Amanda MacMillan’s article last month for CNN Health, “Internet addiction linked to ADHD, depression in teens” highlights a troubling study from Taiwan pointing to widespread Internet addiction problems faced by adults as well as youth. This paragraph really got my attention:
Our culture practically mandates time online, he (Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis of the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development, in Seattle) says, with Wi-Fi connections in coffee shops and BlackBerries and iPhones that allow Internet access almost anywhere. “It would be as if we mandated that everyone drink two beers every day or everyone gamble for an hour every day,” says Christakis.
Are you addicted to the Internet? Is hyperlinked reading and writing consuming more of your time than is probably healthy? How about online games? How many people in your family are addicted to Farmville now? This article and cited study provides a definition of Internet addiction:
Definitions vary, but an Internet addiction usually includes symptoms such as spending a lot of time on the Internet (especially more time than intended), an inability to cut back on usage, a preoccupation with online activities, and symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety, boredom, or irritability after a few days of not going online.
A technology fast over the upcoming holidays may be able to serve as a personal litmus test for Internet addiction. Whether or not you think you are addicted to online activities, this is a good conversation to have with your family members, students and others in your sphere of influence. Balance is essential, and online destinations are more alluring and engaging than ever. We all need to likely grapple with these issues of time spent online and balancing those activities with other priorities in our lives.
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