INTERNET addiction among adolescents can provoke behavioural problems and affect school performance, according to a psychologist in the Clinica Capistrano.

Marta Cittadini said this type of addiction can result in teenagers spending hours on the internet. She added that it takes at least a year to treat the problem.

In order to try and help parents control the amount of time their children spend on the internet, Microsoft, in association with the Spanish Paediatric Association, has launched two programmes.

The first, parental control, is integrated into Windows Vista and is designed to restrict the use of the computer to a certain hour of the day. Whatever programme is being used at the end of the allotted period closes down automatically.

The second programme is Family Safety, which is designed for the protection of children and has been on the market for some months. It can be downloaded for free from the internet and uses filters for unsecure web pages and msn to prevent young people from viewing unsuitable pages.

Spain is one of the countries that uses this type of “protection” software the most.
Cittadini said that the internet “is used for everything, from sexual gratification, communication, gambling and also learning”.
She said that what linked all these things was that the user was anonymous.
She added that many young people used the internet for role-playing games, selecting characters through which they were able to live experiences in a virtual reality that “they could find it compensates for the lack of love they find in the worlds of their family, friends or school”.

According to a study carried out by the Clinica Capistrano, the most visited pages by adolescents are chatrooms, while boys are more interested in entertainment in general.

They prefer news sites, chat rooms, and overwhelmingly prefer adult sites, online games and sports websites to girls.