Internet addiction: are you an addict?

Everyone has wasted a few hours cruising around on the Internet, but is there a risk of becoming addicted?

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is characterized by “inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”

Is this happening to you? Is the Internet, the lure of Facebook, online gaming, gambling or social media interfering with your life? Do you log on, then lose track of time?

Jestine Duncan, freshman at SC4 thinks it affects students directly: “College students are especially at risk, all of our tools for research are online.”

She has a point; many classes have online resources. Web Study is used to submit homework and review materials; SC4 has an online portal that has vital information for students. Textbooks, study guides, all online. Teachers are embracing the internet, using it in the classroom as well, showing videos and useful websites.

The Internet is everywhere, is everyone doomed to become twitching, screen gazing addicts?

Not to fear; there is a solution. According to ABC News, hospitals are beginning to open centers for treating Internet addicts. The Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania opened a clinic recently. Patients enter into a 10 day voluntary program, in which they go through a “digital detox.” That means a full 72 hours without a phone, tablet, laptop, any sort of device that connects to the Internet. Granted, it is not covered by insurance, so it’ll cost $14,000 out of pocket.

Certain groups of people are more susceptible to Internet addiction. Young males are more prone, mostly through Internet based games. They use it as a way to connect, to feel accepted and praised for their skills.  People with anxiety, who are depressed, all are at risk of internet addiction. Using the web to get your mind off of things is fine, in moderation. Too much of it runs a risk of dependency.

Betty Myers, Psychology Instructor here at SC4, says: “Science has identified that there are genetic predispositions toward addictive behaviors, which explains why alcoholism often runs in families. Psychologists typically believe that nature or heredity sets the stage for a given behavior, and their environment tips the scale.”

Children are exposed to the Internet at an increasingly young age, given cell phones and tablets earlier and earlier. It would certainly seem that the environment is encouraging this addiction.

Internet addiction might not be a major threat now, but as Wi-Fi becomes more and more accessible, the risk becomes greater.

 

Alex Olson

Staff Writer

 

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