China states they have 24 million youth now “addicted” to internet and smart phone usage. This has fueled the growth of over 300 military style clinics with controversial techniques, such as six months incarceration, vegetable peeling, and push-ups to “cure” patients of their addiction. One clinic declares their patients cured if upon release, they then spend less than six hours per day on line. Apparently this is the benchmark for internet overuse and addiction. Six hours? That’s hardly a workday!
So just how much time do we spend on line and does it mean we are all ”addicted” and should send ourselves off to a bootcamp for therapy? Are our smartphones a gateway technology?
A 2014 report from the social media agency “WeAreSocial” reveals that Canadians spend on average 4.9 hours online using their computers, in addition to another 1.9 hours using their mobile devices. But in this frightening report, we North Americans spend a whopping 11 hours a day on some kind of electronic device (thankfully this does at least include our time spent at work.)
Are our physical phones and the Internet really addictive pieces of evil? Or is it a desire to spend more time in the surreal world of the internet than in the messy world of real life, which is so compelling? Perhaps games, apps and virtual realities pull us away from our true lives and create an easier version of ourselves that we’d like to be.
So when exactly does it cross the line from pleasure into addiction? According to netaddiction.com Internet addiction is indeed real – and they offer the following description of the compulsive disorder: “Internet addiction is defined as any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment. Internet addiction has been called Internet dependency and Internet compulsivity. By any name, it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict’s life. Internet addicts make the Internet a priority more important than family, friends, and work. The Internet becomes the organizing principle of addicts’ lives. Learn more from Kimberly Young’s TED Talk “What you need to know about Internet Addiction.”
They further state that excessive gaming, smart phone or Internet use will have an adverse effect on one’s immune system, on their sleep patterns, on their ability to concentrate, and on their social and family relations. Dr. Kimberly Young, a psychologist and world-renowned Internet addiction expert has created this online test to assess your possible internet addiction.
Perhaps we can all self balance our potential Internet addiction with twenty five push-ups for every 4.9 hours spent online.