I was scrolling through family photos on my computer, admiring my two beautiful babies, when I spotted a disturbing trend: My laptop was open in almost all of the pictures. There's my daughter, at 8 months, playing at my feet while I typed away on the couch. There's me and my son, a year later, with the laptop at my side as I held him in my arms.
I'd heard about Internet addiction before, but always assumed it was something limited to socially challenged guys who played too much World of Warcraft. Now it seemed my Internet "habit" was slowly but surely crossing the line. Sometimes I found myself up into the wee hours of the morning, surfing the web while my family slept. I read the news, kept up with friends, and looked up answers to endless questions. I wrote my personal blog and read dozens of others, just for something to do.
It turns out I'm not the only mama who plugs in and zones out. Coleen Moore, coordinator of resource development at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery in Peoria, says that she's seeing more and more women coming in for Internet addiction. They're young, they're often new mothers, and they're addicted to blogs, message boards, and Second Life, she says.
These moms are contributing to a growing global addiction. There's a movement among psychiatrists to recognize Internet addiction as an official mental disorder (just like alcohol dependency). And a recent Stanford University national survey found that 14 percent of Internet users find it hard to stay away from it for several days at a time; 9 percent try to hide their "nonessential Internet use" from their loved ones; 8 percent admit they use the web as a way to escape problems.
You're likely not the kind of addict that Moore has seen -- women who don't bathe and abuse drugs to help them stay "up" for more online time. You may have noticed, though, that going online has become an imposing part of your life, which, at the least, means a load or two of laundry goes unwashed (and who cares about that?). But it may also mean you're missing out on time with your baby -- something you probably do care about. Here, why we're so susceptible as new moms to that blue glow of the screen.