Guilt over internet use afflicts one in four

Feeling guilty about the time you spend on the web? You're not alone.

About a quarter of people nationally admit to internet guilt, while 10 per cent say they are so tied to their computers that their personal relationships have been affected, a Canstar poll reveals.

Women were marginally more likely to regret the time they spent online, although it was more common for men to admit to damaging relationships through their internet browsing. Johnsonville resident Andrew Richardson, a 32-year-old mobile computer technician, said the internet had a hold on his life and his family suffered.

"I feel guilty because of the amount of time it takes up from the partner and kids. We both work, so hardly spend time with the kids as it is. One hour in the morning and maybe three hours at night if we're lucky.

"After being at work all day, I feel the need to jump straight online once home to find out the latest developments and products that are [or] will be releasing soon. Then there's one-off research for specific problems that arise on the job."

Mr Richardson, whose job relies on him being up to date with tech developments, said he needed the internet to stay informed, but constantly checking the web meant he was often preoccupied at home.

Canstar New Zealand general manager Derek Bonnar said the survey showed people in their late teens and 20s were the most affected by the amount of time spent online. "Just over a quarter of all respondents say they often feel guilty about the amount of time they spend online, but aren't motivated to do anything about it."

Forty-four per cent of people considered "Generation Y" - aged 18-29 - have pangs of guilt about online use, compared with just 21 per cent of baby boomers.

Wellington psychotherapist Gordon Hewitt said excessive internet usage, like any obsessive pastime, could hurt relationships. In a romantic relationship, a partner's high use of the internet could signal they were avoiding the other person.

"As a psychotherapist, what I'd be interested in is, what are they escaping by doing this?"

Canstar polled 1824 people with broadband.

The Dominion Post