online_addictions_inside.jpgTragedy struck a young family earlier this month when a 13-month-old baby drowned in the bathtub while his mother was supposedly tending to her virtual restaurant on Facebook, reports Shannon Johnson is now facing charges of child abuse resulting in death, a crime which carries a prison term of up to 48 years if she is found guilty.

Shocking as this case may seem, it’s just one of the many incidents in which people have allowed their online lives to compromise their real ones. Last year, for example, a South Korean couple was arrested because they left their young child to starve to death while “raising” a virtual offspring online, as this article shares.

While these cases point out extreme situations, we do have the tendency to lose our perception of time and other priorities when we get distracted by online forums, social networking sites, games, or instant messaging. We also end up sacrificing real-world interactions and socialization for virtual relationships. Productivity goes down, time management is discarded, and sometimes, as in the article above, we hurt our loved ones—if not fatally, then emotionally.

If you find yourself hitting the “refresh” button more often than you should, or if you pass on too many girls’ nights because you’d rather spend time in your virtual cafe than in a real one, you just might be on your way to online addiction. Here are a few tips to help you compartmentalize your online life and reclaim your real one!

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