2010 CET-4 article “Brief History of Black Boxes” taken from Time Magazine

Below is an analysis of an article from the 2010 CET-4 exam. The original of this article, dated July 2009, was taken from the American news magazine, Time.

If CET test designers are using real news media articles for their testing material, then the best strategy for preparing our students for the CET would be extensive reading of similar news articles.

Text that is crossed out (sample) was omitted from the exam. Text that is in bold (sample) was added.

A Brief History of
Black Boxes
By Claire Suddath Thursday, Jul. 02, 2009

You never see them, but they’re with you every time you fly. They record where you’re going, how fast you’re traveling and whether everything on your airplane is functioning normally. Their ability to withstand almost any disaster makes them seem like something out of a comic book. Known They’re known as the mysterious “black box,” these flight-data recorders are actually not black but orange — and when a plane falls from the sky, they’re sometimes the only thing that can help authorities discover exactly what happened and why.

When planes fall from the sky, as a Yemeni airliner did on its way to Comoros Islands in the India ocean June 30, 2009, the black box is the best bet for identifying what went wrong. So when a French submarine detected the device’s homing signal five days later, the discovery marked a huge step toward determining the cause of a tragedy in which 152 passengers were killed.

The June 1 Air France wreck in Brazil inspired the largest marine search for a black box in aviation history (which so far has turned up nothing), and now another sea crash has experts scanning the Indian Ocean for the flight recorders to the Yemenia Airbus A310 jet that went down near the Comoros Islands in the early morning hours of June 30.

In 1953 1958, Australian scientist David Warren was investigating the crash of a De Havilland Comet in India. Warren couldn’t determine the cause of the accident — in which the jet went down six minutes after takeoff, killing all 43 people onboard — because there wasn’t any useful information preserved in the crash. Over the next few years, he developed a prototype for a flight-memory recorder that would track basic information like altitude and direction. Encased in asbestos and metal, the data and sound recorder was nicknamed the “black box,” after the general term for a seemingly magical gadget that no one knows how to work.

Airlines were using black boxes by the end of the the 1950s, but the instruments didn’t become a mandatory feature until 1960, when the Federal Aviation Administration required all commercial planes to carry them. Initial versions contained literal tape recorders and were about the size and shape of a basketball. After a number of black boxes were destroyed in crashes (the tapes melted in fire), they were movedin 1965 from their original position in the landing wells to the rear of the plane, the area most likely to survive an impact. That was the first mode for a black box, which became a requirement on all U.S. commercial flights by 1960. Early models often failed to withstand crashes, however, so in 1965 the device was completely redesigned and moved to the rear of the plane – the area least subject to impact – from its original position in the landing wells. That The same year, the Federal Aviation Authority they were also required that the boxes, which were never actually black, to be painted orange or yellow to aid visibility.

These days, Modern airplanes actually have two black boxes,: the a voice recorder, which tracks pilots’ conversations, and the a flightdata recorder. which monitors They can withstand temperatures up to 2,000°F and impact forces up to 100 Gs. (A G is equal to the force of the earth’s gravity.) They track pilots’ conversations, engine noises, air-traffic-control commands, fuel levels,  engine noises and other operating functions that help investigators reconstruct the aircraft’s final moments. landing-gear extension and retraction and dozens of other clicks and pops that might offer insights about a plane’s final moments. Placed in an insulated case and surrounded by a The boxes are made out of quarter-inch-thick panels of stainless steel. the boxes can withstand massive force and temperatures up to 2,000℉. When submerged, they’re also able to emit signals from depths of 20,000 ft. And in case you’re wondering, an entire airplane can’t be made out of the same material or it would be too heavy to fly. Experts believe the boxes from Air France Flight 447, which crashed near Brazil on June 1,2009, are in water nearly that deep, but statistics say they’re still likely to turn up.

