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US Students Suffering From Internet Addiction

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the crackberry-is-no-joke dept.

Communications 307

goG sends in a piece from IBTimes on the latest study to confirm what is becoming pretty obvious. The article mentions the Internet addiction rehab center we discussed last year. "American college students are hooked on cellphones, social media and the Internet and showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addictions, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their media and social links. ... 'Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,' wrote one of the students, who blogged about their reactions. 'When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life.'"

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307 comments

Irony (3, Insightful)

Avin22 (1438931) | more than 3 years ago | (#31991922)

'Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,' wrote one of the students, who blogged about their reactions. 'When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life.' I just thought it was a bit ironic to blog about one's Internet addiction

Re:Irony (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992058)

Irony is when a situation is the opposite of what you might expect. It's expected that an internet-addicted person might blog about their addiction.

Re:Irony (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992180)

Does this mean that the pope was right? Blasphemy!

Re:Irony (4, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992236)

I still don't understand the pull of fully exposing your private life on the internet for everyone to see. We have encapsulated our lives for countless generations to allow for you to interact with society as a whole without being violated by something in your private sphere.

I would not trade my privacy for security, and especially not give it away to a faceless corp like facebook.

Re:Irony (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992438)

Contrary to what the more hysterical privacy advocates will tell you, it's quite possible to make use of the social functions provided by Facebook without "fully exposing your private life".

Re:Irony (2, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992558)

And I agree it is possible, hence why I stated the pull of fully exposing.

Do you know how many Junior's we see that apply who have very questionable photos on their FaceBook pages that get pulled up by a simple Google search?

Not really relevant for a junior hire, but the second that you become even somewhat executive, these kinds of things come back to haunt you.

Re:Irony (2, Interesting)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992610)

it's quite possible to make use of the social functions provided by Facebook without "fully exposing your private life".

Facebook works very hard every day to close that loophole.

Look at all the retroactive TOS changes. Each one has taken away more and more privacy... it's not hard to see what the end goal is.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992866)

not really, because your exposure is an aggregate of all the times you have exposed something. a little here and a little there adds up to a lot everywhere on the internet especially. that coupled with this relatively recent social expectation to bare oneself to the public eye makes the 'hysterical' privacy advocates not so hysterical after all.

Re:Irony (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992986)

Yes and no. The amount of information that Facebook collects when your computer accesses their website is really quite shocking. They keep it forever too, so that they can start reliably identifying who you are and do 'social' stuff with it.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992658)

Well, the fact that they're talking about their own addiction at least suggests that they'd be attempting to control it, so to do so blithely over the Internet is a little bit ironic. But it's a stretch, I know.

Re:Irony (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992190)

I just thought it was a bit ironic to blog about one's Internet addiction

If only there was a way to inform those college students about this study without using the internet, IM's, texting or other smart phone technologies. Hmmm ... nope, can't think of a thing.

Of course (5, Insightful)

Korey Kaczor (1345661) | more than 3 years ago | (#31991926)

People today are broken and oversocialized, and more importantly, too careful. The anonymity of the internet coupled with its ability to let people "construct" their image of self that others perceive; take that away, and people are afraid of communicating with others.

Of course, not with close friends, but you can look at how people in a bus or a subway will stare at the floor and try their best not to make eye contact.

Re:Of course (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992370)

Of course, not with close friends, but you can look at how people in a bus or a subway will stare at the floor and try their best not to make eye contact.

Did it occur to you that some of us don't enjoy small talk because we're sick of the shallow bite-size noise-ridden internet methods of communication?

People think I'm weird because I don't have a MySpace or Facebook.

Now, here's what real irony looks like... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992718)

Did it occur to you that some of us don't enjoy small talk because we're sick of the shallow bite-size noise-ridden internet methods of communication?

Ironically, given what you wrote, you have a Slashdot account and post here.

Re:Now, here's what real irony looks like... (1, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#31993012)

Yeah, so I like Slashdot.

I'm even going to stick my head up Rob Malda's ass and say that it's the best and most convenient place to get an information fix, where every post counts and at least a few people know what they're talking about. Even this little petty argument is more fun than the "LOL JAJA" bullshit of MyBook and Twitter.

Not everybody gets to live near MIT or Santa Rosa. Why don't you try living in a desolate Christian-dominated shit-town full of paranoid war vets and DHS goons? Try it and come back and tell us how refreshing Slashdot discussions are. Especially if all your friends are all married with kids and work long hours while you are too young to settle down, but too old to have any real fun. Such is the quarter-life crisis.

