Technology like the Internet is now being studied by health experts around the world. The i-GENERATION is becoming a key focus area surrounding mental health. In a Globe & Mail article, it published findings of a study done by the University of Norte Dame Australia suggesting:
The students ranked as moderately addicted to the Internet were 2.4 times more likely to have self-injured one to five times in the past 6 months than students without an addiction, said Dr. Lawrence Lam from the University of Notre Dame Australia.
There are plenty of things to be addicted to: gambling, drugs, alcohol, even your job. Many of these addictions however occur at an age over 18. The variety of different social activities that teenagers have available has not changed such a sports activities, music, and other group activities and they are still very popular. Teenagers that did not participate in these activities had few options prior to the Internet to participate in interactive environments on their own terms.
Another key element significantly different prior to the explosion of the Internet has been the parent-child relationship and communication of problems that occur. Parents often do not have an understanding of where their children are surfing the Internet. That's beginning to change yet clearly this study suggests more needs to be done. The question of how will be the next debate. Products that filter or control what parents let their children see on the Internet aren't the only solution -- and likely increase the potential for addiction.
In a search of the U.S. FDA website, I could find no recommended therapy solutions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services see Internet addiction as a increasing problem. Many argue that this problem is not new, only the medium. It could be suggested that we have simply replaced or augmented Television addiction with the power of the Internet.
There's a counter argument that suggests that the Internet is addictive to all age categories. Our own Zack Whittaker responded to a question I posed to him about I-GENERATION addiction with;
The Internet already is as addictive; however we only really notice the dependence once our contact with the web is cut. Most would go to Google Maps before we went to an atlas; in fact many wouldn't know how to access content offline in the now not-so usual fashion. Our dependence in always being connected needs to be laxed once in a while to gain perspective on the wider world to ensure we have an offline backup plan when access to the web inevitably fails from time to time.
Perhaps we all need therapy...