English writing public service announcements for radio
26 January 2010
Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)
The social impact of the Internet in man??™s life
1 The Internet has become a great benefit for our society, but it would be neglectful to dismiss its two-pronged effect on the world population. One the one hand the Internet is very positive in the sense that it keeps the world informed and updated, but one the other hand it has evolved into a very harmful and detrimental entertainment for adolescents who spend many hours in front of a computer in cyber cafe or at their own homes.
2 The Internet and mobile technology are increasingly important to the educational and social lives of children, and are becoming a part of children??™s identity. With the advent of broadband and mobile access to the Internet giving young people access to the Internet any place and at any time, and thus 24/7 entertainment, interaction and communication, there is a real risk that children can become so immersed in their online world that it can seem to take over their lives. It is easy to see why some children and young people love spending many hours pursuing their interests, playing games, finding information and communicating with friends (and strangers) online. However, when this use becomes obsessive and at the expense of other aspects of a young person??™s life, this use of the Internet could be problematic and could even be classified as Internet addiction.
3 Socially speaking, the Internet has created a destructive addiction, especially in adolescents. In Argentina, the use of Internet is not regulated. Anyone can invest money and set up a cyber cafe. Adolescents take advantage of this fact to surf the net with no restrictions. They surf pornographic pages and chat with people they do not even know and who will probably never meet in the real world in the famous chat rooms. They also use Internet to play games on line which are highly addictive and violent.
4 However, addiction may not be about the attractiveness of the Internet alone. It is recognized that Internet addiction may also ???be symptomatic of other problems such as depression, anger and low self-esteem”.
5 The problems associated with internet addiction:
? Skipping meals, losing sleep and time for other things, even
? Rearranging daily routines and neglecting studies or other activities and responsibilities to spend more time online
? This has the potential to affect school performance and relationships with friends or family
? There may be financial problems depending on the nature of the communication ??“ e.g. dial-up
connection or text messages ??“ and the activity online ??“ e.g. paying for content, gambling and
? There are also physical problems associated with bad diet, lack of exercise and also with extended computer use (for example dry eyes, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and backache)
6 Researchers in Taiwan have argued that more than 20 hours per week constitutes Internet addiction. This figure has been echoed in the research conducted in the U.S. and Europe. This is a similar level to television addiction with the average person watching in the region of 11-13 hours per week and those addicted watching in excess of 21 hours per week. However, time is not the only indicator of problematic Internet use.
7 Studies on Internet addiction originated in the US by Dr. Kimberly Young, who presented the first research on Internet addiction in 1996 at the American Psychological Association??™s annual conference held in Toronto in her paper ???Internet Addiction: The Emergence of a New Disorder???. Since then, studies have documented Internet addiction in a growing number of countries such as Italy, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Reports also indicate that Internet addiction has become a serious public health concern in China, Korea, and Taiwan. Treatment centers have emerged across the US and abroad. It is difficult to estimate how widespread the problem is. A nationwide study conducted by a team from Stanford University??™s School of Medicine had estimated that nearly one in eight Americans suffer from at least one sign of problematic Internet use.
8 Many adolescents at high school suffer from Internet Addiction. This addiction is conceived of as a compulsive behavior, or craving for connectedness. Computer use is increasingly becoming integrated into daily life, and so both the temptations and opportunities for “addiction” seem to continue increasing especially in adolescents who are undergoing family or personality problems or just find in the Internet the companion they do not have in their lives. Are all teens susceptible to this danger No. Some will always be casual users; some may just go through phases of intense internet use. The ones who do fall prey to the net most likely are experiencing problems in their real lives. Cyberspace becomes an escape, a place to vent, a place to act out or even cry out for help.
9 Academic performance at school is another aspect to consider when dealing with adolescents who are addicted to the Internet. They definitely do not go to school. They leave home to go to school but they never get there. They lie to their parents and stay in cyber cafes which are near schools.
10 Internet addicted adolescents escape from reality and they lose contact with many aspects of real life. There is a withdrawal from friends and they show a declining interest in hobbies or sports. Online friends and on line games take the place of the “real” world. They also show little interest in their personal aspect. They display a decline in their appearance or hygiene.
11 Internet addiction can cause a long-lasting damage to adolescents who are caught in the Net. An old theory about adolescence proclaimed that it is a period of “storm and stress.” The pressures of school, family and friends often make adolescents feel pity about their lives. They need to vent it somewhere. It is parents and also teachers task to listen to them so as to prevent them from becoming internet addicts.
12 Broken marriages, lost jobs, failing school grades and forgetting to eat are just some of the consequences being reported in media articles as the experience of people who feel they have become addicted to Internet interpersonal communicating. It is the social aspect of computer assisted communication, the interpersonal exchange with others, that is so stimulating, rewarding and reinforcing that some people are finding it hard to know when to stop. Cyberspace communications (email discussion groups, chat rooms, bulletin boards) offer people an opportunity to experience a form of social contact, with no real social presence. The significant difference between cyberspace relationships and ones maintained by other existing technologies (telephones, mail, faxs) is that the new culture values of Internet virtual communities have as social norms ones that allow for, and even encourage, contact with relative strangers.
13 Technological advancements in communication tools have opened a new domain in social interactivity. It is now possible, from the privacy and sanctity of ones own home, to publish ones ideas to hundreds or thousands of other people, and receive instant and delayed feedback from across vast distances. This in a new development, and is now supplementing the traditional mass media, with it??™s from one to many” format, with a “from many to many” format, for millions of Internet users world wide. This is a categorically different form of human interaction, one that is too recent and still changing too fast, for its implications to be fully cognizant to even the oldest members of on-line virtual communities. IAD is not like other forms of behavioral addiction, because it involves interaction with others in the context of this new, scarcely researched medium.
14 Virtual relationships are mobile, can be very supportive, and have minimal risk compared to potential gains.? People using the Internet to form new relations are engaged in a new, stimulating and reinforcing activity. It is reasonable to expect a high percentage of new users to become more or less passionate for some period of time when first exposed to the possibilities of long distance friendships and the status equality inherent in virtual forums. It is clear from this review of research efforts that the time determinate in the diagnostic criteria for IAD is a very important, and it is only the continued focus on on-line involvements, across a significant period of time in which real life losses occur, that marks IAD as a pathological condition, as opposed to a freely chosen passion.
? Gramajo, Robert. ???Internet in High School??? Essay 14 November 2006
? Childnet International 2006 ???Facsheet: Internet Addiction???
? The Center for Internet Addiction, Homepage < http://www.netaddiction.com/>
? Young, Kimberly. ???Internet Addiction: The Emergence of a New Disorder???, in 1996 at the American Psychological Association??™s annual conference held in Toronto.
? Grohol, John M. “Internet addiction guide”, April 16, 2005
? Walther, Joseph B. ???Communication Addiction: Concern over Media, Behavior and Effects???
? Grohol, John M. ???How Much is Too Much When Spending Time Online???, October 17, 1997
? Storm A. King. ???Is the Internet Addictive, or Are Addicts Using the Internet???, December, 1996