Sunday, 6 April 2014

Can we be addicted to the internet? - Yes, we can.

A lot of people are talking about internet addiction today and some are wondering where the limit is. When can we start talking about addiction? Some of us are even wondering if it is possible to become addicted to the internet. Is it?

Photo: Malahini Solutions

According to the Italian newspaper la Repubblica  ( ) Italy would be  opening a processing section for IAD in Parma, in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna. IAD stands for Internet Addiction Disorder and in 2009 the first Italian division to cure this desease opened in one of Rome's largest hospitals, Policlinico Gemelli . Since 2009, hundreds of patients have received treatment there. The city of Torino has also followed this example where you now can get support at the hospital Le Molinette .

In the online magazine I read and listened to an interesting interview with Professor Federico Tonioni, who is responsible for the Department of IAD at the Policlinico Gemelli hospital in Rome. He says that since 2009 more than  300 people have been treated for IAD and 80 % of these are young people. All of them had social problems and also issues to follow their studies.

Some people spend up to eighteen hours online on social network and online games. Some kids are just 10-12 years . Professor Tonioni says you can talk about Internet addiction when the person also has social problems and shuts himself to the world. In many cases, the computer screen is a defense against the outside world , as many consider it to be easier to have relationships with other people in social networks than in real life.

It is important to understand how people live to understand if we can speak of addiction. If a person works but spends all his free time on the internet then there is a problem , but it does not mean you are addicted.
In the interview with Professor Tonioni speaks about a boy who was on treatment at the hospital. He had begun a relationship with a girl through Facebook. After several months of treatment, he found the courage to ask her out to meet each other for real. The first time he went out to meet her without the protection from the data screen he got drunk before to find the courage. This was the beginning of their relationship but eventually he managed to meet her and to establish a relationship.

Professor Tonioni has written a book called " Quando Internet diventa una droga " ( When the Internet becomes a drug )  where he advises the parents to avoid to rudely take the computer from the kids. As in other forms of addiction anxiety can lead to aggressive reactions. The best way to face this problem is to sit with the kid by the data screen and take part of the young person's feelings. Professor Tonioni concludes the interview by saying that we parents should try to change themselves before asking the children to change. 

Some years ago we often heard that parents should watch TV with their children, now you should also be with them as they surf the internet and play games. It is a way to participate in their children's lives. It is also very important to be aware of any changes in the kid's social life and relationships.

How do you know if you are addicted or not? Well here are some things to think about:

Do you get anxious if you are in a place without the internet?
Do you have fantasies or dreams about the internet?
Do you withdraw from social life because you prefer the computer?

Personally, I love the internet for what it gives me when it comes to communication wordwide, but I have never played a computer game, I wouldn't have time. According to Tonioni, there are people spending up to 18 hours a day playing computer games on the internet and this is frightening...

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