During the 2nd anniversary of ParenTIN.tv last Saturday, Internet Addiction was the one of the topic discussed. Vanessa Baron from Golden Values School and The Nazareth Formation House was the main speaker.
It can not be denied that the Internet has been part of our lives for the past 10 years. While the Internet has made information sharing and social networking easy, it definitely has brought some problems to our society too. Just what is Internet Addiction? Internet Addiction Disorder or IAD is described as a growing addiction. It is a growing threat to our society. A person with IAD is someone who struggles to reconcile online life with real life responsibilities and fantasy. Addiction implies that a person has no control concerning a particular habit while dependency would mean a strong, compelling desire to continue a particular habit. Addiction may easily hide behind words like dependency or “to be hooked on computers”.
Here are some symptoms to watch out for:
– a significant amount of time is used in activities related to Internet use
– important social, recreational activities are given up because of Internet use
– feelings of restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down on Internet use
– Internet is used as a way of escaping problems or relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt or depression
– inability to disconnect from the Internet and user feel a constant urge to reconnect
– crippling effect on communication skills and even fear of being around people in the real world
– instant gratification manifestation like being irritated when things are delayed or denied
– time on-line is disproportionate with their allocation of time for other daily habits
There was a guest speaker who is still under the care of The Nazareth House where she is seeking rehabilitation for her Internet addiction problems. She shared her personal experiences and her early childhood exposure to the Internet. She spent much of her time in games online, looking for people through free online dating sites who she can casually “date” online. She had multiple characters online and the worst part of it is that she can no longer distinguish her fantasy from reality. She even tried to hurt herself many times whenever her loved ones threatened to unplug her connection.
It was horrifying listening to her story but it also made internet addiction more real to me. I knew that as a parent, my kids are watching me and I know that I spend way too much time online using Facebook or Twitter or blogging. I don’t want them to grow up valuing online time more than real life. This has been a wake up call for me – to make sure that I live a balanced life at home. It also reinforced my belief that character and values formation are truly important in my own life, as well as the life of my kids while they are young. These are what can help our children distinguish the right from the wrong when the face temptations as they grow up.