More and more people are spending time with Internet games--whether they're living in 3-D virtual worlds playing Second Life and There, or having fun with simpler Facebook games such as FarmVille and Cafe World.
Just this morning an NPR segment reported on the increasing number of middle age women who are playing Facebook games.
These games allow us to escape reality and enter virtual realities where we can live out our dreams -- driving fancy cars, opening restaurants, setting up fish tanks.
But are these games leading people to neglect their own realities?
You might assume those with addictions to these games do a little less housework or order more take-out, but a story of a South Korean couple and their baby is showing that spending time online can lead you to neglect far more important things, and lead to terrible tragedies.
A South Korean couple nurtured, Anima, a young girl in the game Prius Online, and failed to care for their own baby.
The couple left their 3-month-old daughter alone for 12-hour intervals while they went to a cyber cafe to play an online game, according to AOL News. The 41-year-old man and 25-year-old women dropped by the house occasionally to feed the baby powdered milk.
The couple had become "obsessed with raising a virtual girl called Anima in the popular role-playing game Prius Online. The game, similar to Second Life, allows players to create another existence for themselves in a virtual world, including getting a job, interacting with other users and earning an extra avatar to nurture once they reach a certain level," according to the London Guardian.
South Korean police told reporters that the couple had lost their jobs and their baby was premature and they were using the game as an escape.
The couple has been on the run since their baby died five months ago of starvation and severe dehydration. The police tracked them down last week and arrested them.
"I wish that she hadn't got sick and that she will live well in heaven forever. And as the father, I am sorry," the father told the South Korean Yonhap News Agency.
"They instead played an online game in which they raised a virtual character so as to escape from reality, which led to the death of their real baby," Chung Jin-won, a police officer in Suwon, told Yonhap News Agency.
This is a very extreme example of Internet addiction and obviously the South Korean couple had other issues that led them to neglect their child. But it is becoming more apparent that Internet addictions are a problem and can have dire consequences. Recent research in the UK found a link between Internet addiction and depression, according to the London Guardian.