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Internet Addiction

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Internet Addiction

Research Paper Theme: Social Impact of the Internet 8 October 1997 ABSTRACT The Internet is the largest source of information in the world today. With its web sites and chat rooms, it is a means of communicating with people in places all over the face of the earth. Since its conception in 1973, the Internet has grown at a whirlwind rate. 51 million adults, were on-line as of the second quarter 1997 in the United States alone. Some say that the Internet is so enjoyable that it is almost addictive. The problem is that researchers are beginning to agree with them. Studies are revealing that there may be an actual form of addiction involved with over-use of the Internet. Identifying which category of addiction the Internet falls into is the problem. There are no real answers yet because research in this area is at the beginning stages. While lost in this so called 'Cyber Community' for long periods of time, people are neglecting other important activities like; time with the family, socializing, work and health concerns. One of the most extensive studies on Internet Addiction to date was conducted by Dr. Kimberly S. Young of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. In her study, she revealed concrete evidence supporting the Internet Addiction claim. However, help for web addicts is available. There are several web sites available for the treatment of Internet addiction, as well as counseling centers and clinics. Is it Live, or is it Internet? Internet Addiction The Internet is the largest most versatile source of information in the world today. With its web sites and chat rooms, it is a means of communicating with people in places all over the face of the earth. But with all this power at our fingertips, are there any negative impacts of using this interface? Are we as 'simple humans' capable of interacting with such a powerful communication source. Recent studies are beginning to uncover evidence that would suggest that maybe some of us are not so capable of dealing with this technology. In fact, as more research is conducted, experts are finding that the Internet may even be addictive! Development of the Internet began about 15 years ago. In 1973 the U.S. Defense Research Projects Agency initiated a program to research the techniques and technologies for inter-linking various types of networks.1 The objective was to develop communication protocols that would allow networked computers to communicate transparently across multiple, linked networks. This was called the internetting project and the system of networks that emerged from the research was known as the Internet. Since that time, various other research projects, to include those conducted by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, have shaped and tailored this project to give us the Internet as we know it today. (1) The Internet has now grown to include over 4500 Service Providers in the United States alone. A survey by Christian Huitema of Bellcore indicated that there were 26 million host computers on the Internet as of September 1997.2 A survey conducted by Intelli Quest Information Group Inc. showed that 51 million adults, age 16 or older, were on-line as of the second quarter 1997 in the United States alone.3 With such a large portion of the population swimming in this seemingly never-ending sea of information, what is the real impact of the Internet on society? It seems that the majority of society thinks the Internet is the greatest invention since the telephone. This is probably best justified by the whirlwind rate at which the Internet grows. In fact, some say that the Internet is so enjoyable that it is almost addicting! The problem is that recent studies have shown that the Internet may not only be addicting because it is enjoyable, but that a fairly large number of users are experiencing addiction of a clinical form.4 Identifying which category of addiction the Internet falls into is another problem. There are no real answers yet because research in this area is at the beginning stages. A few researchers are comparing the Internets effects to marijuana as a psychostimulant. They argue that the chemicals in marijuana activate the same stimuli as the Internet.5 Most researchers to this date do, however, agree that this is some type of behavioral addiction. People can become addicted to activities even when there is no physiological dependence or physiological addiction. Overeating, sex, work, exercise and gambling can be addictive if done to excess.6 Behavioral addiction means (2) that the activity alters your emotional state in some way. The main way to determine if an activity is addictive is if it is having a negative impact on some other important area of your life. The questions to be answered now are, if there is such a thing as Internet addiction, what are the effects of this addiction and why are people falling into this trap? According to Dr. Maressa Orzack of the Computer Addiction Services at Harvard University's McClean Hospital in Boston, 'The single greatest factor in becoming an addict is boredom.' 'They're lonely, and the Internet, with its chat rooms and endless information, fills a need.'7 The chat rooms, whether they are used for sexual and romantic encounters or just to talk to other people around the world, seem to be the number one temptation. Others include fantasy games and the ability to create false identities of oneself. Although this ability to create a false identity is not one of the main lures, it does play a major role when looking at the psychological effects of the Internet. Identity is a key factor in everyone's life. Without a sense of identity, or a confused identity, people have difficulty socializing with others. They also have a difficult time dealing with stress and the real world and therefore resort to other measures where there is no direct contact with other people. On the Internet, there is no direct communication. Therefore an insecure person or a person with low self-esteem does not have to worry about what the person on the other end of the link thinks about them. They may modify their identity, work position, marital status, or any (3) other ...

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Keywords: internet addiction disorder, internet addiction test, internet addiction essay, internet addiction definition, internet addiction poster, internet addiction scale, internet addiction quotes, internet addiction treatment

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