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Many parents find it helpful to write up an "Internet use contract" spelling out what sites their children are allowed to visit, how long they are allowed to stay online, and what to do if someone they're communicating with requests personal information or says so and agree on the consequences that will result if the rules are violated.

Many spend hours on-line, e-mailing, instant messaging, downloading music, and updating Facebook pages, with some visiting game sites, shopping, and gambling on-line.

When her previously high grades began to drop, her parents confiscated her desktop, and Melanie threatened to leave home.

Many parents and stepparents wonder, how much on-line activity is too much?

Though internet addiction is not yet a bona fide psychiatric diagnosis, psychiatrists and psychologists are calling for more research, so they can include it in future editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM), the bible and last word on diagnosis and disorders for therapists, hospitals, clinics, and insurers. Experts agree teens who struggle with internet overuse do not fit a single profile.

Desperate to meet people and connect, they might surf the web and visit chat rooms and game sites to the exclusion of all else. Take a long hard look at all of his behaviors and hobbies.

While all may seem well, overuse of the internet might be hidden behind deeper problems such as depression, anxiety, substance use or eating disorders, and learning or conduct problems.

What's your opinion on teens getting involved in social networking and online chat rooms?

I've read some of the teen conversations on the sites my daughter wants to visit, and they seem relatively harmless. While the Internet can be a wonderful educational and communication tool, it can also be a dangerous place for unsuspecting young teens.

On the other end of the continuum are the isolated, socially anxious teens.

They might be teased, bullied, and avoid school altogether.

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