Despite the potential time and financial drain online games can leave in their wake, virtual spending isn't the worst danger out there.
"If you are going to have an Internet addiction," Benson says, "FarmVille is much healthier than eBay or HSN. It is likely to keep someone from something worse." The time and energy drain that is a hand-in-hand companion of playing online games is secondary, Benson says, to something such as online gambling, shopping or pornography.
She points out the fact that, despite its targeting those who may be weakest to resist it, the way the pricing is set up actually minimizes the spending dangers. The truth is, Benson says, "there are some people who, if they weren't buying compulsively, might be shooting up heroin. I would rather see them go to FarmVille, the lesser evil."
The real issue here, she says, is people are "interacting," sometimes up to 20 hours per day, but they are not connecting with real people. "You can never get enough of what you don't really need, and what they need is a real farm, real people, real interaction."