Community of friends growing in cyberspace

Be Web Aware says unpopular, introverted people are often attracted to the social opportunities online communities offer. Although this form of interaction with thousands of other users may appear to be a social activity, for the introverted person, excessive use can serve to further isolate him or her.

John Grohol, Ph.D. of says he can only guess what makes the Internet and online communities so addictive since research on the subject is still being conducted.

Since the aspects of the Internet where people are spending the greatest amount of time online have to do with social interactions, it would appear socialization is what makes the Internet so addicting,” he says on the Web site. “Socializing — talking — is a very addictive behavior.”

Grohol further explains we do not characterize time spent in the real world with friends as addicting, citing teenagers who talk on the phone for hours and people who become immersed in an activity such as reading a book, so we should not classify hours spent on the Internet as an addiction.

Still, Grohol offers an alternative explanation for the popularity of these sites, emphasizing the intrigue may only be temporary. He says many of these people are likely newcomers to the Internet, and the stages of addictive behavior are “phasic.”