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Queens man lives in bathroom to cut off tech addiction

Enter bathroom. Lock door. Kick Web addiction.

A 34-year-old Astoria comedian is flushing his digital dependency by holing up in his bathroom for five days, with the wacky campaign kicking off in the tiled, pink room Monday.

“I fell like I was losing control and needed to do something extreme,” said Mark Malkoff, while sitting in the tub that now doubles as his bed.

All jokes aside, Internet addiction has become a serious problem, with the potential to strain relationships, rob sleep and fuel other compulsions such as gambling and pornography, psychologists say.

“You can lose your bearings of what’s going on with your life,” said Peter Kanaris, coordinator for public education at the New York State Psychological Association.

Some New Yorkers are fighting back by getting off the tech-grid entirely.

“We’re making ourselves sick by constantly being connected,” said Ann Webster, a Manhattan psychologist, who swears off technology on Sundays. “It’s very refreshing.”

One New Yorker we spoke to said Malkoff is setting a good example.

“We are too addicted,” said Chris Parker, 22, of Queens. “It’s cool that someone’s putting a spotlight on it. I should probably cut back, too.”

Others, though, weren’t quite ready to drop their tech gear.

“I don’t think it’s a problem,” said Lauren Burkh, 28, of Queens. “I depend on my BlackBerry for work, life and everything.” In recent years, Malkoff had become a full-blown tech addict, checking his iPhone constantly and flipping through Twitter, Facebook and the Drudge Report all day.

The prankster has had previous similar schemes to live in unusual places, including sleeping in an Ikea store.

While he spends the next few days in his “new apartment,” Malkoff’s storing his clothes in a shower caddy and keeping his food in the bathroom cabinets. To pass all his new free time, Malkoff intends to read a friend’s screenplay, write letters to friends and finish a book proposal.

When his wife needs to use the bathroom, he’ll gather up his sleeping bag and then go right back in after she’s done.

“I’m not quite thrilled with this inconvenience in my life,” said Christine Peel-Malkoff, 32.

As of yesterday afternoon, Malkoff was feeling a bit anxious about his bold move into his loo.

“It’s a lot harder than I was expecting,” he said.


Dealing with your tech addiction:

- Recognize if you have a problem. Are things not getting done around the house? Are your relationships strained?

- Put time limits on Web surfing. Don’t check your phone while having a face-to-face conversation with someone. Put the BlackBerry away during dinner.

- Take an “electronic-free” day or part of a day periodically. Lock away the phone and reconnect with other parts of life. The calls and messages can wait.

Source: Peter Kanaris, clinical psychologist and coordinator for public education at the New York State Psychological Association

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