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Students have swapped beer for the Net, with up to fifteen per cent claiming Internet addiction is hurting their studies.

A survey, carried out on students at Rutgers University in New Jersey, found first years were most likely to see their work suffer due to uncontrollable Net use.

Of the 570 students quizzed, between ten and fifteen per cent reported feeling that they were "not in complete control of their Internet use" and felt it had affected their studies.

"Many students are away from home for the first extended period in their lives and adjustment to college life is often a struggle, particularly making new friends," said Robert Kubey, a developmental psychologist involved in the study.

"First-year students are particularly likely to use the Internet to remain in contact with their high school friends."

The report, published in the June issue of the Journal of Communication, also found that students who claimed Net use damaged their work spent around five times more hours surfing than other students.

Meanwhile, a separate study out today reckons surfers are wasting up to eight million online hours a week fruitlessly scanning Internet search engines for information they cannot find.

The report, carried out to mark the launch of the UK's FlickDotCom Directory, found that nearly two-thirds of people felt they wasted up to an hour a week looking for elusive sites on the Web.

FlickDotCom is a free paper directory for Websites - kind of like a Yellow Pages for the Internet. Great idea, but due to the fast-paced dotcom world, by the time it lands on the nation's doorsteps chances are that many of its entries will sadly be out of date. ®

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