Yeah, so I troll Slashdot occasionally. So what, does that hurt your feelings?

Re:Of course (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 3 years ago | (#31993014)

I don't have a MySpace or Facebook.

I tried to get a MySpace and a Facebook too. They cost too much though. Hundreds of thousands of servers don't come cheap you know!

Re:Of course (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992944)

You're right, it's only since the advent of Facebook that people tended to not talk to every single random stranger they encounter. What a shocking turn of events.

First post? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31991928)

I'm here all the time!

So how many posts before I'm addicted? (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#31991934)

No, the Internet is not addictive. Nor is texting.

Certain people are obsessive/compulsive.

Re:So how many posts before I'm addicted? (5, Funny)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#31991978)

Says the guy with an UID of 1285.

Exactly. (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992040)

How much will it take to addict me?

How many posts until I have to come back every single day?

When will I start turning down other activities because I have to get back on /.?

Right now, dinner with friends seems a LOT more interesting.

Re:Exactly. (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992394)

Right now, dinner with friends seems a LOT more interesting.

I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter, but I'm afraid it would simply depress me when I find out that there are more people 'out there' than the guy who delivers my pizzas and the other guy who does my lawn.

Re:Exactly. (4, Informative)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992670)

Yet here you are -- here we all are. And interestingly enough you are completely missing the point (or trolling). And perpetuating a stigmatized, misinformed stereotype.

Addiction does not just relate to substance abuse and chemical reactions from illicit drugs. Addiction is a state described by a set of behaviors and reactions (physical and mental) when faced with the loss of the stimulus. It has nothing to do with how much something will take to addict a particular person. That's fallacy logic.

ala wikipedia:

The medical community now makes a careful theoretical distinction between physical dependence (characterized by symptoms of withdrawal) and psychological dependence (or simply addiction). The DSM definition of addiction can be boiled down to compulsive use of a substance (or engagement in an activity) despite ongoing negative consequences—this is also a summary of what used to be called "psychological dependency."

TFA basically states that they are seeing symptoms characteristic of CHEMICAL dependence too -- which is why this is unusual. If they actually were seeing symptoms of OCD, they would say they saw symptoms of OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a completely different disease that only has partial symptom overlap with addiction. You should maybe consider reading up on it sometime as it probably afflicts someone you know (1 in 200 adults).

Re:Exactly. (2, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992914)

Pff.

I'm also addicted to hanging out with my family, friends and other people: if I don't get to for a long time I start to expereince negative emotions like loneliness.

I'm addicted to spending time with my girlfriend, when we're apart for a long time I start to miss her terribly.

For some reason having a psychological need for human company is socially acceptable and not lumped in with addiction.

By comparison I feel no distress if I'm unable to hang out on message boards and forums like slashdot for an extended period of time.
But then I don't feel like this is social interaction, I'm not friends with other slashdoters, it's more like reading an interactive newspaper.

I imagine if a large amount of my social interactions were through online services like myspace etc then my experience when cut off from the net would be far more like being cut off from my friends and girlfriend.

TFA is a load of bullshit hyperbole.

Re:So how many posts before I'm addicted? (2, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992096)

Hey I never noticed that... Though I completely agree with you. The internet is addictive and compulsive. Yet I ask is that bad? Why in my day that was called... drum roll... telephone! How many teenies would sit hour after hour after hour on the telephone? The only reason why it has become more obvious is because the devices are mobile. Back in the "good ol days" telephones had long cables, but cables none the less.

Re:So how many posts before I'm addicted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992984)

Says the guy with an UID of 1285.

Says the guy with the ID 1285 on /. on his computer.

Re:So how many posts before I'm addicted? (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992046)

Isn't that just semantics? Of course it's not a physical dependency, and as such comparisons to drugs are misplaced, but the term 'addiction' is commonly used to include problems with both physical and psychological causes.

Nope. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992292)

Isn't that just semantics?

Nope. If a person is obsessive/compulsive, that person WILL become "addicted" to SOMETHING.

That does not mean that that thing is addictive.

In order to demonstrate that something is addictive, you'd have to be able to get an otherwise non-addicted person to become addicted to it.

Re:So how many posts before I'm addicted? (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992782)

Isn't that just semantics? Of course it's not a physical dependency, and as such comparisons to drugs are misplaced, but the term 'addiction' is commonly used to include problems with both physical and psychological causes.

