British psychiatrists claim that Internet addiction is a 'clinical disorder'. They report that between 5 and 10 per cent of online users are “internet addicts”

The shrinks say that sufferers spend “unhealthy” amounts of time playing online games, viewing pornography or emailing.

There are four symptoms:

- Forgetting to eat and sleep.

- The need for more advanced technology or extra hours online as they develop “resistance” to their addiction.

- Withdrawal symptoms when away from a computer.

- Fatigue and argumentative nature.

It’s little surprise that most likely sufferers “highly educated, socially awkward men” but middle-aged women are catching up fast - although presumably less keen on hardcore porn.

Psychiatrist Dr Jerald Block: "The relationship is with the computer. It becomes a significant other to them. They exhaust emotions that they could experience in the real world on the computer through any number of mechanisms: emailing, gaming, porn.

"It's much more acceptable for kids to talk about game use, whereas adults keep it a secret. Rather than having sex, or arguing with their wife or husband, or feeding their children, these adults are playing games."