Since the 1960s, black boxes have recorded some astonishing things. In a 1990 incident, a pilot was sucked halfway out of a broken windshield on a British Airways flight; a flight attendant held on to his legs as the co-pilot landed the plane (the pilot survived). In 1994, an Aeroflot pilot allowed his 12-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son to play with the plane’s controls during a Moscow-to–Hong Kong flight. “Can I turn [the wheel]?” the black box recorded the boy saying. “Turn it.” The pilot replied. “Watch the ground as you turn. Let’s go left.” Moments later, the plane crashed into the Siberian wilderness, and all 75 people onboard died. (Read “How to Survive a Plane Crash.”)

And of course, there was the black box of United Flight 93, which recorded 30 minutes of fearful struggle as passengers overpowered terrorist hijackers and crashed the plane into a Pennsylvania cornfield on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. United 93’s passenger voice recordings were the only tapes ever to be made available to victims’ family members.

Both the Air France and Yemenia Airbus flights crashed into the ocean, which makes their black boxes incredibly hard to recover. The devices are built to withstand depths to well more than the 15,000 ft. in which Air France flight 447’s boxes probably now find themselves. The boxes send out a homing signal, activated on impact, that lasts for 30 days. The time is pretty much up for Air France’s beacons, but it’s a good bet they’ll turn up eventually; of the In the approximately 20 airplanes that have crashed into water  deep-sea crashes over the past 30 years, only one is known to have lost its black box forever plane’s black boxes were never recovered. Even the South African Airlines Boeing 747 that went down between Taiwan and Johannesburg in 1987 had its voice and data recorders recovered from an ocean depth of 14,000 ft. And it took only 14 months.

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Text analysis of “Greening the Old House” isolating the 2000 most common words, Academic Word List and unlisted words

Below is an analysis of an article, “Greening the Old House” from the 2010 CET-4 exam. The original of this article, dated April 2009, was taken from the American news magazine,Time.

Lexical researchers have isolated some English vocabulary into three groups: most common 1000 words, second most common 1000 words and the Academic Word List. Here we can see a CET-4 reading text where the underlined words (sample) are from the Academic Word List words and words that are not on any list, in other words, the most uncommon words or words most likely to be challenging for our students.

This is significant because it means that we do not need to limit students’ reading to texts they may find boring. If the same CET words can be found in texts about Lady Gaga or Justin Berbeir, Kobe Bryant or a romantic holiday in Paris, then our students can study something interesting and learn the CET words at the same time.

From this list we can get an idea of what vocabulary students may need to learn. However we need to bear in mind that a significant amount of the CET -4 test can be answered correctly without knowing the definition of every word. Much of the test requires simple word match-ups without vocabulary knowledge.

When we think of green buildings, we tend to think of new ones–the kind of high-tech, solar-paneled masterpieces that make the covers of architecture magazines. But the U.S. has more than 100 million existing homes, and it would be incredibly wasteful (not to mention totally unrealistic) to tear them all down and replace them with greener versions. An enormous amount of energy and resources went into the construction of those houses. And it would take an average of 65 years for the reduced carbon emissions from a new energy-efficient home to make up for the resources lost by destroying an old one. So in the broadest sense, the greenest home is the one that has already been built. But at the same time, nearly half of U.S. carbon emissions come from heating, cooling and powering our homes, offices and other buildings. “You can’t deal with climate change without dealing with existing buildings,” says Richard Moe, the president of the National Trust.

With some exceptions, the oldest homes tend to be the least energy-efficient. Houses built before 1939 use about 50% more energy per square foot than those built after 2000, mainly due to the tiny cracks and gaps that expand over time and let in more outside air.

Fortunately, there are a vast number of relatively simple changes that can green older homes, from historic ones like Lincoln’s Cottage to your own postwar home. And efficiency upgrades can save more than just the earth; they can help protect property owners from rising power costs.

