Whether it’s an increasing phenomenon or we’re just more aware of it, addictive social media and internet behavior is becoming more prevalent. To such an extent that internet addiction treatment camps are commonplace in China. According to psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher Sean Luo of Columbia University “3.7 to 13 percent of U.S. and 10 percent of South Korean Internet users express some symptoms of inappropriate Internet use.”(http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-real-a-risk-is-social-media-addiction/)
Last week it was reported that doctors in the USA submitted a man into the US Navy’s substance abuse programme, because he was apparently addicted to Google Glass. He wore the headset for up to 18 hours a day and when it was removed, experienced serious withdrawal symptoms. Even when he was not wearing it, he attempted to tap his right temple, which is where the device is activated. He was diagnosed with internet addiction disorder (IAD).
This isn’t a new phenomenon. In 1996, shortly after internet became part of our lives, internet addiction was already recognised as a possible psychiatric disorder. Even though it’s not officially listed in the latest DSM manual (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), used by psychiatrists, it has been argued that it should be. Psychiatrists also prefer the term Problematic Internet Use (PUI), avoiding the use of the word addiction. PUI refers to excessive computer use interfering with daily life.
The diagnosis of internet addiction isn’t an easy one as it’s not the medium someone becomes addicted to, but rather the available online content. The internet is merely the platform. It has also been observed that IAD could be a symptom of another underlying disorder, instead of a disorder on it’s own. Many other related addictions can fall under the general term IAD, for example a gambling addiction, addiction to cyber relationships, online shopping, etc. (more detail on IAD can be found on www.wikipedia.org)
Would you be able to disconnect, even if only for a day? How about trying survive this weekend without Facebook, Twitter or e-mail to start? Imagine how much more time you might have on your hands …
In 2013 Paul Miller, an American Technology Journalist from Springfield, Missouri and senior editor for The Verge decided to disconnect from the hyper-connected world in an attempt to ‘find himself’ and become more productive. He abandoned the internet and disconnected from all Social Media, returning to a life before the net, apps and smartphones. Watch the video below to see what he learnt from the experience.
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