The internet has become a part of our daily lives. Our work requires us to constantly check our emails, our news comes from twitter, and we stay in touch with our family and friends through social media sites. All of this has helped us become more productive and better workers. There is even significant evidence that surfing the web can increase brain function and help us become better learners. But, like many other things, overindulgence is harmful.
There have been discussions about internet addiction since the late 90’s, but it has been a very controversial topic among medical professionals until recently. A recent study in South Korea and China, have linked the obsessive use of the Internet to chemical changes in the brain. Scans of Internet users’ brains showed an increased amount of “White Matter” in subjects who used the Internet frequently. Similarly, people who are addicted to heroin, cocaine, and alcohol show the same brain patterns. This has given Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) credibility in the medical community and sparked the interest of hospitals and addiction centers to start doing more research.
Unfortunately, treating IAD is very difficult. Unlike many addictions and treatments, you may not be able to cut it cold turkey. It is such an important part of our daily lives that you may be required to use it for work, school, or millions of other reasons. This means addicts must learn self-control instead of abstinence, which all addicts know is nearly impossible to do.
We are just now learning about IAD and its dangers. As the first generation of citizens exposed to the Internet from birth grows older, we will gain more information on this potentially dangerous technology and how we can deal with it.