The internet, one of wonders of the modern age, is in fact a place of sordid and unhealthy addiction, according to a leading psychiatrist.

Dr Jerald Block of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland wants obsessive internet use to be officially recognised as a clinical disorder.

British psychiatrists have previously reported that up to 10 per cent of internet users are addicts who spend unhealthy amounts of time playing online games, viewing porn or emailing causing them to forgo food and sleep and ‘craving’ the very latest technologies.

Akin to other ‘addicts,’ sufferers experience withdrawal symptoms, a “disconnect anxiety,” a loss of a sense of time and negative social repercussions.

Some require medication or hospital treatment to deal with the problem.

Block told the American Journal of Psychiatry: “The relationship is with the computer. It becomes a significant other to them.

“They exhaust emotions that they could experience in the real world on the computer through any number of mechanisms: emailing, gaming, porn.

“It’s much more acceptable for kids to talk about game use, whereas adults keep it a secret. Rather than having sex, or arguing with their wife or husband, or feeding their children, these adults are playing games.”