By Dennis Soinski
In a recent study on Internet addiction undertaken at the Stanford University School of Medicine, researchers concluded that “The United States could be rife with Internet addicts as clinically ill as alcoholics.”
Activities of Those Addicted to the Internet
What do those who are addicted to the Internet do while online? According to the Stanford researchers, Internet-dependent individuals look at pornography, gamble, visit chat rooms and forums, do online shopping, spend time on special-interest websites, check e-mail, and play video games.
Addiction Horror Stories
Just how serious are Internet-related addictions? Although most of the addiction horror stories I have encountered pertain to the more “typical” addictions such as drug abuse and alcoholism, other Internet-related dependencies such as “video game addiction” are starting to share the headlines. For instance, there’s various stories circulating the Internet about young teens who play online video games 18 or more hours per day.
As disconcerting as this is, the most shocking and disturbing Internet-based addiction story I have ever heard concerns a person who had “forum addiction.” More to the point, in 2005, a 54-year-old male, unable to take a break from his online world, died from starvation. How was this possible you ask? Easy. For 7 weeks before his death, he posted comments into one forum after another every 30 seconds, while refusing to eat.
Should Online Addictive Activities Become Illegal?
Let’s look at the facts. Some Internet users are addicted to blogging, some to forums, and still others to video games. The vast majority of people who go online to post comments on forums, read blogs, or play video games, however, do not get “hooked” on these activities. A similar argument, moreover, can be made for various adult activities such as online sex, porn, gambling. To eliminate the possible danger of addiction to these online activities, should they become illegal?
Obviously, parents who are concerned about their children do not want them to become addicted to video games, blogs, forums, or to drugs, alcohol, or porn for that matter. Keep in mine, however, that the easiest solution is not always the the best or the most responsible. For instance, in the case of addiction to Internet-related activities, the easiest “solution” would be if these online activities did not exist. This, however, is NOT the most responsible response to the problem of online addiction.
Since some filth and garbage do exist online (along with a tremendous amount of healthy, educational, and beneficial information), the major source of responsibility regarding what children view and do online has to come from parents. To drive this point home more strongly consider this. If parents stopped saying “No” to their 5-year-old children, for instance, and simply let them do whatever they wanted, most of these young children would not make it to their 6th birthday. The point: children, especially those who are extremely young, need a lot of guidance by their parents if they are to grow, learn, and develop.
Simply put, parents need to supervise, manage, and monitor the online activities of their children. To help understand this more fully, let’s look at another activity that American children spend a relatively large amount of time doing, namely watching TV. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics website, children in the US spend approximately 4 hours every day watching TV. While there may be some room for debate about letting children watch TV unsupervised for long periods of time, such is not the case with the Internet. Indeed, with the increasing availability, allure, and seduction of online sex, porn, and gambling, and the multitude of stories about teens and preteens who play online video games many hours per day, however, there is no room for debate about children who spend time online: parents need to be aware of what their children are doing online–period.
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