July 25, 2006

Zurich Warns Citizens about Dangers of Internet Addiction

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's financial capital of Zurich warned Internet users on Tuesday about the dangers of addiction to chat rooms and sex sites.

The canton's Department for the Prevention of Addiction has launched a poster campaign and offers a self-assessment questionnaire for potential addicts on its website.

"Spending lots of time in virtual worlds, especially chat rooms, online games and sex sites, can lead to a dependence comparable to other addictions," the department said in a statement.

Around 50,000 Swiss are addicted to the Internet or at risk of becoming addicted, the department said. Young people are particularly vulnerable although adults are increasingly succumbing to the lure of the Web.

"They are at risk of facing problems in their social surroundings or at the workplace," the department said. Internet addicts suffer from psychological withdrawal symptoms, it said.

From 1986 until 1992 there was an open air drug scene in Zurich's Platzspitz park, which became known as "Needle Park." Drug addicts from across Europe used to travel to the city to take advantage of the liberal drug laws there.