Yes, people talk about having an Internet addiction and chuckle. But this is becoming the real thing!
AP (3 September 2009) reports that ReSTART, the first U.S. residential treatment center for Internet addiction opened near Redmond (home of Microsoft).
The center offers a 45-day program costing $14,000 to treat pathological computer use.
This includes “obsessive use of video games, texting, Facebook, eBay, Twitter” and more.
So far only one patient is in treatment, but more are sure to be coming.
“There are many such treatment centers in China, South Korea, and Taiwan—where Internet addiction is taken very seriously—and many psychiatric experts say it is clear that Internet addiction is real and harmful.”
How does using the Internet or computer harm people?
“The effects of addiction are no joke. They range from loss of a job or marriage to car accidents for those who can’t stop texting while driving. Some people have did after playing video games for days without a break, generally stemming from a blood clot associated with being sedentary.”
Experts are debating whether to include Internet Addiction in the next version of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 2012.
“’Internet addicts’ are folks who have severe depression, anxiety, disorders, or social symptoms that make it hard for them to live a full, balanced life and deal face-to-face with other people.”
What are the warning signs (according to AP)?
- Preoccupied thinking about computers and the Internet
- Using it longer than intended
- Using it for increasing amounts of time
- Repeatedly making unsuccessful efforts to control use
- Jeopardizing relationships, school or work to spend time online
- Lying to cover the extent of use
- Using it to escape problems or feelings of depressions
I suppose everything can be taken to an extreme even computer use. In which case, even highly useful, productive, and transformative information technology can be misused and abused.
Oddly enough, we seem to be feeding the addiction like a glutton—there is an almost endless array of new computer gadgets and applications giving almost endless reason to get online and soak up all the information, social media, e-commerce, and entertainment available. It’s all very alluring and compelling.
Seems pretty easy for people to go of the deep end with this.
So when was the last time you stayed off the Internet for more than 24 hours? How many of you are compulsively checking email, Blackberrys, Facebook, Twitter, IM, texting, and surfing the net? I would even throw in compulsively on the cell phone—yap, yap, yap.
Will there come a time when people reject this 24/7/365 e-lifestyle and push for greater online moderation?
Looking at other types of addictions, at one time people smoked like chimneys and then the realization of the negative side effects led to people putting on the nicotine patches or otherwise going cold turkey, either kicking the habit or greatly cutting back.
The same occurred with a period in society of heavy drinking/alcoholism followed by prohibition and then a more moderate acceptance of social drinking.
It seems that the addiction line gets crossed when people can no longer control their behavior and it results in them hurting themselves or others.
The problem is that we don’t have very good foresight with any of this and we only tend to see the negative consequences of overuse/abuse only after some time—that the empirical nature of science.
So will we wait for a higher prevalence of socio/psychological disorders from Internet addiction, greater numbers of burnt out workers, higher divorce rates, more child neglect, further accidents because people can’t stop their darn texting while driving OR will we be able to foresee the unintended, but certain effects of doing too much of a good, Internet thing?