Internet Addiction: An issue of government policy or a personal responsibility?
BIS 421/CSS 411 - Spring 2010
“Why is it drug addicts and computer aficionados are both called users?” – Clifford Stoll
There is no doubt the presence of the internet is increasing at a rapid pace. A Pew Internet and American Life Project study finds two thirds of all Americans use the internet to frequently participate in internet related activities (Fellows, 2008). Another study shows that 55% of all Americans have high speed internet in their homes and even higher among college or academic arenas. (Saville et al, 2010). Needless to say, the possibility of becoming addicted to the internet is now easier than ever. The average American is presented with internet opportunities everywhere he/she turns; daily activity is analogous to running a digital gamut. Reading the newspaper or a book, watching TV, saying hello to an old friend, purchasing you Mother’s day flowers all can be done on the internet. Is all of this digital connectivity a good thing or are we taking it too far. The following paper will attempt to define internet addiction; present pending disorders correlated to the increased use of the internet; solutions implemented abroad and then propose a U.S. public policy to combat the battle.
Digital/internet addiction is a growing problem, which is inclusive but not exclusive to adolescents; college students and middle aged Americans. Other nations have addressed this problem by implementing government mandated policies such as; age restrictions for internet café’s; black-out periods; videogame restricting software; and other measures. However, the U.S. has yet to properly address this growing but silent disease. The implications of disease are seen with stories of individuals losing their jobs due to not being able to walk away from video games, constantly checking one’s Facebook page, acting out violently when a parent tells a child no more, increased level of stress or creating second lives online when they are becoming derelicts in their “real” lives. The stories are abundant, yet as Americans, we shrug it off.
The “American dream,” difficult to define, yet the implications are astounding. The desire to want a new car, a bigger home, faster this and shinier that, has recently gotten Americans in debt, addicted to consumption, and yes, even dumber. Recent information suggests that the desire to increase ones social status translates into a never ending chase with the Jones’. Were times not simpler in our grandparents or even our parents’ age? Simply, yes, they were simpler; there was less access to consumption, gratification was delayed and technological progress less rapid. To suggest that technological progress and American dissatisfaction complements each other is not far off. Rather, I argue, the dissatisfied, depressed, overweight, addicted American is a direct correlation with the increased presence of the internet.