SOMETHING IS FRIGHTENINGLY WRONG. Teenagers who are addicted to the internet are much more likely to purposefully hurt themselves than non-addicted teens.
What? The way the world now communicates correlates with self-injury, at least for adolescents. Adults who are addicted to the internet have yet to be tested for self-injurious behaviors.
What in the world is going on here? We're not talking about psychological or socially injurious behaviors because kids are spending too much time alone, on the internet. The hurt is physical -- hitting themselves, pulling their own hair out, burning and cutting themselves.
Researchers from Australia and China collaborated on the study which surveyed 1,618 adolescents between 13 and 18 years old from the Guangdong Province in Southeast China, asking about their self-injurious behaviors and giving the teens a test designed to gauge internet addiction.
Reporting in the journal Injury Prevention, Dr. Lawrence T. Lam and colleagues from the University of Notre Dame in Australia, found that although only 10 percent of the students were moderately addicted to the internet, with less than 1 percent severely addicted, those students were more than twice (2.4 times) as likely to have self-injured one to five times in the past 6 months than students with normal internet habits.
It's even worse among the moderately-to-severely internet-addicted students, who were almost five times more likely to have self-injured six or more times in the past 6 months, compared to the non-addicted teenagers.
After accounting for other variables previously associated with self-injury -- including depression, family dissatisfaction, or stressful life events -- researchers say internet addiction is an independent risk factor for self-injury. The link between internet addiction and self-injurious behavior in teenagers remained "strong and significant," they reported.
INTERNET ADDICTION DISORDER
Internet addition has been classified as a mental health problem, Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), since the mid-1990's. It is associated with symptoms similar to other addictions -- feelings of depression, nervousness, moodiness when not online and which only go away when the addict gets back online. It is when people using the web do so in a compulsive and out-of-control manner.
Other symptoms may include: lying about usage time, staying up late and not sleeping, avoiding homework, family and friends.
WHEN WILL WE TAKE ACTION?
I'm afraid this condition will get worse -- in both symptoms, like suicide and other life-threatening injuries, and the number of victims. You can't simply remove the computer, vanquish the internet and the World Wide Web. They're here to stay and to be successful in this world requires one's ability to use both.
I don't have any answers, except that we'd better start attending to this problem now and figure out what can be done. I do know that denial is no answer.
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by Sharon McEachern