No. Obsessive / compulsive personalities can become focused on various activities. Would you then start calling washing your hands "addictive"?

Re:So how many posts before I'm addicted? (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992098)

Cocaine is not addictive, its just that certain people become addicted to cocaine because they are prone to addiction?

Nope.

I suspect that wilderness courses will become more and more popular as people learn that constant social interaction leaves them with no time to think, to read books or to enjoy their own company.

I suspect that the massive growth of Internet narcissism through social media is going to produce people who show clear symptoms of psychological distress and incipient mental disturbance.

I signed up to Google Wave and then realised that the last thing I needed was email and texting to become an immersive experience.

Re:So how many posts before I'm addicted? (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992402)

I suspect that wilderness courses will become more and more popular as people learn that constant social interaction leaves them with no time to think, to read books or to enjoy their own company.
I suspect that the massive growth of Internet narcissism through social media is going to produce people who show clear symptoms of psychological distress and incipient mental disturbance.

The whole "people losing touch with nature" was said 150 years ago with industrial urbanization. Generally people adapt and accept the increasing connection technology allows.

Re:So how many posts before I'm addicted? (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992396)

No, the Internet is not addictive. Nor is texting.

Certain people are obsessive/compulsive.

Why can't it be addictive? The internet is about instant gratification which helps keep you on a dopamine high. The problem with a constant dopamine high is that when the source is removed (in this case the internet) your body goes into a with drawl. So suddenly you go into a with drawl of a dopamine source which leaves you craving for it, regardless the fact that nothing in introduced into your system on a physical level. It's one of the aspects that was shown from Pavlov's Dog experiments. [nobelprize.org] Pavlov got his dog to show a physical reaction that they couldn't easily control (like an addiction would). Same concept could happen with the internet and such.

Inability (4, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#31991940)

Inability to function without social links? You take anyone's friends away and they'll get lonely and anxious. For a lot of students, the internet is the only link to old friends and family that they have. Of course they're going to react badly to being isolated.

Re:Inability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992126)

Thats exactly what the article is about!

I don't buy this (4, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | more than 3 years ago | (#31991986)

I thought for a while that I was "addicted" to the internet. I post to blogs a lot, check my twitter like crazy, check the websites I run like crazy etc. etc.

Then I moved to a new house. Rarely if ever do I even power my computer on while I'm at home now. I'd rather be reading or playing with the dog or riding my bicycle.

It turns out I was just bored.

I think kids have set their standards too high. The internet allows the entire world to compete for their attention. Give them something more interesting to obsess over and they will.

In other words, kids are no more "addicted" to the internet than they were at one point addicted to fishing, or basketball, or any other hobbie that kids have ever had.

Re:I don't buy this (1, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992120)

I have found it very interesting in how people would play fishing, basketball, and other sports on video game consoles, but not yet think "hey maybe I should do this in real life..."

Re:I don't buy this (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992144)

I have found it very interesting in how people would play fishing, basketball, and other sports on video game consoles, but not yet think "hey maybe I should do this in real life..."

It's about availability and time-investment. My time-investment to play some flash-based fishing game (or dolphin olympics, goddamn you dolphin olympics) is about 5 minutes. My time-investment in fishing or basketball is several hours, plus the frightening reality that I might not be very good at it.

You can impulse-participate in a video game, doing the same thing in real-life requires more commitment.

Re:I don't buy this (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992216)

It also costs more money to do these things in real life. I went fishing for salmon a few weeks ago: $70 for a boat ticket, $20 for rod rental, and $14 for a one-day fishing license. I didn't even catch any salmon that day!

Re:I don't buy this (1)

DWRECK18 (1796294) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992248)

Though consoles have taken over the lives of teens and kids in general, this also is an issue with society and parents. Kids aren't told to go play outside anymore because parents are so filled with fear about their kids getting kidnapped or shot or something of the violent nature that they prefer them to stay inside. By all means i'm only 23 but i have a 2 year old son, and you better believe he will be outside playing and wont even have a cellphone until he is in H.S and even then being a techy his computer and cellphone use will be closely monitored so that he does stay active with friends. Before i even hit college i was outside everyday until the street lights came on either playing football or running around in general. Kids aren't really allowed to do that anymore because of parents fears. By all means i still played my consoles like crazy but parents no longer make take their kids outside to play sports or anything.

