Modern society is full of addictive behaviors, but it also empowers the people who exhibit them, such that we end up listening to every reason but the most obvious one regarding the true source of the problem. We like to blame external factors or at least try to come up with external solutions to problems that are internal to the individual.
Rather than â€œInternet addiction,â€™â€™ Pies prefers to say â€œproblematic use of electronic media,â€™â€™ arguing that no one would make a distinction between Twinkie-induced obesity and nacho-induced obesity. But whatever you call it – and referring to the BlackBerry as a CrackBerry is just one term borrowed from the addiction lexicon – specialists say that when Internet use frays the fabric of daily life for adults or impedes development for children, somethingâ€™s wrong.
The concern with children goes beyond their grades in school, Rich said. Developmental tasks of adolescents, such as learning how to control their impulses, can be delayed or derailed. Research in adults is exploring whether changes in the brainâ€™s reward pathway, akin to what happens in smokers and gamblers, might occur with excessive Internet use. Rich says problems show up predominantly in middle school boys, who may become socially isolated if they retreat to their computers rather than take part in after-school activities. Some do suffer from other problems.
Whether it’s “internet addiction” or “problematic use of electronic media” is irrelevant. What matters is that we’ve moved on from couch potato to computer potato, but the same old problems remain.
There are certain solutions the article points to which make sense – putting the computer in a shared room, forcing their middle school kids to spend more time outside. But these are reactions to a problem that never should have existed in the first place. These solutions – and the parents who implement them – are late to the party. As a result, shouldn’t the parent share some responsibility?
Therein lies one of the main issues raised by “addictions” like this: modern parents only seem to care when it affects a kid’s grades or appearance, easily measurable attributes, instead of paying attention to their kids’ daily routines and teaching them that life is a process. If life is a process and you spend all your free time playing video games, you’re disrupting that process and that can only lead to bad things down the line. Pretty simple, right?
It’s the same with addiction to junk food, television, or porn: one of the main reasons kids get carried away at young ages is because parents don’t really parent, they just let their kids coast as long as they are getting A’s in school situations where it’s very easy to succeed. These so-called addictions are just behavioral defects that arise when there is no immediate penalty for giving up on life and doing whatever the individual pleases at that particular moment. This type of behavior does not come out of thin air for kids, they pick up on the lifestyles of their parents.
The thought process probably goes something like this: “Well, they could be home with me more often but instead I was put in day care and now I’m a latchkey kid – so if they can do that, why should I care about them or what they say? Shouldn’t I also be able to do what I please with my free time, since they’re on the Crackberry when they get home and through dinner?”
It’s when children see their parents working hard at being parents and being involved with their lives that healthy habits are formed, or at least the potential for healthy habits. The closer the family, the better the interaction during formative years, the less likelihood you’ll end up with a kid with these “addictions”.
And even if you do, the situation would be more easily remedied if and when a parent does have to confront those issues.
Technology is not to blame here; we can’t start the discussion by saying “Facebook’s culture demands that everyone is signed on constantly and thus you get effect “x””. Let’s look internally for once, at why these problems arise in the first place, regardless of the cool technology we implement which happens to be abused by the weak among us.