Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Internet Addicted? The Addiction Could Lead To Disorders

image by svilen001, sxc.hu


Excessive Obsession With The Internet Is Dangerous

You must have come across quite a few jokes that kids share amongst themselves and pass on to their peers. One of them is reproduced here:

YOU ARE DIAGNOSED AS A "NET ADDICT" IF:

- You get up in the morning and your first ritual is to go online.

- You see something funny and you scream, "LOL, LOL". Instead of laughing, you say "hehehe".

- When you finally signed off early morning today, your screen said you were online for 3 days and 45 minutes.

- You have placed the refrigerator next to your computer; why bother to get up and go all the way to the other corner of the house whenever the binge-urge takes over?

- Tech Support calls YOU for help.

- You purchase a vanity car license plate with your screen name on it.

- You say "SCROLL UP" when somebody begs pardon and asks you to repeat what you just said. And when you are talking to somebody on the phone and want to excuse yourself for a minute, you say "BRB".

- There's an annoying person in your vicinity, and you desperately wish there was an IGNORE button to click on.

- You find divorce papers had been served on you six months ago.

image by nkzs, sxc.hu

The kids have a good titter; we scan the joke rapidly and move on, half-amused, to the more important mails in the mailbox. Unfortunately, the "NET ADDICT" story does not end here. If psychiatrists are to be believed, Net Addiction is now a prime candidate for official inclusion as a "Compulsive-Impulsive Spectrum Disorder" in the DSM-V manual of mental illnesses.

image by martynrice, sxc.hu

Let's focus our attention on these same tittering kids who play for pastime those internet games that go by the exotic name of MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). As with every other indulgence indulged in by mankind, this MMORPG pastime also has led to the coinage of a new term for a variant of an ancient medical condition: MMORPG-induced seizures. A paper published in the 2006 issue of CyberPsychology & Behavior discusses an investigation carried out on ten patients who experienced epileptic seizures while playing some MMORPG. Who were the patients? Young, male adults - college students. As if life in the big, bad real world wasn't enough for us parents, we have without pausing to think let our children loose in the by-lanes and "bad" neighborhoods of the virtual world. A virtual world whose characters and plots and behaviors are remotely-controlled. Heaven knows what experiences the innocent minds must be getting exposed to, as they cover their ears with the headphone and watch the graphic scenes unfolding before their eyes in the privacy of their room. To be fair, these virtual worlds can also shape these minds and give them the best possible education that can turn them into well-rounded human beings. But, uh, isn't it time you spent some more time understanding the neighborhoods your child is frequenting in those virtual worlds?

image by ilco, sxc.hu

Another study conducted on a bunch of students from four high schools in China has found a significant correlation between internet addiction and impulsivity: these kids had problems with maintaining attention and focus for basic minimum expected duration, they would give in too soon and would surrender too easily and faced difficulty persevering in their tasks, their self-control had gone for a toss, and they were very, very impulsive.

image by ilco, sxc.hu

Without trying to be alarmist, it must be said that the papers being published on this subject appear to point to Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) being - if not an autonomous psychopathological condition standing on its own two feet - a comorbid condition that is found concurrently with such conditions as ADHD, major depressive disorder, and social phobia. What this mumbo-jumbo means is that people with IAD are also invariably found to suffer from all these other conditions. And that it is still early days to figure out as to what is the cause and what is the effect: whether people with these other conditions go on to develop IAD as well, or whether people first develop IAD, and then progress, with time, to the state of one or the other of these conditions. People addicted to the internet have been known to be generally withdrawn and / or reclusive when it comes to social interactions, and their shyness transforms to uninhibited abandon in the virtual world where one's identity is masked by those cute avatars and screen handles. They can, and do, reveal tidbits of their personal life which they will not talk about to their most intimate partner. And this, sadly, makes them vulnerable to exploitation of the kind that we see and hear about in the "bad news" section of the press and the TV.

image by ilco, sxc.hu

So, how well do you know yourself? How addicted are you to the internet? If you would like to know, you can go - where else, but? - to a website on the internet, here: Center for Internet Addiction Recovery.

image by srbichara, sxc.hu

[While the internet encourages one to let go of all inhibitions, it also fosters great many friendships, associations, businesses, as well as intimate relationships. What the quality of your online relationships will be, is largely determined by your mental makeup and personality. And what are your mental makeup and personality? What should you do in order to ensure that your online relationships are mutually enriching and do not degenerate into parasitism? Read about it in this beautiful article that uses the theme of the movie - "You've Got Mail" to make its point: "Don't Cry, Shopgirl".]

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