglect after obsessive online gaming kept them from properly taking care of their two children., a boy age 22 month and a girl age 11 months. The children were found severely malnourished and in need of medical attention when they were found by a social worker last month. Since then, the children have been gaining weight while in foster care. Their parents pleaded guilty to two counts each of child neglect which has them facing a maximum 12-year prison sentence.

The couple claim the reason for neglecting their children was because of an unhealthy adiction to online video games including the “Dungeons & Dragons” series. This left the children to fend for themselves. When found, the little girl weighed just ten pounds, a mouth infection, dry skin, dehydration, and had cat urine in her hair which needed to be shaved off. The boy was also treated for starvation and a genital infection. He has also had difficult walking because of muscle weakness.

Their father is an unemployed cashier, and their mother worked for a temporary staffing agency doing warehouse work. The couple had received a $50,000 inheritance which was spent on computer equipment and a plasma television. Their claim of video game addiction may or may not be a legitimate one.

Last month, an American Medical Association meeting determined that video game addiction had to be studied further before it could be deemed an official mental disorder. It is currently defined as compulsive internet behavior which interferes with normal living, taking precedence over even family and work. This definition could apply to five to ten percent of the population. Symptoms include compulsive use of the Internet, preoccupation while online, lying or hiding online behavior, and an inability to control online behavior. Like other addictions, the Internet gives addicts a high and makes them feel more normal. Most addicts are addicted to internet porn. Other addictive sites include eBay, online gambling, and online games.

Internet addicts are susceptible to become addicted to the internet because it is in their nature. Half of all addicts suffer from other addictions on top of this. Also, 75 percent of them suffer from relationship problems, making the Internet an apparent cure to this problem. Gender determines what kind of relationships they would like to achieve. Men look for dominance and the fulfillment of sexual fantasy. Women look for close friendships, romantic partners, and anonymous communication to hide their appearance. Treatment for this addiction is much like treating eating disorders. Addicts must relearn healthy patterns and use the Internet in moderation. This kind of disorder is tricky in that it is abusing a behavior that is not meant to be dangerous in any way. However, as the Straws have discovered, human weakness can make any activity dangerous and addictive.

For related articles visit

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070716/ap_on_re_us/neglect_internet_addiction and

andhttp://www.netaddiction.com/resources/internet_addiction_test.htm.

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