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What is netholism?
Typical of children age is a certain amount of naivety, trustfulness but also incaution, irresponsibility and desire for adventure and friendship. A combination of these traits and a wrong usage of the Internet could be very unfortunate. When we add an asocial child without friends and a possibility to experience success and appreciation, we get an individual who could be easily addicted to the Internet, playing games but also to rash-headed meeting people through social sites. Even a big outsider could enjoy admiration in a virtual society. We don’t believe that meeting through lonely hearts or chatting rooms is wrong, everybody wants to experience solidarity and success but children want it much more. The problem is that pathological addiction to the Internet deepens asocial behaviour. This means that children lack natural social contacts and they are just unable to build them. The addiction intensifies isolation and thus a vicious circle is created. A failure in the real world is compensated by successes and admiration on the Internet. Both can be achieved by wins in games or by a fictional profile, etc. When children spend too much time on the Internet, they don’t have time for their friends, hobbies, learning and other useful activities.
Is addiction possible?
Psychologists has become interested in the Internet Addiction Disease whose starting points are games, chatting and pornography. The most respectable source about Internet Addiction Disease is Psychology of Cyberspace written by John Suler, Ph.D. from Rider University. How can be an Internet addicted person recognized and what are other troubles of addiction? According to the recent researches, psychologists cannot agree on if there is any addiction to the Internet and if it is possible to measure it. The latest Newsweek study, however, proves that 2 – 3% of Internet users are addicted to it. The research is obviously in its infancy and people may fudge their information, so the research may not be exact and only time reveals the actual numbers. In practice, however, we know examples when an individual neglected his/her basic duties due to the Internet addiction, e.g.: A Polish woman was sentenced to a psychiatric treatment and removal of children because she didn’t pay any bills except the Internet one and her only activity was surfing the Internet. In her defence, she said that she had depressions after divorce and the only thing that helped her was chatting with her Internet friends. Also Czech people have their own experience with the Internet addiction. Josef, a student, was addicted to online gaming and this is his story: “When I started my studies at university, I also started playing Counter Strike on Strahov dormitory. I don’t know how it happened but I stopped going to school and my girlfriend, who had been with me for 5 years, broke up with me. I prematurely left Mechanical Engineering Faculty after a year. But it was just a sack from university that has brought me back into normal life.” David, 20 from Prague knows pitfalls of excessive chatting after a break-up: ¬“When my girlfriend broke up with me, I started to chat. I found many people in the same situation on a chat. But I was gradually more on the chat than in reality. Even two girls ditched me because of that.” Is this activity that radically limits and at the same time controls our life, addiction? We think so!
How do I recognize that I'm addicted?
Even though the Internet addiction is only psychical, its consequences are unpleasant. It certainly doesn’t cause financial problems as gambling and also doesn’t cause total personality destruction as in case of alcoholism or drug addiction. The Internet addiction, however, causes that people loose their natural social contacts; it limits leisure time activities or causes neglecting of duties. Typical features of the Internet addiction are uncontrollable desire to use the Internet, lost of control over use of the Internet and feelings of guilt, unsuccessful attempts to limit connection, mental unease when we aren’t online, permanent urge to connect, anxiety. To find out if one is addicted to the Internet isn’t an easy task. The most frequent addiction is to Internet pornography, chatting and playing games. There are several possibilities how to test our addiction. The general psychological theory says that more than two hours daily per a week in a virtual site means that one has a tendency to addiction. Necessary work isn’t included in this time. Psychological tests have been created too. David Šmahel, the author of the first one, describes it in his book “Psychologie a internet: děti dospělými, dospělí dětmi”. The test is made as a questionnaire and if you answer three times positively, you should consider your behaviour on the Internet. If there are, however, seven positive answers, it is more than likely that you are addicted. Here are the questions:
- If you are not connected now, do you think about your future connection and what are you going to do?
- Is the Internet on your value scale among the first three places?
- Do you feel worse when you disconnect from the Internet?
- Do you think that you cannot concentrate when you are not online?
- Do you consider the world very unreal after disconnection?
- Do you spend more and more time on the Internet? (Other than working/other duties)
- Do you need to be online more and more time to achieve what you want?
- Do you have unpleasant psychical or physical feelings after disconnection?
- Have you ever tried to limit Internet connection but you were not successful?
- Do you think that you meet your friends less often due to the Internet?
- Are you still connected to the same degree, even though you had problems due to the Internet usage?
- Have you limited your leisure time activities – sports, culture, relaxation?
- Have you ever had any problems with working, family or school duties due to the Internet?
The second questionnaire is made by John Suler. Two positive answers are all right but if you have more positive answers (5 – 8), you may have a problem with Internet addiction.
- Do you neglect important things in your life due to the Internet?
- Does the Internet disrupt relations with important people in your life?
- Do you defend yourself or are you disturbed when someone criticizes your Internet life?
- Has anyone ever blamed you for your Internet life and has he/she been disturbed?
- Do you feel guilty or nervous when thinking about the Internet?
- Have you ever found out that you hide your Internet life from the others?
- Have you ever tried to stop but it was not possible?
- When you are frank to yourself, do you think there is something else why you do it?
The last questionnaire is made by Kimberly Young from The Centre of Internet Addiction and it serves rather as a reflection.
- How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go on-line again?
- How often do you feel you have to be online more and more time to achieve what you want?
- How often you are not able to control Internet use?
- How often do you feel anxious and disturbed when about to leave the Internet?
- How often do you seek the Internet when having problems as despair, depression?
- How often do you lie to your friends and family about time spent on the Internet?
- Do you risk your job or family due to Internet use?
- Do you immediately go back on the Internet when you have just paid a large sum of money for Internet connection?
- When you are under emotional pressure, do you suppress it and are you able to overcome it offline?
- How often are you connected longer than you wanted?
Even though the Internet Addiction Disease isn’t recognized officially, from the previous text it is obvious that excessive usage of the Internet may cause troubles. As in the case of other psychical addictions that have a tendency to be pathological, it could be solved by very strong will. You can help by talking to family and friends but it isn’t a shame to visit a psychologist. It would be a shame not to solve this problem and be satisfied with the role of a virtual slave.