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Problems with the CET

Duqin Wang (Foreign Language School, Beijing Normal University, PhD candidate) Foreign Language Test Policy and Social Development Needs:

“CET4/6, as a national examination to evaluate the attainment of the goals prescribed by College English Curriculum Requirements, belongs to the domain of public policy, and thus, like other public policies, has the functions of orientation, adjustment, value distribution, evaluation and social-related functions. However, the nature of CET4/6 does not accord with its regulations. The construction of the test is irrelevant to college English course requirement and instruction. The adoption of normal distribution violates the principle of effective teaching. The test is unable to test the comprehensive ability that society demands. What’s more, it misleads course arrangement, instruction design and course evaluation. That is to say, CET4/6 is unable to perform and in reality has not performed its policy functions. It has both low policy design validity and policy practice validity. To ensure the policy validity of CET 4/6, it is necessary to improve the organization system of the test, adopt criterion-orientation, increase the weighting of formative assessment, and focus on the evaluation of comprehensive application ability of learners. It is also necessary to establish society-adaptive curriculum standards and evaluation standards.”

The 5th International Conference on ELT in China & the 1st Congress of Chinese Applied Lingusitics

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2010 CET 4 article “Greening the Old House” from Time Magazine

Below is an analysis of an article from the 2010 CET-4 exam. The original of this article, dated April 2009, was taken from the American news magazine, Time.

Because we see that the CET test designers are using real news articles from mainstream magazines, we can see that the best way to prepare students for the CET may be to have students use these types of magazines for extensive reading.

This is significant because it means that we do not need to limit students’ reading to texts they may find boring. If the same CET words can be found in texts about Lady Gaga or Justin Berbeir, Kobe Bryant or a romantic holiday in Paris, then our students can study something interesting and learn the CET words at the same time.

Text that is crossed out (sample) was omitted from the exam. Text that is in bold (sample) was added. Text that is in red (sample) is the answers.

Going Green
Greening This Old House
By Bryan Walsh Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009

Would Abraham Lincoln have gone green? Frank Milligan thinks so. Milligan is the director of President Lincoln’s Cottage, a Gothic Revival mansion on a breezy hill a few miles from the White House, where Lincoln and his family sought relief from the summer heat during the Civil War. The cottage and its surrounding buildings were made a national monument in 2000, and in preparation for its opening last year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation carried out a multimillion-dollar renovation. But preservationists didn’t just restore the buildings. They greened them, beginning with the Beaux Arts house next door that now serves as a visitors’ center. Renovators kept 98% of the house’s existing walls, roofs and floors and used recyclable material for the rest. Large windows were put in to reduce the need for artificial lighting, and low-flow plumbing was installed to cut water waste. The renovations earned the visitors’ center a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council–and made the site a model for historic buildings in need of a face-lift. “Lincoln was always ahead of his time,” says Milligan. “And going green is the future.”

When we think of green buildings, we tend to think of new ones–the kind of high-tech, solar-paneled masterpieces that make the covers of architecture magazines. But the U.S. has more than 100 million existing homes, and it would be incredibly wasteful (not to mention totally unrealistic) to tear them all down and replace them with greener versions. An enormous amount of energy and resources went into the construction of those dwellings houses. And it would take an average of 65 years for the reduced carbon emissions from a new energy-efficient home to make up for the resources lost by demolishing destroying an old one. So in the broadest sense, the greenest home is the one that has already been built. But at the same time, nearly half of U.S. carbon emissions come from heating, cooling and powering our homes, offices and other buildings. “You can’t deal with climate change without dealing with existing buildings,” says Richard Moe, the president of the National Trust.

With some exceptions, the oldest homes tend to be the least energy-efficient. Houses built before 1939 use about 50% more energy per square foot than those built after 2000, . The main culprit? Tiny mainly due to the tiny cracks and gaps that expand over time and let in more outside air.

Fortunately, there are a tremendous number of relatively simple changes that can green older homes, from historic ones like Lincoln’s Cottage to your own postwar home abode. And efficiency upgrades can save more than just the earth; they can help shield property owners from rising power costs. Moreover, a nationwide effort to improve existing buildings could create hundreds of thousands of green jobs. (In addition to using less raw materials, renovations are often more labor-intensive per dollar spent than new construction is.) “There’s an enormous opportunity here,” says Lane Burt, an energy-policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Energy efficiency is a way to spend now to create jobs, while still saving down the line.”

