Are you addicted to the internet? -

edited September 2016 in Site discussion

imageAre you addicted to the internet? -

Internet addiction is real and as many as 50% of people in a survey said that it interferes with their life.

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  • I have the privilege of running what is likely the first inpatient program in the US designed to treat problematic digital media use in teens (Outback Therapeutic Expeditions: Unplugged program). Technology in moderation can provide entertainment and connectivity. When taken to excess, it can debilitate us and cause us to miss out on important life opportunities. When comparing fMRI brain scans of heroin addicts with the brain scans of compulsive video gamers they look virtually identical. Their pleasure centers light up in exactly the same way and both contain an enlarged ventral striatum. They can also meet much of the exact same criteria we use to diagnose a substance abuse addiction or gambling addiction. Though technology overuse creates less immediate risk factors than drug addiction, some of the long term impacts can be the same.
    My qualitative research indicates that video game, internet and smartphone overuse is often a symptom of deeper struggles such as trauma, depression, anxiety, social skills deficits, etc. Nevertheless, technology overuse is real and has heartbreaking results. For example, I just got this email from a mother recently:
    "My 16 year old son is a severe pathological gamer. It affects his sleep, eating, grades in school, and his behavior (which is mostly lethargic and withdrawn). My son used to be a vibrant boy who once had the dream of being a fireman and living in a castle but now he can’t hardly function. He literally doesn’t want to do anything but play video games."
    It is my hope that people can enjoy technology in moderation and that, if they ever get to the point where their digital media use impacts their relationships and ability to fully function, that they will get the support they need to live a more meaningful life.
  • A while back, I had an op-ed published in US News & World Report magazine – in response to an article written by a female author on the topic of Internet addiction. My op-ed was based on my personal notice that most articles on the topic had female authors – discussing victims who were mostly men. What follows is a summary of my op-ed.

    Years ago – long before the Internet and even before the advent of radio and television, many men found that they enjoyed going fishing by themselves. Wives and girlfriends left at home began referring to themselves as “fishing widows.” Later, with the advent of radio and television, many men found that they enjoyed listening to or watching sporting events by themselves. Wives and girlfriends left alone began referring to themselves as “football widows,” “baseball widows,” or “basketball widows.”

    Then came the Internet. And many men found that they enjoyed surfing the web by themselves. But this time, wives and girlfriends refused to accept their widowhood gracefully. Instead, they began suggesting that their men must be “ill” and in need of a “cure.”

    Therefore, it’s possible that some of these men might not suffer from Internet addiction at all. Instead, they might be suffering from a disease I refer to as “widow’s syndrome” – a disease forcing men to endure guilt trips laid on them by wives or girlfriends for the crime of finding pleasure outside their company.
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