Singapore

Doc: Female Net addiction rare but on the rise

Though it is still unusual, a psychiatrist in private practice said he has seen an increase in the number of cases involving Internet addiction and online sexual activities among women over the past three years.

"I've seen cases where the husband is able to provide tons of evidence in court - pictures, scans and sometimes even sexually explicit photos," said Dr Munidasa Winslow, who specialises in dealing with addictions at Promises Healthcare.

He cited a case where he was called to court to assess the woman's suitability as a parent.

In the case, the woman felt her husband had all the control in their relationship.

Wanting to feel powerful, she surfed websites with dominatrix themes and got hooked.

During their divorce proceedings, her husband produced overwhelming evidence she had visited these adult-themed sites.

DOMINATRIX

He also argued that she had dominatrix tendencies and was therefore an unsuitable parent.

Internet addiction, especially cyber gaming, however, is still more prevalent among the young.

When it happens with adults, it is usually because they are depressed and have problems with their work and relationships, say psychiatrists.

Dr Winslow said women get addicted to the Internet for three reasons.

"When they are online, they feel like they are in control - a complete opposite to how they feel in real life.

"Pornography or online games could have a numbing effect on their emotions.

"Lastly, they feel that the fantasy world is much better than the real world."

He said that addiction to online pornography is less common among women. Instead, they usually turn to relationship sites.

"For women, it's not just about sex. They want to feel appreciated and rewarded.

"So it usually starts with chatting, before it gets more sexually explicit."

Dr Thomas Lee, who treats addiction cases at The Resilienz Clinic, said that he hardly comes across adult female Internet addicts but it could be due to the stigma of seeking help, especially if their online activities are of a sexual nature.

"Men have sought help for porn addiction and they have told me that they watch porn with their wives.

"Female Internet addicts might be rare, in terms of those who come forward to seek help.

"But with the increased use of technology, including online porn, mobile games and social media, problems will exist.

"Initially, the spouse might close one eye, but when the divide becomes too wide, and conflicts too many, they will start to seek help."