Internet Addiction

…what can happen when flesh and blood human beings become subordinated to, and indeed absorbed into, the realm of virtual commodities.

– John Sanbonmatsu (note #6, 435)

News stories in Korea of a young couple neglecting their baby in favour of 12-hour cyber cafe sessions playing Prius Online & Second Life that resulted in her death; also in Korea a young man keeling over dead of a heart attack after a marathon 50-hr session playing Starcraft have led to much discussion regarding internet addiction; in China a young man dies after 15-days of gamming; in Taiwan a teenager dies after 40-hrs of playing Diablo III; a young man in Thailand was found dead at his home in front of his computer video game; a young man in the UK dies after a long gamming session on his X-Box; in the USA even a fit and healthy young man died while ‘jogging’ with his Nintendo Wii game (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome) and so on…

But it is not just gaming online that is the problem, people stay connected to look at/produce pornography, access news/information, engage in cyber sex or gamble as well. The mental-health community is apparently divided over whether an Internet addiction disorder (IAD) actually exists (despite stories like the ones above featuring in the news for the past three decades)  but researchers in UK believe there is a link between depression and internet addiction. The American Psychiatric Association did add “Internet use gaming disorder” in this years revised version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (May) but only as a topic bearing ‘further research”. Some studies have found that 95% of citizens under 29 spend a significant amount of time online and that up to 20% of the population in the USA may have an internet addiction. China, Germany  and Korea have recognised IAD since 2004 however and have done more research that has lead to some innovative treatments such as horse-back riding and boot camps as well as some not so innovative – like electric shock therapy (now discontinued).

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