Saturday, June 8, 2013

Is Cyber Addiction a Disease?

Nowadays a lot of people use heavily the Internet. For some it offers unlimited opportunities for access to information and is a place to excel professionally and build a solid career. For another big category of people however, the Net has become basically a replacement of human interactions and has turned into a dangerous and potentially harmful habit. 

A recent statistical study from Germany discloses that almost 2 million Germans are a
cyber addicted - they interact, shop, entertain, and work online and for these people their virtual life is more important that their real life. A study from Stanford University points out that although cyber addicted individuals are typically healthy, the number of people from all age groups who admit to being addicted to the virtual world and experience certain symptoms of addiction constantly increases.

Unfortunately, about  43% of teenagers are heavy Internet users and therefore seriously endangered. Alarming news from China acknowledge over 10 million minors are already seriously troubled by their addiction to the Net. It is no secret that children and teenagers are a lot more susceptible  to all these negative influences as their bodies are still growing and forming and the consequences are a lot more serious.

Although cyber addiction is not yet officially recognized as a disease, medical professionals have to deal with the odd behaviour of the victims of virtual reality, as they are commonly known. The symptoms can hardly be mistaken - negligence towards one's own health and looks; lack of sleep; low physical activity; much less interactions with people; fatique and eye dryness - some of those closely resembling the symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome. Many experience strong irritability and anxiety when away from an Internet-connected device and those can elevate into sense of loneliness, depression. The function of the hands, neck and shoulders can be strongly damaged. To make things worse this type of addiction applies not only to computers, but to cell phones as well.


 “Just one more minute” is a popular response of cyber addicts, strongly resembling other “lasts" - last smoke, last drink, last shot...

As with any medical or psychological condition prevention is as important as healing,  even more so with children. A few simple steps can help:

  • Acknowledge that you or your children spend unreasonably long hours in cyber space.
  • Use technology to exercise control over your children's computer and cell phone use.
  • No matter how much work has to be done or how interesting a game or conversation is, try to take or impose to your kids a 10-minute “break time” away from the screen.
  • Try to restrict the use of computers and cell phones to a reasonable minimum. Be a role model and apply the same rule to yourself.
  • Engage in a hobby which does not require the use of computer  and involve your children in it.
  • Create a daily routine with chores and activities away from a computer.
  • Do not allow eating in front of the monitor.

No comments:

Post a Comment