America’s First Internet-Addiction Center Is Open for Business

Heavensfield claims it’ll ween you off of constantly checking your Facebook and e-mail, for the bargain price of $17,000.



Are you restless when away from your Internet-enabled devices? Are you moody or irritable if you haven’t checked your email? Do you pass up sex or food or friends to squeeze in an extra five hours on World of Warcraft? Then you just might be Internet addicted. ReStart is here to help.

The ReStart program, at its “Heavensfield” center near Seattle, aims to cure you of Internet addiction in 45 days, for a mere $17,000. Yup, that’s right: Even though many doubt whether the phenomenon is real, some canny capitalists psychologists are banking that its real enough that people will pay to rid themselves of it. The first group of patients is about to enter the program, after an initial period of test cases.

This of course follows news of such clinics in China–where one kid was reportedly beaten to death. ReStart is far more New Age-y though: Treatments apparently involve spending time away from the computer–running, doing yoga, and meditating–finding “greater meaning in life.” In other words, paying someone to do what your mom would admonish, and get outside.

A 19-year-old high schooler was reportedly the first guinea pig. He’s got 20 days left in an intensive 10-week session. Though info-saturation is presumably one of the core-ills that it aims to treat, Ben Alexander still found enough time to tell a reporter about his ailment, which apparently culminated in him barely attending classes during his Freshman year, as he whiled away the hours in his dorm room. Previously, he tried a substance abuse program, to no avail.

Which really makes us wonder: Is Internet addiction a real problem, or is it merely symptomatic of deeper problems? Having a hard time finding interest in other people seems like an age-old problem, for maladjusted kids especially. Is the Internet really that different from Star Wars or Dungeons & Dragons (the preferred venues for solitary geekery in our day)? Does the presence of an ever-churning flow of informational crack make the Internet a different beast?

[Via Digital Trends]


About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.