Do Not Fear, Information Seekers

I enjoyed this vlog about the topic of “internet addiction” – sorry I can’t figure out how to embed from this site. You may have to watch a Hollywood preview too. However, it’s not necessary to watch this to understand my post.

I recently encountered talk in this unit about addiction to the internet. My first response to these derisive statements being bandied about was to reject them as entirely false: but it is now clear to me that although in most cases it is arguably not addiction, there are people who aren’t aware of their abusive behaviour having an impact on family and friends, and because of this it may be possible for a medical professional to diagnose them with having behavioural dependency or yes, addiction. But I am not an authority on the subject and maybe it is not a disorder at all:

[May it be noted that I did not add the inverted commas on “addicted” below. It is quoted verbatim]

Signs of Unhealthy Computer Use

  • A person who is “addicted” to the computer is likely to have several of the experiences and feelings on the list below. How many of them describe you?
  • You have mixed feelings of well-being and guilt while at the computer.
  • You make unsuccessful efforts to quit or limit your computer use.
  • You lose track of time while on the computer.
  • You neglect friends, family and/or responsibilities in order to be online.
  • You find yourself lying to your boss and family about the amount of time spent on the computer and what you do while on it.
  • You feel anxious, depressed, or irritable when your computer time is shortened or interrupted.
  • You use the computer repeatedly as an outlet when sad, upset, or for sexual gratification.
  • You develop problems in school or on the job as a result of the time spent and the type of activities accessed on the computer.
  • When you are not on the computer, you think about it frequently and anticipate when you will use it again.

Source: The University of Texas at Dallas (Reference Link)

Unlike substance addiction the users of new media are difficult to clearly diagnose because of the kinds of uses we have for the Web. Just don’t use it as the cornerstone of an argument because it is such a new and debated issue. This reminds of something on a TV broadcast about ‘textiety’ and ‘repetitive texting syndrome’ and other colourful new text habit disorders being allegedly coined by Melbourne psychologists. Well the ABCs Media Watch team sorted that one out following up to discover that these new findings in the field were not accepted by the research community at all. So may it not be all media hype with this “internet addiction” thing, but parents do have to consider and limit use for their family, just like everything else.

As well, it conjures one of my primary gripes with media and society both: the jumping to conclusions and never treading carefully into meaning, research fields and professional areas you know nothing about. We all do it, sometimes for the sake of comedy, or to protect our hubris. Unless it is meant light-heartedly, in jest or passing, it is lacking due care. I am all for making mistakes as a way of learning at university, but please try not to compound them into conundrums of false conclusions.

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