The stimulus package includes some $8 billion for weatherization programs for low-income households, but that will cover only a small slice of the country’s housing stock. To promote the greening of existing buildings, the National Trust last month launched the Preservation Green Lab, a think tank based in Seattle, and is working with members of Congress to pass energy-efficiency legislation that would increase rebates and subsidies to cover as much as half the cost of a green retrofit. Such incentives are vital. Although lower utility costs mean upgrades will pay for themselves over time, the up-front cost of better insulation or double-pane windows can be prohibitive, especially during a recession.

In the meantime, you can make small changes to begin greening your home. You don’t need solar panels or rooftop wind turbines. You just need a good caulking gun. Start by thinking of your house as a submarine, and plug the leaks in your walls, doors and windows. Be sure to insulate the attic and the basement, since up to 20% of energy costs can come from heat loss in those spaces. A home energy audit is also a good idea; energysavers.gov details how to do one yourself as well as how to go about hiring a professional. So be like Lincoln and savor the summer breezes, but avoid winter drafts.

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Analysis of the CET test – Reverse Engineering

I have been reverse engineering the CET test or tracing back from the correct answer to (1) determine exactly what English was necessary to answer that question correctly and (2) how did the student acquire that English to answer the question correctly.

Below is part of the analysis that I did of the June 2010 CET-4 test “Reading Comprehension”.

Surprisingly, there are many questions that need almost no special vocabulary knowledge. For example, below is the beginning of the reading passage and question #1. When you study this passage and the question you realize that all the student needs to do is to see in the passage the word “but” and match “constant complaints” and “daughters” to three words in the question, “daughters’ repeated complaints”.

Everything else in the passage is a distracter but to answer the question correctly requires no complicated English.

Out of ten questions, four questions were simply matching up words and required almost no vocabulary knowledge. Four questions required knowledge of general vocabulary. Only 2 required knowledge of some advanced vocabulary words.

Caught in the Web

A few months ago, it wasn’t unusual for 47-year-old Carla Toebe to spend 15 hours per day online. She’d wake up early, turn on her laptop and chat on Internet dating sites and instant-messaging programs – leaving her bed for only brief intervals. Her household bills piled up, along with the dishes and dirty laundry, but it took near-constant complaints from her four daughters before she realized she had a problem.

“I was starting to feel like my whole world was falling apart – kind of slipping into a depression,” said Carla. “I knew that if I didn’t get off the dating sites, I’d just keep going,” detaching herself further from the outside world.

1. What eventually made Carla Toebe realize she was spending too much time on the Internet?

A) Her daughters’ repeated complaints. <- correct answer – find “but” then connect “constant complaints” to “repeated complaints” and “daughters” to “daughters” – easy

B) Fatigue resulting from lack of sleep.

C) The poorly managed state of her house.

D) The high financial costs adding up.

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CET preparation strategies – Push or Pull? The Yao Ming solution

Can studying about Yao Ming actually help our students learn and remember more useful words for the CET test than studying former tests? Must we use boring materials to teach our students with or can we use something interesting, even fascinating to teach with? How important is it to use materials that are interesting to our students?

Further analysis of the text used in the CET test offers more ideas on the approach to use in preparing students for the CET. When we analyze the vocabulary of the CET article I told you about previously, “Caught in the Web”, we can find what types of words are needed to understand a CET text. When we understand what types of words are needed we can then examine other texts to see if they would be suitable.

In fact, if we can find texts that are not only suitable but extremely interesting, it will make our job as teachers easier as we will not need to “push” our students so much into learning as their interest in the text will “pull” them in.

Below is the vocabulary analysis of two texts, the CET article titled “Caught in the Web” and a text about Yao Ming and the globalization of sports [1]. You can see from this analysis that the text about Yao Ming actually has more target words than the CET article has. Here we are defining target words as words from the Academic Word List (ie: administrator, adults, analyst, approaches) as well as Off-List words (ie: accomplish, addicted, abdicates, anecdotal).[2]

CET percent Yao percent
Target words (AWL + Off-List Words) 13.99 15.53
(AWL – Academic Word List) 5.15 4.17
(Off-List Words) 8.84 11.36
K1 Words – first 1000 common words & names 80.17 79.71
K2 Words – second 1000 common words 5.83 4.76

But aren’t these words from an article about Yao Ming and sports dominated by sports words that may not be useful for CET preparation? No. In the article about Yao Ming and sports there are only four pure sports words. All the other words are excellent words for all kinds of topics.

