Addiction of and Reliance on The Internet
According to the Pew Research Center (Lenhart, 2015), teens in the United States ages 13–17 now have almost ubiquitous access to a computer or a smart device as of 2014.
It’s now almost impossible nowadays to find someone who doesn’t use the Internet. And even if you prefer not to, you have to be on the Internet because either your friends are or school or work requires it. You can never escape how the Internet has taken over people’s lives.
Although this study was only conducted with a sample of 1060 individuals, what is true is that our lives exist on the Internet whether we like it or not.
Internet addiction is not only prominent in the United States but internationally as well. In China, there are approximately “632 million internet users” (Aldama, 2015), and among them “368 million” (West & Moleres, 2015) are online gamers and 24 million children are stated to be internet addicted.
In Beijing, a psychiatrist and former army colonel named Tao Ran has established a “Internet Addiction Treatment Center” that houses 70 teenagers who have been medically diagnosed as addicted to internet surfing and online video games as young. Some of them are as young as 13. There have been over 6,000 participants of this program since 2006. Tao utilizes strict military techniques, such as waking up daily at 6:30AM for military workouts, and traditional methods including allowing the teens to participate in social activities and reading books about internet disorders. Medications and brain scans are also used to assess the effectiveness of the program.
Participants often stay in the program for many months, and the costs for such program is often astronomical for underprivileged families. There are also many facilities like this one all around China, but the effectiveness of their approach has been questioned. Experts have conveyed that “internet addiction should be considered a social deviation, and not a medically ‘curable’ condition” (The Telegraph, 2015).
A 15-year old boy passed away less than a day after their parents sent him to a similar internet addiction camp in Guangxi Province. He was beat by a teacher before he vomited and died later at a clinic (Sanderson, 2009). A 19-year old girl was also beaten to death by teachers for two hours for “not asking permission to go to the bathroom”. There have also been at least 12 of these physical abuses cases in these re-education programs in the past few years (Kuo, 2014).
So as you can see, internet addiction not only affected the individual but can have significant impact financially and emotionally for families.
There is a great documentary about this program and the issue of internet addiction in China. Here is the trailer for it:
I think we should try avoiding contact with smart devices and computers for a week.
Aldama, Z. (2015, January 17). Inside the Chinese boot camp treating Internet addiction … Retrieved October 20, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/11345412/Inside-the-Chinese-boot-camp-treating-Internet-addiction.html
Kuo, L. (2014, June 23). China’s cure for teenage internet addiction is worse than … Retrieved October 20, 2016, from http://qz.com/224591/chinas-cure-for-teenage-internet-addiction-is-worse-than-the-supposed-disease/
Lenhart, Amanda (2015). Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015. Pew Research Center.
Sanderson, H., & Press, A. (2009, August 10). Chinese teen dies at Internet addiction rehab camp. Retrieved October 21, 2016, from ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=8269601
West, J., & Moleres, F. (2015, March ). Inside the Chinese boot camps designed to break video game addiction. Retrieved October 21, 2016, from Mother Jones, http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/06/chinese-internet-addiction-center-photos