Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is the Internet Taking Over Your Life?

Image: Flickr Commons
Some people spend all night staring at a screen in a cafe, other feel depressed when they are not online. Some studies even show that internet addiction can have similar effects on the brain to those caused by drug addictions (Science in Context). Although Internet Addiction is already recognized globally as a real addiction, the US is still debating on whether or not it should be recognized as an addiction here.

Internet addiction isn’t just the amount of time people spend online. Technology is such a huge part of our everyday lives that it is hard to avoid using it. According to Opposing Viewpoints, Internet addiction is characterized by the habits of the person with it, not just the overall hours. People might spend a ton of time online but if they can still balance it with their offline social lives then they don’t have a problem. It’s when they start to lie about how long they use the Internet and when it starts to get in the way of their social lives that it becomes a problem. Many psychologists and other scientists are pushing for more research in the US to get internet addiction recognized in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5” as a serious addiction. Recently a new program was opened in a US hospital to treat internet addicts. The program costs $14,000 and must be paid ‘out of pocket’ because health insurance companies don’t pay for it since internet addiction isn’t formally recognized as a health issue. Kimberly Young, a psychologist who founded the program, notices that the most common ‘victims’ of internet addiction are young, smart, antisocial, boys and that most of them weren’t interested in social media or pornography. Most of them just wanted to play games like “World of Warcraft” where they could, “become someone else and be admired for their skills.”

In other countries, including China, internet addiction is already being treated like a serious problem. This video shows China has already come up with their own solution to internet addiction. Some of their treatments include drills similar to those done in the military and complete isolation from all access to the internet. The cases that they see in these ‘boot camps’ are often much more extreme than what is seen in the US because the US seems to be behind China in terms of number and severity of internet addiction cases. One of the people working at the camp says, “[Some of the people here] think taking a restroom break will affect their performance at these games. So they wear a diaper." A few of the boys that were interviewed in the video were crying because they felt ashamed of using the internet so much. Many of them said that they had refused to admit that they had a problem and many of their parents had to trick them into going to the camp to get help. One boys' parents had to go as far as to drug him with sleeping medicine to get him to the camp. It is because of this that some of the adults working the camp, “call it electronic heroin.” However the camp does not only address the people who are addicted to the internet, they also hold seminars for the families of the patients to inform them on what they can do to help and why they might be doing it in the first place.

On the other hand there are people who are showing others that they can control themselves when it comes to internet use. Many people have started committing what they call ‘virtual identity suicide’ and deleting all of their social media accounts. Studies have been conducted that show that the people who do delete their social media tend to be more cautious about their online privacy and tend to be more agreeable in general. Most of the people who do commit virtual identity suicide are males and are older on average. This is not the only way people have been showing that they can show their self control online. In this article Melissa Maypole, head of a company that offers parental control software, talks about how her family dealt with technology trying to take over in their lives. Maypole said one day she and her whole family were all sitting in the same room and none of them took any notice of each other because they were all on their own electronic devices. This is when she realized that they needed to do something as a family to limit their use of the internet. Maypole knew that with todays modern technology it would be nearly impossible to not use electronics at all so they decided to incorporate them into their family life. As a family they decided that some individual time of the internet was okay and that they should also take to time to put down the electronics and unplug as a family. They also decided to find some games they could play as a family on their electronics to find a ‘compromise’ between family time and electronics.

All of these stories show that internet addiction really is a problem. Some people can recognize when enough is enough and balance internet use in their lives. However, there are still people who need help balancing their online and offline lives.

Hutchinson, Alex. "Seeing Addiction." Popular Machanics. Science in Context,
Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

"Quitting Facebook -- what's behind the new trend to leave social networks?"
Opposing Viewpoints in Context. N.p., 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.

In conclusion, I think that doing this project and writing this blog post was a very interesting experience. It feels good to know that there is a way to get my opinions heard and spread awareness on causes that I care about. Its also nice to know that there are people out there who also care about what I care about. The whole process of writing a blog was challenging, from finding an interesting topic to the research to writing the actual post and posting it. I do think that Internet addiction is a real issue and that it should be addressed. The people who commented on my blog really did change my thinking on this in a way. They helped me clarify that the Internet is dangerous to everyone, not just young males into gaming. Also that it is not something to be avoided because it can become dangerous. Even though you should still use the Internet with caution it is still a useful tool as long as it is used properly.

10 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading this article. Personally I think the best part is that is sounds so professional and the picture at the beginning. But besides that, at some points in the article it sounds like you're making the internet sound like a really bad thing and that you should never do it from the beginning.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jill, Thank you for reading my post. I would just like to clarify that I am not trying to get people to quit the Internet for good and I'm not trying to say that it is a bad thing. I am simply saying that it is something that should be used with caution. To much of anything can be a bad thing after all.
      --Dragon99

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  2. I found your article to be very thoughtful, Dragon99. It seems significant that the people who are committing "virtual identify suicide" are mainly older adult males but that the examples of extreme behavior are "young, smart antisocial boys." Would this indicate that diagnosis and treatment are necessary for a certain demographic, because we can't all wait until we're older to get our lives in balance? How big a problem is this for young people? Do we know how many are suffering from the problem? Thank you for raising the issue of addiction. --Ms. Riches

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  3. I thought your article was very interesting. I actually question myself if I'm addicted to the internet sometimes. I'm actually one of the people who commit "virtual identity suicide". I have deleted many of my unused accounts on various websites. Do you think that Internet addiction is a real physical problem like drugs? Thanks for sharing your opinion.

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    Replies
    1. Hi LovelyDuck14, thanks for reading my post. There have been scientific studies that show the effects of Internet addiction on the brain and they are shockingly similar to the effects of drugs. Here is the URL of an article that talks about the effects of internet addiction. http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/19/study-internet-addicts-suffer-withdrawal-symptoms-like-drug-users/
      --Dragon99

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  4. Hello, Dragon99!
    I thought your article was very fascinating, and it provided me with great insight of this controversial issue. I find it quite interesting that mainly young males are affected with Internet Addiction. Has there been any cases amongst young females? If not, why so? Also, do you think that the US is reluctant to recognize Internet Addiction as a real addiction; if so, why? Thank you for informing me about this prevalent issue. -VolleyDolly7

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    Replies
    1. Hi VolleyDolly7, I'm glad you read my article. I have no doubt that there are cases of internet addiction among girls too, its just that it has been more commonly diagnosed in boys. The US has not yet recognized Internet addiction because there is not enough research or evidence for it and the people studying it, as said in the following article, (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/hospital-opens-internet-addiction-treatment-program/story?id=20146923&s
      inglePage=true) didn't want to recognize it just to create another addiction.
      --Dragon99

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  5. Hello Dragon99,
    I found your post to be very intriguing. I had no idea that internet addiction could become that bad. I think that you should use the internet because it can be very helpful, but you definitively need to balance your time on it. Do you think that if family's worked together like Maypole's family did and balanced out their internet use this would become less of a problem? Thanks for sharing your article.
    -PACO

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    1. Hi PACO, Thanks for reading my post I'm glad you found it intriguing. I do think that if families worked together that things might improve, but for things to get better it requires that the people admit that they have a problem. Like it said in this video (http://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000002657962/chinas-web-junkies.html?playlistId=119481162218
      2) people aren't always willing to admit to being addicted to the internet.
      --Dragon99

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  6. Nice Post! The information you provided are really beneficial. Thank you for sharing and for providing nice ideas.
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    ReplyDelete

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