What this research suggests to us is not that our students need to study about Yao Ming to pass the CET test. But it suggests to us that we can make use of the students powerful interest in their favorite topics — perhaps basketball and travel for boys, perhaps movies and fashion for girls – to make our students encounter very important CET vocabulary in a way that will be more interesting and easier for them to learn and remember.

To put it another way, we do not need to “push” our students into the vocabulary they need to pass the test but we can let students’ interests “pull” them into the vocabulary they need to pass the test.

Notes:

[1] “The Whole World Is Watching”, story from the number one sports magazine in the United States, “Sports Illustrated”:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1032264/index.htm

For the analysis, the first 1100 words, roughly the same length as the CET article, of the story were used.

[2] These target words are the important words that our students will need to deal with the CET tests. Let’s take a look at some of the target words from these two texts.

CET vocabulary for “Caught in the Web” (total 87 words)

Academic Word List vocabulary (43 words) : administrator, adults, brief, cited, communities, computer, conclusion, conducted, consensus, constant, constitutes, culture, defined, depressed, depression, edition, environment, established, establishment, generated, goals, intervals, intervention, involvement, job, journals, manual, medical, negative, network, physical, priorities, prioritize, professional, psychological, published, relaxed, reliance, researcher, researchers, respondents, site, sites, survey

Off-List Words (44 words): accomplish, addicted, backaches, blogs, boyfriend, chat, clinics, conceal, detaching, diagnostic, disorder, disorders, gambling, gamers, gaming, household, hygiene, infancy, internet, irritable, laptop, laundry, messaging, mood, mortgage, nonessential, offline, online, overdoing, overuse, overusers, patients, popped, porn, preoccupied, professor, psychiatrist, relief…because, scores, skeptical, skipping, specializing, symptoms, website, websites.

CET vocabulary for “The Whole World is Watching” (about Yao Ming and the Globalization of Sports) (total 134 words)

Academic Word List vocabulary ( 39 words): analyst, approaches, author, chart, commissioner, computer, consumer, contracts, cultural, designs, despite, distributor, domain, domestic, dominant, economist, evidence, expanding, features, finally, generate, globalization, goal, instituted, labor, majority, minor, monitors, overseas, periodic, plus, policy, predict, revenue, sources, team, tradition, transporting, ultimate.

Off-List Words (95 words): abdicates, anecdotal, arc, auxiliary, ballpark, blank, bounce, brand, buzzword, capitalized, charismatic, clients, colonizing, compelling, departed, depict, digital, doll, dribbling, drug, dunking, eclipse, emperor, festooned, franchise, gilded, globalized, goods, hails, headquarters, households, huge, iconic, knickknack, kronor, launching, leagues, legacy, legitimate, levitating, lieutenants, lobby, lucrative, lunching, marketplace, medieval, merchandise, monstrous, moribund, numberers, outposts, overnight, packaged, plateau, platforms, playoffs, prominent, provenance, quintessential, rebellions, reign, renowned, roster, satellite, satellites, scorers, shepherded, slickly, snowbound, soccer, solidified, sponsorships, sprawling, staggering, stares, staved, teen, teenager, telecasts, telegenic, television, tenfold, throne, tiny, traffic, transcend, tripled, vanguard, visionary, weighted, wends, widen, workday, worldwide, zones. (Pure sports words: ballpark, dunking, leagues, soccer)

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Where do CET articles come from and how are they changed?

Below is an analysis of an article from the 2010 CET-4 exam. The original of this article, dated November 2006, was taken from the American newspaper, Washington Post.

The first important question that comes to mind from this is the fact that the source material for the CET-4 is coming from realia, real news media. This suggests to us that perhaps the best strategic plan for Chinese students to prepare for the exam is extensive reading of realia like newspapers and magazines.