Re:I don't buy this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992464)

You realize that if you let your child out (regardless of age) unsupervised you might find yourself arrested and charged with neglect, right?

Many parents don't let their kids be kids out of fear of criminal charges because they don't share the "mass hysteria" that's out there.

Re:I don't buy this (1)

DWRECK18 (1796294) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992520)

It is only neglect if there is a curfew and/or if you don't know where they are at, I was allowed all around my neighborhood as well as I played baseball, football, hockey, and played release in the neighborhood. So kids today like skateparks and others still play sports but because parents dont want to keep an eye on their kids or they want to be lazy instead of letting their kids enjoy being kids they just give them whatever electronic device they want to shut them up because its the "cool" thing to do.

Re:I don't buy this (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992898)

Going out in the neighborhood is still an available option in many places.

Even if you live in a suburb, you've most likely chosen to live close to a school for your children, and that usually means there are other children of the same age in your neighborhood.

The trouble with suburbs, though, is that we don't really get to know our neighbors, so we can't really depend on them to help keep an eye on the kids like our parents and neighbors did.

Or maybe I'm just remembering my own childhood in a more positive light than it actually was.

Re:I don't buy this (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992416)

I have found it very interesting in how people would play fishing, basketball, and other sports on video game consoles, but not yet think "hey maybe I should do this in real life..."

Yeah, it amazes me people are that way about gang wars, Bug hunting, and abusing prostitutes. They just don't know what their missing!!!!

Greenspace: suburban America (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992434)

Drive through any suburban sprawl and you'll notice something missing: green space for kids to play; whether it's basketball, baseball, or just running around. Every piece of land has a home on it and someone's lawn, a strip mall, McDonald's and other fast food shit, and other crap - no green space - not even a place to sit and watch the birds. Sure, there may be onedrivable distance: not in walking distance for most of the kids. And even if you get there, most of the time it's crowded.

Kids don't have a choice. The sports video games are a symptom of our sprawl in this country.

Re:Greenspace: suburban America (1)

DWRECK18 (1796294) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992560)

They can play tag, release, street football, so what you may get hurt but you know what thats part of being a kid. I had stitches and broken bones, but then I also played organized sports. The lack of greenspace is no excuse for not getting out and enjoying your life. Be active and actually do something. This excuse could be said for why America is so obese as well. Come on now schools can't even have dodgeball because it makes the obese kids feel inadequate. Give me a break get some exercise and dont live off fast food.

Re:Greenspace: suburban America (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992936)

Drive through any suburban sprawl and you'll notice something missing: green space for kids to play; whether it's basketball, baseball, or just running around.

I live in a suburban sprawl, in Southern California. Totally different from previous places I lived in (real cities). I see plently of places kids can (and do) play in, including the lawn outside where my apartment is, basketball and tennis courts across the road, the beach and the many parks in the surrounding area (although you'd need to go there in a car).

Kids don't have a choice.

Parents do though.

More productive ... (0, Troll)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992176)

... use of their time.

If you're "addicted" to PLAYING basketball (as opposed to just watching it) then you're probably in pretty good shape.

If you're "addicted" to fishing, at least it's a useful skill. As long as you like fish a lot.

If you're addicted to "the Internet" ... what do you have to show for it?

Re:More productive ... (2, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992240)

If you're addicted to "the Internet" ... what do you have to show for it?

Well, personally, I got really into sites like fark (and eventually reddit), but hated a lot of the stuff on them, so I set out to design my own [newslily.com] (Although this was the first thing I ever did. A lot of it is very badly designed).

I've since learned CSS, python, javascript (beacuse I wanted to use ajax), mysql, and apache. To further the basketball analogy, I started watching my favorite team on television *all the time* and decided that I wanted to learn to play as well. My first few tries out (like the example linked about) I stumbled a bit, but have since more-or-less figured it out.

Point is, internet isn't all bad, so long as you decide to use it as a tool to educate yourself.

Re:More productive ... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992264)

If you're addicted to "the Internet" ... what do you have to show for it?

Depends what you do on the internet. You could be improving your writing skills or other communication skills, hand/eye coordination, multi-tasking skills, etc. Or you could be building the largest tentacle pr0n library in existence.

Re:More productive ... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992544)

If you're addicted to "the Internet" ... what do you have to show for it?

A very muscled right arm and calloused right hand?

Re:More productive ... (5, Insightful)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992862)

If you're addicted to "the Internet" ... what do you have to show for it?

