DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I am addicted to the Internet. I do everything on the computer -- surf the Web, watch TV and movies, listen to music, even interact with my friends through Facebook, Skype and instant messaging. I don't want to become a couch potato, but the Internet is so important to my life and the lives of most of my friends that it is almost as if I don't have a choice but to use the computer a lot.
How can I limit my computer usage without falling behind socially? -- Plugged In, Flint, Mich.
DEAR PLUGGED IN: I have a revolutionary idea: Use the Internet to invite your friends to meet you at a place where you can physically be in one another's company. Make the activity appealing so that your friends will be intrigued enough to show up. Once the event is successful, it will be easier to get people to come out for another activity.
Essentially, you will be reminding people how rewarding shared, face-to-face experiences can be.
Additionally, I recommend that you ration your time on the Internet. Decide that you will step away from the computer for social encounters, for rest, for chores and for you-time independent of it. I believe your social contacts will be curious about why you aren't as plugged in as before and seek you out. You may win bigger than you can even imagine.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a high school senior, and I plan to attend a four-year university in the fall. I am supposed to be designating my preferred housing option now, including whether I want a roommate. At my school, if one requests a single room, he or she will probably get it.
I am tempted to ask for a single because I would appreciate the space and privacy. However, nearly all freshmen live in doubles or triples, and I am afraid I will be missing out on the quintessential first-year experience if I don't have a roommate. Is it worth sacrificing the convenience of a single? -- Future Freshman
DEAR FUTURE FRESHMAN: The good news is that you probably don't have to have a roommate all four years, since as a freshman you are being given the option of a single room. (Many colleges and universities require freshmen to have at least one roommate.)
Since you are intrigued by the social experience of welcoming a roommate, I say, go for it. Be aware that you may have a broad range of experiences -- from fun and exciting to frustrating and boring. Savor them all. Then, when your sophomore year comes, you can decide if you want to share again or go solo.