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Addiction as a Social Impact of Internet

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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

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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 of a

number of characteristics that affect their role in life. The real problem with this addiction,

however, is its sociological effects. A number of people say that the Internet is like traveling. They

say each trip is like a new journey and you never know where it is going to take you. The problem

is that they spend so much time on the net that they withdraw from regular society. They escape

reality into a culture with no real boundaries or existence. While lost in this so called ‘Cyber

Community’ for long periods of time, they are neglecting other important activities like; time with

the family, socializing, work and health concerns. Internet abuse has been cited as a contributing

factor in the disintegration of marriages and families, and the collapse of promising careers.8 But

is there really a problem or are researchers just looking for something that is not actually there?

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, Dr. Young determined that

Non-dependents were able to control the amount they used the Internet and reported no adverse

effects due to its use. However, dependents reported significant changes to their lives because

they had simply lost control over there ability to limit the amount of time they used the Internet.9

She compared the use of the Internet to criteria traditionally utilized for other established

addictions and found significant identical values.9 She did, however, state that the Internet itself is

not addictive, but that specific areas such as the chat rooms, play a significant role in the (4)

development of the addiction. Research is not, however, the only evidence that a problem exists.

As the Internet continues to expand, the number of horror stories increases. In Cincinnati, a

mother was arrested for neglecting her three young children because she was spending too much

time on the Internet. 7 It was reported that she was spending 12 hours a day on line while her kids

were locked in a room in a filthy apartment. In addition to this case, all one has to do is browse

the Internet addiction sites to find many other people and their individual stories. Now you will

probably ask, If there really is an addiction, what are the symptoms and is help available? The list

of Internet Addiction symptoms is long. Most Researchers in this area stated that any combination

of the symptoms could identify a person as an addict. The symptoms include: — You neglect

important family activities, social events, work responsibilities, academic projects or health

concerns to spend hours on the Internet. — A significant person, such as a boss, close friend or

partner, has complained you’re spending too much time or money on the Internet. — You are

constantly anticipating your next on-line session. — It becomes impossible to cut back on your

Internet time. — Losing track of time once on-line. — You check your email compulsively. (5) —

You develop cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you are away from the computer. — You

skip meals, classes or appointments to get on the Internet. — You would rather talk to people

on-line than face-to-face. — You sleep less than five hours a night so you can spend more time

on-line. — You are having increased difficulty discussing matters not related to the Net. The

dilemma here is that most people will not admit they have a problem (as with most other

addictions). Some researchers state that people may be using the Internet to substitute for other

addictions. When someone finally realizes they have a problem, however, help is available. There

are a number of web sites available for the treatment of Internet addiction. They include sites like

Welcome to the Web Addicts Detox Page or ”The Internet Anonymous Virtual Meeting Page.“

There is even software available for addicts. One such package is Graham’s Mac Shareware.

However, trying to cure on-line addiction by going on-line is probably not the best answer. Face

to face counseling is probably the best method for dealing with this problem. The availability of

this type of counseling is expanding rapidly. Over the past two years, two major clinics have also

been established to treat this addiction. One that was mentioned earlier is at Harvard University’s

McClean Hospital in Boston. The other is the Center for On-Line Addiction at the University of

Pittsburgh at Bradford. The latter is Directed by Dr. Kimberly S. (6) Young whose research was

also mentioned earlier. To this date, her clinic alone has reviewed more than 400 Internet

Addiction cases.8 The Internet has grown rapidly since its beginnings in 1973. It has spread to all

corners of the earth bringing multitudes of information and communication capabilities to people

everywhere. The problem for some people is that it may be too much to control. Addiction to the

Internet affects the victim both psychologically and socially. Research in this area is still in the

beginning phases, but the results warrant further studies. If you feel that you are losing control,

help is available both on and off-line. However, the best advice offered by experts for when you

begin losing touch with reality is to just pull the plug. (7)

Bibliography
WORKS CITED 1.) Cerf, Vint. “A Brief History of the Internet” Internet History. (12 Sep 97) 2.)
Gehl, John & Douglas Suzanne. “Internet Keeps Growing and Growing.” Edupage. 16 Sep 97 3.)
INTELLI QUEST. “Internet Survey.” Internet News. 04 Sep 97 (08 Sep 97) 4.) Smith, J.W.

“Internet Addiction” Internet Addiction.. 15 Nov 96 (11 Sep 97) 5.) Blakley, Ben. “Mouse
Potatoes & the Net, Is the Internet Addictive? The Internet is Addictive!” Internet Addiction. (11
Sep 97) 6.) “Internet Addiction” Internet Addiction. (11 Sep 97) 7.) Gong, E.J. Jr. ABC
News.com. Internet Addiction. (11 Sep 97) 8.) Tate, Gary “Welcome to my Internet Addiction
Page.” Internet Addiction. 4 Sep 97 (11 Sep 97) 9.) Young, Kimberly S. “Internet Addiction: The
Emergence of a New Clinical Disorder.” Internet Addiction. (11 Sep 97)

Cite this Addiction as a Social Impact of Internet

Addiction as a Social Impact of Internet. (2018, Jul 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/social-impact-of-the-internet/

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