Knowledge. Thanks to the internet, I can program in a multitude of languages. I can play five different instruments. I can understand three languages. I've had the opportunity to read many classic novels I wouldn't have otherwise. Same with movies. I can make a lot more meals I wouldn't have otherwise been able too. I can fascinate/bore friends with useless trivia.
And I can masturbate like a racehorse on speed.

Re:I don't buy this (4, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992294)

It's a habit. No more and no less. There's obviously nothing chemical causing the "addiction", and this study is useless to profile whether someone follows the normal trend for psychological dependence.

Dropping anything normal for 24 hours is weird. I had a friend in high school (one of them cross-country folks) who would run a few miles each morning before school. One day he didn't, and there was a marked difference in his personality until he ran home (a distance of 5 miles) afterwards. He seemed mentally slower to respond than normal, yet craved physical activity. Was he "addicted" to running?

I think it's more likely that when habits are interrupted, it's just discomforting. Replace the Internet connection with something else (like a trip to an amusement park, sans cell phone), and you'll find that these "signs" disappear.

I'm sure it's possible to become addicted to everything, including the services the Internet provides. The human mind is a crazy thing. I sincerely doubt it happens anywhere near often enough to be concerned about. These rehab centers are just exploiting fears.

Re:I don't buy this (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992410)

I apologize for the self-reply (no editing on slashdot, thank taco), but I should clarify.

My move to a new house ended my internet "addiction" because I moved from a suburban housing complex (a "master planned community") to an urban center with things that are within walking/biking distance (Tempe, AZ).

To be honest, my former town is exactly the type of situation that fosters the types of behaviours most of its residents claimed to hate. There was nothing in the town to do (other than grocery shop); it hadn't been allowed to develop organically. Because of this, people stayed in their homes and never interacted with one another. There wasn't a community there at all...just a grouping of houses.

I'm very glad to be gone from it.

Boredom (2, Informative)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992500)

Boredom is probably another reason why kids are getting fat: when they're bored or blue, they get the munchies.

Where's School House Rock these days!

Re:I don't buy this (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992594)

In other words, kids are no more "addicted" to the internet than they were at one point addicted to fishing, or basketball, or any other hobbie that kids have ever had.

That may be so, but the internet is an always-available activity. With basketball and fishing, you generally have to quit when the sun goes down.

The closest analog here is/was the TV, and it was the great boogeyman from the 1970s to 1990s, being blamed by people for wasting their kid's time. All this comes down to is schoolwork/productivity vs said activity.

So what you say is perfectly true, this is just a case of competing interests. It's not hard to see that a kid's interest will overwhelm boring homework or any other work in the undisciplined. It's a legitimate problem - but disguising it as addiction may make people tackle it the wrong way (i.e. pills, or telling kid to quit it cold turkey) and ignore that the work is so boring (not that this can always be fixed).

Breaking News! (4, Insightful)

w4f7z (837544) | more than 3 years ago | (#31991996)

People become sad, annoyed, when not allowed to communicate with their friends. The only thing that has changed here is the mechanism of the communication.

Re:Breaking News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992768)

when not allowed to communicate with their friends The mechanism AND the amount of communication has changed. People want to be in touch all the time! The world is getting crueler everyday and instead of people trying to fix the problem they try to forget that there is a problem by being with others who also think the same.

Yes, good study, wrong conclusion. (2, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992798)

The conclusion isn't that people are addicted to the internet.

The conclusion is that technologically-aided communication has replaced more traditional forms of communication for many young people, and if you remove their preferred method of communication, they are not able to fall back on other methods of communication, at least not in the short term.

Other things that might make me sad and annoyed:

- Having to watch TV without a DVR
- Having to walk to places I would normally drive to
- Having to answer the phone before knowing whether it's my mother calling or not.

This doesn't make me addicted to DVRs, cars, or caller ID.

Once upon a time... (2, Insightful)

stavrica (701765) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992048)

Merchants, immersed in the bustling commerce of Rome, who suddenly found themselves shipwrecked along with a handful of other sailors on some island in the Mediterranean would likely have, "showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their " ...familiar environment around which their lives had come to revolve.

It's only an addiction if... (4, Insightful)

vivin (671928) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992072)

I would say that it's only an addiction if it's actively interfering with your normal life. That is, your job, your education, your family, and your interpersonal relationships.

