INTERNET LAW - Internet Addiction, a Worldwide Crisis

Martha L. Arias, IBLS Director.
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In 1998, a CNN online article reported this, “one 31-year-old man was online more than 100 hours a week, ignoring family and friends and stopping only to sleep. A 21-year-old man flunked out of college after he stopped going to class. When he disappeared for a week, campus police found him in the university computer lab, where he'd spent seven days straight online.”

Those events were reported 9 years ago, what is the panorama nowadays? Are you spending more than 60 hours per week online in non-essential matters? Is your son playing internet games 10 hours per day? Does your husband go to sleep at 4:00 am after surfing the web a little bit or does he take his laptop to your family vacation trip? Well, you better watch for these internet addiction symptoms. Internet use may become addictive just like the use of alcohol or drugs and it does not discriminate against race or nationality. Some countries like China, India and United States present a high rate of internet addiction cases, especially among the young male population. Indeed, some internet addiction treatments are being developed by psychologist and research teams at medical schools. Even internet addiction boot-camps have been created in Asia to combat this concerning trend.

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In 1998, a CNN online article reported this, "one 31-year-old man was online more than 100 hours a week, ignoring family and friends and stopping only to sleep. A 21-year-old man flunked out of college after he stopped going to class. When he disappeared for a week, campus police found him in the university computer lab, where he'd spent seven days straight online." 

 Those events were reported 9 years ago, what is the panorama nowadays?  Are you spending more than 60 hours per week online in non-essential matters?  Is your son playing internet games 10 hours per day? Does your husband go to sleep at 4:00 am after surfing the web a little bit or does he take his laptop to your family vacation trip? Well, you better watch for these internet addiction symptoms.  Internet use may become addictive just like the use of alcohol or drugs and it does not discriminate against race or nationality.   Some countries like China, India and United States present a high rate of internet addiction cases, especially among the young male population.  Indeed, some internet addiction treatments are being developed by psychologist and research teams at medical schools.  Even internet addiction boot-camps have been created in Asia to combat this concerning trend.

But, what is Internet addiction?  Jennifer Ferris, an American psychologist defines Internet addiction disorder (IAD) as a "psycho-physiological disorder involving tolerance; withdrawal symptoms; affective disturbances; and interruption of social relationships.  This psychologist says that the most relevant symptoms are tolerance of long online hours, withdrawal from family and friends, and unsuccessful efforts to control Internet use.  Some experts claim there are some ramifications of Internet addiction.  For instance, Internet Dependence Behavior (IDB) is a form of Internet addiction where the use of Internet helps patients compensate frustrations or dissatisfaction in other areas of his life (oops, check your spouse's use of Internet.  It may tell you something).   How is this trend affecting people worldwide?

The Stanford University School of Medicine in Silicon Valley conducted a preliminary research on Internet addiction in 2006 and concluded that 1 out of 8 Americans suffers from this syndrome.  The research also showed that the usual Internet addict is "a single, college-educated, white male in his 30s, who spends approximately 30 hours a week on non-essential computer use."  These are some other facts from this research, 14% of respondents found it hard to abstain from internet use for several days; 5.9% said excessive internet use affected their relationships; 8.2% said the internet was a means of escape from the real world; 3.7% felt preoccupied by the Internet when offline. 

 In China, Internet addication is a serious problem and the Government is already taken action against this disorder.  There are over 2 million Internet teenage addicts in China according to China"s Internet Addiction Treatment Centre (IATC).  The Government of China, concerned with the occurance of high-profile Internet-related deaths of young folks, is funding a private boot camp to combt this desease.  This boot camp was created to provide treatment against this sphycological disorder, in a military-style training.  Amazingly, most of the patients are males between 14 and 19 years old.  This China boot camp reports a 70% recovery rate and over 1,500 young who have received treatment at this facility operating since 2004.   Other measures taken by the China Government are banning the openning of Internet cafes for the year 2007 and mulling restrictions on violent Internet games.   

 India is among the world top five in the use of Internet.  No surprisingly, colleges' officials are concerned with the use of Internet by its young population.  The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai, a leading engineering college, recently adopted a measure trying to cut the students' use of Internet in the school dormitories.  Students residing at the school dormitories may not use Internet between 11:30 pm and 12:30 pm; school authorities say they want to force students to sleep well.  The school authorities also found that the school's social and cultural activities had been greatly reduced due to the use of the Internet by the students. 

 The Internet brought an endless source of information and unlimited field for e-commerce transactions.  Yet, as any ground-breaking invention, the Internet brings addictions, crimes and concerns that force worldwide governments and educational institutions to take action to protect their citizens.    

 

Martha L. Arias, IBLS Director.

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