The Internet Addiction Disorder Syndrome
Internet Addiction Disorder is a term first coined by Ivan Goldberg MD in 1995. This is a relatively modern affliction which affects increasingly large numbers of mostly young people, on a global basis. It is a highly addictive disorder that places the sufferer into an imaginary ‘protective bubble’ or comfort zone, where the real world is substituted by the cyber world. This addiction, according to experts, can be as destructive as drug use. It is estimated that one out of every ten people suffer from this affliction.
Young people who are hooked by the disorder, display some important telltale signs such as: feelings of restlessness when not online, withdrawal from other activities deemed pleasurable, poor social skills which involve isolation from family and friends, poor academic progress, sleep deprivation, as well as weight loss-just to cite a few. This obsession with the Internet also extends to all digital technology including an overly compulsive obsession that extends to the smart phone.
Once such technology is not accessible, teens feel that life has lost its luster. Kids today experience lots of social anxiety at school, and many feel a loss of confidence in dealing with day-to-day pressures. Those who are hooked on the Internet spend more than six hours per day as a way of avoiding the stressors of daily life. Everything else in life becomes excluded and unimportant.
The reSTART Program, The Center for Digital Technology Sustainability, is the nation’s first residential therapy center for Internet addiction. It is located in a residential area outside Seattle, Wa. The purpose of the Program is to help youngsters to disconnect from ‘digital distractions’ while undergoing the necessary coaching and one-on-one mentoring that will serve as the basis for a healing change of outlook. The reSTART program urges the residents to live independently, go to class or work, and to use digital technology in what they refer to as a ‘sustainable healthy way’. At the center, the residents are under the compassionate care of a professional interventionist.
Are you prepared to send your Internet-addicted kid to boot camp? These camps are referred to as ‘education centers’. In China today, there are 250 such camps supervised by ex-military staff. They have been set up with the purpose of weaning youth off of their addictive passion for the Internet. They aim to instill habits of discipline in youth run amok. Increasing numbers of Chinese youth spend most of their waking hours in cyberspace, playing games-just to escape the pressures of a highly competitive society of well over 1.3 billion people. It seems that the real world is not really as attractive as the cyber world where one can advance to the next level in a game, giving the individual a false sense of confidence and achievement which they feel are increasingly unattainable in the real world.
In China today, Internet addiction is a recognized disorder. In the USA, the American Psychiatric Association still feels that this problem requires further study.