I don't use IM'ing and texting as much as I used to (in college) but I still use it. I don't think you can really call these addictions. These are just different forms of communication. I just think they might be overreacting a bit. For example, the comment from one of the students about being secluded... one would feel the same way if they were told not to talk to anyone.

Now if they were whining that they couldn't chat when they were hanging out with their friends... that might be a problem. I think chatting and texting augments social interaction. The problem is when it turns into a substitute. So I'm not saying that internet/text/chatting addiction doesn't exist -- we just have to be careful about defining what internet addiction really is.

Re:It's only an addiction if... (1, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992390)

I would say that it's only an addiction if it's actively interfering with your normal life. That is, your job, your education, your family, and your interpersonal relationships.

Doesn't really work as a definition for "addicted". To provide a counter example, there are "high-functioning" alcoholics - just as fucked up as regular alkies, but able to hold it together enough to keep a job, maintain relationships (albeit often dysfunctional ones), etc. Often the shit hits the fan for them eventually, though this isn't guaranteed.

A better defining question for addiction is: can you quit? The oft-modified joke "I can quit anytime I want, honest" has a grounding in reality. An addict would be very hard pressed to quit. Quitting would hurt too much. When they do ditch the thing to which they are addicted, they usually have to cut it out of their life altogether, and can't (safely) go back. As an added drawback, half the time "quitting" involves trading a crippling addiction for a less serious one.

The difference between a user and an addict is, when you take their whatever away, the user is okay, and the addict is not.

Re:It's only an addiction if... (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992608)

Doesn't really work as a definition for "addicted". To provide a counter example, there are "high-functioning" alcoholics - just as fucked up as regular alkies, but able to hold it together enough to keep a job, maintain relationships (albeit often dysfunctional ones), etc. Often the shit hits the fan for them eventually, though this isn't guaranteed.

It doesn't really work because "addicted" in the sense of the article is really only being used pejoratively. If you stretch the definition enough you can show that just about any enjoyable activity is "addictive"; further, there are addictions in the narrow sense which are pretty much harmless; caffeine being one.

The difference between a user and an addict is, when you take their whatever away, the user is okay, and the addict is not.

Not good enough. The user of anything presumably derives a benefit from using it; that's why they use it. Take that away and of course they're not as well off, and will seek substitutes. If that's addiction, the term is too broad to be of any use.

Re:It's only an addiction if... (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992970)

The difference between a user and an addict is, when you take their whatever away, the user is okay, and the addict is not.

Not good enough. The user of anything presumably derives a benefit from using it; that's why they use it. Take that away and of course they're not as well off, and will seek substitutes. If that's addiction, the term is too broad to be of any use.

Actually, the point is more in the sense of substance abuse, rather than the "addictions" listed in TFA. To reiterate, take a hard drinker's booze away for a month, and he's okay (perhaps a bit ornery, but otherwise fine). Take an alkies booze away for a month, and he will suffer a breakdown, complete with DTs. Not a bad way to tell the two apart.

Note the distinction here between inconvenience and withdrawal. The hard drinker will be inconvenienced by the lack of booze, which we're presuming he enjoys, and he'll respond to the lack with annoyance. The addict will undergo withdrawal, which has a concise, physiological definition, and is altogether a disproportionate response to the loss. We're talking hallucinations, motor control problems, mood swings, pain - they aren't missing something they "derive benefit" from, they're literally unable to function.

Along similar lines (and getting slightly more ontopic), your average internet user will be inconvenienced if their net access is revoked. They'll be cut off from significant avenues of communication and entertainment. I've gone weeks offline on several occasions, and been bored out of my skull. This is not addiction.

If there is such a beast as an "internet addict" (and I can think of a few folks who probably are), then their response to the loss of net access will be quite a bit more severe than yours or mine. So, if someone claims that an individual is suffering from net addiction, my question would be what happened when they went cold turkey.

Re:It's only an addiction if... (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992842)

> I would say that it's only an addiction if it's actively interfering with your normal life. That is, your job, your education, your family, and your interpersonal relationships.

Probably because you don't have an agenda geared toward making alarmist figures and saying "we have to do something, think of the children.

Isn't this normal though? (4, Insightful)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992088)

I think people are generally social. If you took away some other thing you were used to (like your bus ride to work, car, tv set, news paper, friends etc) would it be normal to feel alone and secluded?