Text that is crossed out (sample) was omitted from the exam. Text that is in bold (sample) was added.

Caught in the Web

More People Say Heavy Internet Use Is Disrupting Their Lives, and Medical Experts Are Paying Attention

By January W. Payne – Washington Post Staff Writer – Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A few months ago, it wasn’t unusual for 47-year-old Carla Toebe to spend 15 hours per day online. She’d wake up early, turn on her laptop and chat on Internet dating sites and instant-messaging programs — leaving her bed for only brief intervals. Her household bills piled up, along with the dishes and dirty laundry, but it took near-constant complaints from her four daughters before she realized she had a problem.

“I was starting to feel like my whole world was falling apart — kind of slipping into a depression,” said Carla the Richland, Wash., resident. “I knew that if I didn’t get off of the dating sites, I would just keep going,” detaching herself further from the outside world.

Toebe’s conclusion: She felt like she was “addicted” to the Internet. She’s not alone.

Concern about excessive Internet use — variously termed problematic Internet use, Internet addiction, pathological Internet use, compulsive Internet use and computer addiction in some quarters, and vigorously dismissed as a fad illness in others — isn’t new. As far back as 1995, articles in medical journals and the establishment of a Pennsylvania treatment center for overusers generated interest in the subject. There’s still no consensus on how much time online constitutes too much or whether addiction is possible.

But as reliance on the Web grows — Internet users average about 3 1/2 hours online each day, according to a 2005 survey by Stanford University researchers — there are signs that the question is getting more serious attention: Last month, a study published in CNS Spectrums, an international neuropsychiatric medicine journal, claimed to be the first large-scale look at excessive Internet use. The American Psychiatric Association may consider listing Internet addiction in the next edition of its diagnostic manual. And scores of online discussion boards have popped up on which people discuss negative experiences tied to too much time on the Web.

“There’s no question that there are people who are seriously in trouble because of the fact that they’re overdoing their Internet involvement,” said psychiatrist Ivan K. Goldberg, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York. Goldberg calls the problem a disorder rather than a true addiction, which Merriam-Webster’s medical dictionary defines as a “compulsive physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance.”

Jonathan Bishop, a researcher in Wales specializing in online communities, is more skeptical. “The Internet is an environment,” he said. “You can’t be addicted to the environment.” Bishop, who has had several articles published on the topic, describes the problem as simply a matter of priorities, which can be solved by encouraging people to prioritize other life goals and plans in place of time spent online.

The new CNS Spectrums study was based on results of a nationwide telephone survey of more than 2,500 adults. Like the 2005 survey, this one was conducted by Stanford University researchers. About 6 percent of respondents reported that “their relationships suffered as a result of excessive Internet use,” according to the study. About 9 percent attempted to conceal “nonessential Internet use,” and nearly 4 percent reported feeling “preoccupied by the Internet when offline.”

About 8 percent said they used the Internet as a way to escape problems, and almost 14 percent reported they “found it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time,” the study reported.

“The Internet problem is still in its infancy,” said lead study author Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist and director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford professor. No single online activity is to blame for excessive use, he said. “They’re online in chat rooms, checking e-mail every two minutes, or writing blogs. It really runs the gamut. [The problem is] not limited to porn or gambling” Web sites websites.

In the 2005 survey, conducted by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, single people and younger people were more likely to use the Internet than others. Survey participants reported that an hour spent online reduced face time with family members by nearly 24 minutes; an hour on the Internet reduced sleep time by about 12 minutes.

More than half the time spent online involved communication (including chat rooms, e-mail and instant messaging), the report said; the rest of the time is spent updating personal Web pages and browsing news groups, social networking and dating Web sites, as well as other sites.

Hints of Trouble

Excessive Internet use should be defined not by the number of hours spent online but “in terms of losses,” said Maressa Hecht Orzack, a Harvard University professor and director of Computer Addiction Services at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., founded in 1995. “If it is a loss [where] you are not getting to work, and family relationships are breaking down as a result around it and this is something you can’t handle, then it’s too much.”

