The Internet no longer remains an activity to be carried out when you need to look up some information or do business or send emails or collaborate on a project whether it involves sending a space probe to find a habitable planet or write a 6-grade essay. It has turned into a complete parallel existence. People spend hours and hours chatting, posting updates on Facebook and Twitter, instant messaging, trolling people on online forums, reading blog posts and articles, watching YouTube and Netflix videos, playing video games and doing all sorts of other naughty things. A new study has revealed, according to this report, that 50% of students in the USA might be addicted to the Internet. Duh, actually.
Recently there was a first case of Internet addiction -related medical treatment in Britain. A teenager was admitted into hospital because he just couldn’t stop himself from browsing the Internet. Another teenager in Russia couldn’t stop playing a video game for 22 straight days and died of exhaustion and trauma.
Tendency to spend innumerable hours on the Internet every day has turned into a global epidemic. It’s no longer in use since. According to this link, it is turning into a behavioral addiction. Some people take it seriously, and some don’t. People have already been writing books on the problem of the excessive use of the Internet. Have you read The Shallows? If you haven’t, you should.
The Internet-addiction-related real-world problems may include depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), alcoholism, self-injury, trouble in sleeping patterns including sleep apnoea, nightmares, insomnia and feeling sleepy throughout the day.
Just like any blessing, I think the Internet is a blessing. It allows us to keep in touch with our loved ones and friends, it allows us to do business (I have been running a business on the Internet since 2001) and it empowers people with information that they never had before. But just like anything else, excessive Internet usage can be bad. Once someone asked Chanakya what’s poison? Anything more than what you want is poison for you, he replied. Even healthy food can turn into poison if your intake exceeds what you need.
The same goes for the Internet. The problem is not with the technology, the problem is we don’t know where to draw a line.
The Internet isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it will become an integral part of our lives with greater intensity. It’s up to us how we adapt and learn to draw a line. The biggest problem is with the kids. It’s very easy to get the kids hooked on to the Internet because after all, it seems safer than them playing outside. We are doing more harm than good.