Re:Isn't this normal though? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992288)

Shutting people up in a room for one day and not allowing them any social contact will leave them feeling pretty alone and secluded. One would think that this would be obvious and that a study would be superfluous. Guess some people are still after them damn vidjya games.

Re:Isn't this normal though? (2, Insightful)

Virak (897071) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992350)

Exactly. This study isn't about "Internet addiction", it's about what happens when you cut people off from the vast majority of their social contact. In a shocking result, it doesn't go over well for most of them.

Re:Isn't this normal though? (2, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992360)

That was my thought on reading this. Try taking a baby boomer's TV, radio, newspaper and telephone away. I bet they'd feel alone and secluded in their lives as well, and feel a sense of anxiety over their loss.

Re:Isn't this normal though? (1)

Imrik (148191) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992828)

The article kind of glosses over it, but they took those away too.

The Borg (1)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992118)

Thanks to technology, we are linked together. We are able to communicate with each others wherever we are. We have access to an incredible amount of knowledge through the Internet and this can now be done through cellphones, blackberries, etc.

Now, imagine a generation continuously linked to this hive-mind. Imagine disconnecting them one by one. Imagine how powerless and lost they would become.

the problem is (1)

jisou (1483699) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992124)

the internet is far to broad to simply state someone is addicted to it. im not stating that is impossible to become an addicted to a certain aspects of the web but to say that your addicted to the net in general tells me the researches lacked a certain understanding of it. the internet itself is a form of communication, so saying your addicted to the internet is like saying your addicted to talking.

Big Surprise (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992224)

Apparently these researchers never interviewed your average /. user.

But on a serious note, this is about self-control. The internet does not promote it. The internet makes it easy to access data instantly, and people get used to this 'instant-gratification' that the online world provides. Then when they hop out of their second-life into their first-life, they find themselves bored, for they can't keep that continual flow of information coupled with interaction going.

It is physiological really. Along the same lines as Television addiction. Our brain is evolved to focus on moving stimuli as a defense mechanism, and that at is core is the basis of why television can seem so addicting. Your mind is drawn to moving images, dynamic content, new information.

Now we can constantly flood these receptors with changing stimuli, and the 'fuzzy feelings' of social interactions intertwined with these basic reactions create and addicting experience. It could be classified as a psychological addiction, but then what. Prescribe drugs? Send to rehab? Treating the symptoms, not the problem.

American's are terrible when it comes to passing down traits like self-control, and if the parents are preaching it, in partial to their understanding of the digital beast, or lack of care, and the kids are consuming consuming consuming, we are going to end of a with a generation of kids with the internet feeding their addiction. And they psycs will just prescribe more pills, the pharmas will make more money, the legislators will try to pass more laws, vendors will produce more parental-control software to remedy the content producers making more content, the ISP making it arrive faster, and the OS and UI designers making it present better. The industry the content and internetworked connections will make more money as the industry that fights the side-effects of this digital age makes more money, while the industry that litigates against all of this will make more money.

This is the beast of capitalism, society, and techno-social evolution at its finest. And it will continue to flourish as long as younger generations are not instilled with base values like self-control, instead of blame displacement and causal avoidance.

/end pointless rant.

Pop culture is addicted to addiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992242)

WTF is "addiction"? That's a rhetorical question - I can easily give you dozens of definitions. That's the problem - there's a definition to suit every situation. If you want to impugn a particular behavior, prejudice the discussion with derogatory labels. I'm not saying that people don't compulsively and repeatedly do truly harmful things, to themselves and others, in pursuit of self-gratification. But the word "addiction" loses power and meaning when it's applied so ubiquitously and senselessly.

Who would've guessed? (2, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992254)

'Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,' wrote one of the students, who blogged about their reactions. 'When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life.'"

An amazing discovery! Most people like to interact socially with other people, are comforted by being able to talk to people they know and trust, and feel alone and secluded when they do not! I can't believe research hasn't figured that out yet, who would've ever guessed?

Social interaction with one's friends is still interaction. Technology may make it easier, but that's always been true. Before we had the Internet, people would use telephones to talk, or to plan face to face meetings (and probably use their cars to get to said meetings). The presence of technology in a social interaction doesn't make it any less of one, nor does that mean it's "addictive"-well, any more than any other form anyway, by and large, we're pretty social creatures.

