WASHINGTON - The Internet is where we spend more and more of our time. But for a growing number of people, it's an out-of-control habit instead of a necessary part of life.
Internet addiction -- an online-related compulsive behavior that interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and work -- is a psychological and behavioral problem that is spreading around the world, experts say.
Kimberly Young, clinical director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery and author of the book "Caught in the Net," said that about 5 percent to 10 percent of Americans --15 to 30 million people -- may suffer from Internet addiction. And the problem may be even greater elsewhere. Young said 18 to 30 percent of the populations of China, Korea and Taiwan, where the Internet is even more popular than in the U.S., may be addicted.
"I've seen a lot of growth in the field of Internet addiction," said Young. "More research and studies (are) trying to understand it better. ... It's a global problem."