Wednesday, February 17, 2010


As has been demonstrated, being able to spot someone who is an Internet addict or an Internet abuser can be very difficult. However, there are some practical steps that can be taken to help minimize the potential problem.
• Take the issue of Internet abuse/addiction seriously. Internet abuse and addiction in all their varieties are only just being considered as potentially serious occupational issues. Managers, in conjunction with Personnel Departments, need to ensure that they are aware of the issues involved and the potential risks it can bring to both their employees and the whole organization. They also need to be aware that for employees who deal with finances, the consequences of some forms of Internet abuse/addiction can be very great for the company.
• Raise awareness of Internet abuse/addiction issues at work. This can be done through e-mail circulation, leaflets, and posters on general notice boards. Some countries will have national and/or local agencies that can supply useful educational literature (including posters). Telephone numbers for these organizations can usually be found in most telephone directories. Ask employees to be vigilant. Internet abuse/addiction at work can have serious repercussions not only for the individual but also for those employees who befriend Internet abusers and addicts, and the organization itself. Fellow staff need to know the basic signs and symptoms of Internet abuse and addiction. Employee behaviors, such as continual use of the Internet for non-work purposes, might be indicative of an Internet abuse problem.
• Give employees access to diagnostic checklists. Make sure that any literature or poster within the workplace includes a self-diagnostic checklist so that employees can check themselves to see if they might have (or be developing) an Internet problem.
• Monitor Internet use of your staff who you suspect may have problems. Those staff with an Internet-related problem are likely to spend great amounts of time engaged in non-work activities on the Internet. Should an employer suspect such a person, they should get the company’s IT specialists to look at their Internet surfing history as the computer’s hard disk will have information about everything they have ever accessed.
• Check Internet “bookmarks” of your staff. In some jurisdictions across the world, employers can legally access the e-mails and Internet content of their employees. One of the most simple checks is to simply look at an employees list of “bookmarked” websites. If they are spending a lot of employment time engaged in non-work activities, many bookmarks will be completely non-work related.
• Develop an “Internet Abuse at Work” policy. Many organizations have policies for behaviors such as smoking or drinking alcohol. Employers should develop their own Internet abuse policies by liaison between Personnel Services and local technology councils and/or health and safety executives.
• Give support to identified problem users. Most large organizations have counseling services and other forms of support for employees who find themselves in difficulties. In some (but not all) situations, problems associated with Internet use need to be treated sympathetically (and like other, more bona fide addictions such as alcoholism). Employee support services must also be educated about the potential problems of Internet abuse and addiction in the workplace.

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