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Are you addicted to the internet?

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Are you addicted to the internet?

Alex Helling's picture
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It would be forgiveable to think that the debate over whether the internet is a good thing is done and dusted. So many people use the internet, and therefore implicitly endorse the idea that it is a good thing that it must be, mustn’t it? Yet as well all know too much of a good thing can be bad for you. The internet appears to be getting to that point.

A poll for Tablets for Schools has shown that almost half, 49%, of 14 and 15 year olds in Britain feel they are addicted to the internet. Even more, 77% of the group a year older take a web enabled phone, laptop, or tablet to bed at night, either to continue browsing after they should be in bed or because they feel they cant miss any messages they may get through the night.

But what does this addiction mean? Some students told the researchers "It's the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing at night. It seems I'm constantly on it," and "When I'm on YouTube one video leads to another and I cannot stop myself from watching loads of videos and sometimes I'm up till about 2 o'clock in the morning just because I've been watching YouTube videos." Clearly worrying.

But also clearly it is not going to be quite the same as addiction to substances like alcohol, tobacco or drugs. Binging on TV series is now quite common; if a series has a cliffhanger at the end of each episode we might just watch episode after episode until we are done. But this is not addiction to that TV series in the same way as it would be if you were addicted to a drug, once the series is finished it is over. Not even the most fanatical person is likely to watch the whole thing again the next night. Similarly with the internet would there be any real withdrawal from not having access for a while?

The poll provides some evidence that this addiction is not permanent; the peak age of reported addiction is 14-15 with the levels falling back there after. Also it takes different forms “with 46% of girls saying they sometimes felt addicted to the internet, as against 36% of boys, but significantly more boys saying they felt a compulsion towards computer games.”

If this addiction is for individual parts of the internet then it becomes difficult to dismiss the internet as being bad. Instead the solution might be to limit access rather than cut off access completely – though this is difficult to do as those attempting to implement filters have found. Or if the problem declines after a child's mid teens does it really require any intervention at all?

Debatabase Debate 'This House believes the internet brings more harm than good' http://idebate.org/debatabase/debates/science-technology/house-believes-internet-brings-more-harm-good

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/09/half-of-students-feel-addicted-to-the-internet

2 years 35 weeks ago
CanadaFace's picture
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My opinion, is that this addiction epidemic shouldn't be of any concern. I know that virtually everyone in the middle-class living condition, uses the internet - and a majority of those use it regularly. So if everyone's addicted, would it be an addiction, or simply a modern way of life?

I personally feel it's no more of "fitting in" than an addiction. Every child I know uses their electronic devices "addictively", and most would be on that than any other activity excluding it. I'm not trying to imply that all kids are severly attached to their devices, I'm stating that I can't do anything if no one else is. It's basically the symbol that's been evidence since the beginning of time. If something revolutionary or trendy is available, everyone's going to use whatever that is. The only issue today, is that nothing more convincing than the limitless internet has been created - in fact, the most praised inventions of the past five years are all works that revolve around making the internet as luxurious as possible. I mean yes, there is the benefit which you would choose to go on the internet than something else (such as exercise), but that's the cause of anything you'd use excessively. If the interweb wasn't the dictator of 90% of all productive and unimportant sources, maybe it wouldn't be such a temptation. I believe if there were alternatives, that seemed pragmatic on more of a child-like scale, this could easily change the considerable addiction.

As an overview, I think everyone (including adults) were "Stockholm Syndrome'd" into using the internet, and it wouldn't be that hard to escape its depths if there were a reasonable opponent.

2 years 35 weeks ago
KateDebate's picture
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CanadaFace wrote:

My opinion, is that this addiction epidemic shouldn't be of any concern. I know that virtually everyone in the middle-class living condition, uses the internet - and a majority of those use it regularly. So if everyone's addicted, would it be an addiction, or simply a modern way of life?

If 95% of people used cocaine it would be a 'modern way of life' in the same way as you are saying here but surely it would also be an addiction. It being one does not mean it cant be the other too. 

But I also agree that even if it is an addiction then this does not necessarily mean it is a cause for concern. While we usually associate addiction with something being harmful there does not seem to be any reason why that has to be the case. If the internet has loads of benefits and few harms and people are using it a lot what is the problem? If the benefits outweigh the costs for both the individual and society then there is no cause for worry.

2 years 34 weeks ago
Bartek Elroy's picture
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2 years 24 weeks ago
Ian Osias's picture
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 I usually go to facebook everyday and update post of my friends.

1 year 37 weeks ago
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