Social Networking: An Internet Addiction?

Social networking Web sites like MySpace and Facebook have never been more popular. As CBS News National Correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports, some worry the sites are perhaps too popular... maybe even addicting.

Students busily typing on their laptops are a common site on campuses like UCLA. But could it be they're avoiding a textbook by logging onto Facebook?

"I'm wondering if you've ever thought, 'Am I spending too much time on these sites?'" asks Kauffman.

"Yes. I have thought that!" graduate student Jessica Doing admits. "I've been trying to finish my thesis for awhile now, and Facebook, being on the computer -- it's sort of addictive."

Herman Rosiles Rodrigues, a 21-year-old graphic design major agrees.

"There were nights where I, like, spent the entire night just, like, customizing my page."

On Web sites like Facebook and MySpace, users can instantly see what their friends online are doing and can keep them updated on their every move. Most users know it's not a substitute for face-to-face communication, but they say it's the next best thing.

"Friends are kind of scattered all around the country," says graduate student Chris Beitel. "So it's just kind of nice to be able to keep in touch with people."

MySpace says a quarter of all Americans use the site, with 300,000 more joining every day.

"It's a really comprehensive snapshot of what everyone that's important to your life is doing at any given time," says MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe.

"I think what kids and what adults are doing with Facebook and MySpace, is they're extending their sense of identity, their sense of self," says Psychiatrist Dr. Jerald Block.

Dr. Block treats patients who use the Internet excessively -- more than 30 or 40 hours a week. Studies suggest Internet addicts' number in the millions.

"It's not just involving the Internet," Block says. "It involves the computer more generally. You can be checking e-mail excessively; you can be playing computer games excessively."

Not to worry, says the co-founder of MySpace.

"I don't think it's a concern at all," DeWolfe says. "I think it's more substitutional. People are spending less time watching television, and they're spending more time on MySpace."
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