That's even before you get to the fact that removing just about anything familiar from someone's environment will, to some degree, make them anxious. For some people, even getting a new home can be very stressful-you have to learn new ways around, find the places near you that you'll be going frequently and remember the way there, get used to the new layout for going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and all those other little things we take for granted. This isn't exactly groundbreaking research, and it sure in the hell doesn't demonstrate an "addiction".

Pawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992272)

I haven't heard of anybody pawning off there car, wedding ring, guitar, xbox for an internet connection, facebook message, or blog post. I used to be AIM 24/7 in high school. I'm 24 now and rarely log on.

Re:Pawn (1)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992906)

I know a few people who had to sell off goods to pay for their internet connection when we were pay by the minute.

News just in - People addicted to telephones (5, Insightful)

lordlod (458156) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992296)

People addicted to telephone's are showing increasing signs of not coping well without them. A receptionist said, "My whole day revolves around the telephone, I don't know what I'd do without one."

This addiction isn't just limited to the classic call center stereotype. Formally normal people like businessmen have gone to extraordinary lengths to satisfy their cravings, "I have a phone I carry everywhere with me, I just find it so hard to be out of touch with the office. I even have the car wired so that I can talk while driving between meetings."

A guy who provides alarmist quotes for a living told me, "This telephone craze is destroying the very fabric of society, it's a completely abnormal form of communication. People have no idea of your facial expression is or how your gesticulating with your hands. Eventually we will all evolve to just talking with our hands in our pockets, then how will you know who the Italians are!"

It's vital that we develop treatement plans to assist people in transitioning to a phone free lifestyle, fortunately some profiteering fearmongers have stepped up to the plate. Initial treatement involves lying in a hospital bed with the comfort of the occasional ringing phone in the nurses station, eventually patients progress to walks in a phone free park. The problem is so bad and phones so addicting however that family and friends are smuggling specially designed "mobile" phones into patients, despite clear signs preventing phone use in the area.

That's just have of the story.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992300)

It's Internet Porn addiction.....

it's not about how much you use it.. (1)

strstr (539330) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992316)

What they're pointing out, and what I have noticed personally, is that once you discontinue use after a long period of time, you experience physical and mental symptoms of discomfort/boredom/trouble concentrating/anxiety, etc. So while you're using the Internet and technology, you undergo a physiological change similar to what an addict might experience while using, ie extreme pleasure/release of dompamine/wathever... and your body has a similar withdrawal reaction when it goes without.

As a person in recovery from drug addiction... (1)

ProdigyPuNk (614140) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992430)

I can honestly say that I don't think the internet produces the same kind of compulsion, at least for me. I've been sober for a while now, and really can "feel" when that compulsion is trying to kick in. Obsession sucks. I can gamble a bit without feeling any obsession either, so it's definitely a person to person deal.

The kind of addiction I deal with on a daily basis (when new people come around) is generally the kind that has you stealing from your family, writing bad checks and walking the streets... Do these "internet addicts" really do this kind of stuff to subsidize their habit ? Not that it's necessary to be an addict, but do they really have the hallmarks of addiction ? There's a difference between doing something a bit too much and REALLY being an addict.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992480)

This whole internet thing is just a fad. It'll all blow over soon.

No different than a toddler... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992484)

Take a toddler's "binky" (their security blanket) away from a toddler and they're the same way. They teenagers need their instant communication, their updates, twitters, facebook entries etc etc etc. No different than my 2yr old sleeping with her stuffed animals.

Sure some kids survive fine when you tell them they are too old to have "a binky" but eventually, after a few tantrums, they survive. However, expect quite a bit of crying.

Suffering? (2, Insightful)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992504)

Suffer from internet addiction? No! I *enjoy* it, and you'll take my shiny inter-tubes away from me only when you pry them from my cold, dead, cheeto-dust covered fingers!

Whats new? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992556)

Study shows breaking from routine and habits to be psychologically challenging.
More news at 11.

it isn't that at all (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31992714)

Students are suffering from lack of entry-level jobs. As a result, after dumping as many resumes as they can into blacks holes, they are left to blog about inane nonsense.

I can go cold turkey (3, Funny)

ignavus (213578) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992792)

I can go cold turkey fine.

Just give me a six-pack or two and I can drink my way through any Internet withdrawal.

posting from class (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#31992980)

Posting from one of my grad classes right now and I think this study is a load of crap!

I don't understand (1)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 3 years ago | (#31993058)

When I can, I turn my cell phone off and enjoy the peace and solitude. Maybe it's because I was raised without internet (80s and 90s rural Alabama.)
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