Since the early 1990s, several clinics have been established in the United States to treat heavy Internet users. They include the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, in Bradford, Pa., and the Connecticut-based Center for Internet Behavior.

The Web site website for Orzack’s center lists the following among the psychological symptoms of computer addiction:

· Having a sense of well-being or euphoria excitement while at the computer.

· Craving Longing for more and more time at the computer.

· Neglect of family and friends.

· Feeling empty, depressed or irritable when not at the computer.

· Lying to employers and family about activities.

· Inability to stop the activity.

· Problems with school or job.

Physical symptoms listed include dry eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, backaches, skipping meals, poor personal hygiene and sleep disturbances.

If college settings are any example, excessive Internet use may be a growing problem. Jonathan Kandell, assistant director of the counseling center at the University of Maryland at College Park — one of the first universities to offer a support group for this type of behavior in the 1990s — said that surveys of students who seek counseling show an increase in those reporting that “they either always or often had trouble controlling themselves on the Internet.” In the late 1990s, about 2 to 3 percent reported that problem; in 2005 and 2006 surveys, the figure has increased to about 13 percent, Kandell said.

The APA is considering whether to take up this issue when it updates its official manual of psychiatric disorders in 2012, said William E. Narrow, associate director of the association’s division of research. If such behaviors begin affecting a person’s life and “they feel like they can’t stop, [then] that’s the type of thing that we would start to have concerns about,” Narrow said. It’s also important to consider, “Are there any other disorders that can account for the behavior?”

Many online discussion boards — with names such as Internet Addicts Anonymous, Gaming Addiction and Internet Addicts Recovery Club — focus on Internet overuse and contain posts from hundreds of members. On such boards, posters admit that they feel as though they can’t step away from their computers without feeling drawn back and that their online habits interfere with personal relationships, daily routines and their ability to concentrate on work or school. Reports of failed relationships, slipping grades and workplace problems that writers attribute to their preoccupation with the Internet are not unusual.

People who struggle with excessive Internet use may be depressed or have other mood disorders, Orzack said. When she discusses Internet habits with her patients, they often report that being online offers a “sense of belonging, an escape, excitement [and] fun,” she said. “Some people say relief . . . because they find themselves so relaxed.”

Goldberg, the New York psychiatrist, said he has seen patients “whose marriages were deteriorating who retreated behind a keyboard.” The Internet “becomes another way that people use to try to cope with their own disorder,” he said.

Less Game to Play

Some parts of the Internet seem to draw people in more than others, experts report. Internet gamers spend countless hours competing in games against people from all over the world. One such game, called World of Warcraft, which charges a $14.99 monthly subscription fee, is cited on many sites and discussion boards by posters complaining of a “gaming addiction.”

Andrew Heidrich, 28, an education network administrator from Sacramento, plays World of Warcraft for about two to four hours every other night, but that’s nothing compared with the 40 to 60 hours a week he spent playing online games when he was in college. He cut back only after a full-scale family intervention, in which relatives told him he’d gained weight and had become “like a zombie.”

“There’s this whole culture of competition that sucks people in” with online gaming, said Heidrich, now married and a father of two. “People do it at the expense of everything that was a constant in their lives.” Heidrich now visits Web sites that discuss gaming addiction regularly “to remind myself to keep my love for online games in check.”

Toebe also regularly visits a site where posters discuss Internet overuse. In August, when she first realized she had a problem, she posted a message on a Yahoo Internet addiction group with the subject line: “I have an Internet Addiction.”

I am I’m self-employed and need the Internet for my work, but I am failing to accomplish my work, to take care of my home, to give attention to my children who have been complaining for months,” she wrote in a message sent to the group, which had more than 300 members as of last week. “I have no money or insurance to get professional help, ; I am not making money, I can’t even pay my mortgage and face losing everything.”

Since then, Toebe said, she has kept her promise to herself to cut back on her Internet use. “I have a boyfriend now, and I’m not interested in [online] dating,” she said by phone last week. “It’s a lot better now.”

Carla the Richland, Wash., resident. “I
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