Is the Internet Driving us Crazy?

Aug 02, 2012

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Research is starting to show that Internet use can have a negative impact on our well being.

For example:

  • Jason Russell, the man who started the viral "Kony 2012" video, was diagnosed with a form of temporary insanity when non-stop worldwide acclaim and criticisms became too much to handle.
  • More than two-thirds of everyday people report experiencing "phantom-vibration syndrome," or feeling their phone vibrate when in fact nothing is happening.
  • One couple's infant died of neglect because the parents were too busy nourishing a virtual baby online.
  • A young man fatally attacked his mother for advising him to log off.
  • At least a dozen Web users have died of blood clots from sitting too long.
  • Almost everyone in a study of iPhone habits admitted feeling compelled to use their phones.

College students are saying, "I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening…media is my drug." There is a clear problem at hand.

"The Internet 'leads to behavior that people are conscious is not in their best interest and does leave them anxious and does make them act compulsively,' says Nicholas Carr, whose book The Shallows, about the Web's effect on cognition, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

[The Internet] 'fosters our obsessions, dependence, and stress reactions,' adds Larry Rosen, a California psychologist who has researched the Net's effect for decades. It 'encourages—and even promotes—insanity.'"

Dissociative identity disorder, cycles of mania and depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), ADHD, treating real life as "just another window" on a computer screen, exhaustion, addictive behavior, and psychosis are all potential outcomes of too much Internet use.

Brain scans reveal that Web use, even as little as five hours, can fundamentally alter part of the brain. "The brains of Internet addicts, it turns out, look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts," says Dokoupil.

The message, though debated, is clear. Too much time spent online can have negative, physical consequences. Parents should be cautious for themselves as well as their children.

Can you or your tech-savvy kids relate to any of the behaviors mentioned in the Newsweek article? For parents who wish to safeguard their children from the potential dangers of excessive Web use, time management controls can be a valuable tool.

Decide where the Internet fits into your life: make conscious decisions, set boundaries, and utilize the benefits of technology without letting it take over.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.