Internet: The New Drug of Choice

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Internet! The New Drug of Choice

It is difficult in these modern times to find anyone who doesn’t use the Internet. I am not speaking of North Americans (but mainly N. Americans), but the rest of the world is quickly catching up. China already has more users than Canada and the US put together. According to Internet World Stats (2012), China has 538 million online frequenters and 82.5% of the Korean population use the Internet. Korea’s penetration rate is third with England leading the way at 84% and Germany at 83%. Canada doesn’t have a big enough population to make a dent in the number of people using the Internet, but 81% of Canadians do use it, which was a higher penetration percentage than the US at 78.3%. Currently only 41% of China is using the Internet, once their economy improves and more people get connected, China is likely to take over the Internet. North Americans might need to start learning Chinese to get their daily news. With so many people online I started to wonder; is it safe for us to be using the Internet? Before I delve deeper I wanted to point out that because I am also a frequent Internet user, this question also pertains to me, so I decided that it only made sense to write this report in the first person. When I decided to start researching about if the Internet is safe for us, it seemed to me that the best place to research about the Internet would be online. I typed in web browser “Is the Internet bad for us?” and “Does the Internet make us crazy?” I was shocked at the number of results that popped up. It took some sifting through to find what I needed. It seems that the biggest concern about the Internet is “online addiction”. Some people might think it is the pornography or some of the other content or even the technology itself, but these only factor into the big picture of addiction. After a little research I realized that my true question wasn’t “is the Internet bad for us”, but the real questions are “why is Internet addiction bad?” The Internet is not bad, it has some many advantages over other media and it so very useful in our lives. The Internet and video games help increase choice reaction time, spatial skills, scientific problem solving skills, multitasking abilities and intelligence (Greenfield, Brannon, and Lohr, 1996). The elderly use the Internet to keep their brains stimulated by using it to gain information and keep in contact with family. Actually everyone is doing that, not just the elderly. The Internet is like drinking wine, if not in moderation, it can be harmful for us, but in moderation the Internet can produce a wonderful experience. However, also like wine or any alcohol, the Internet can become an addiction. In fact addiction has become so bad that in China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea (Cafferty, 2012) treatment centers have been established to help people with online addiction. Near may home in the city of Nagoya, the Futoko Shien Center received 327 individual requests for consultation for online game addiction from the beginning of this year.(Doi, 2012) That is only in one city in one country. China seems to be one of the worst places I have found in my research. It has become so bad that boot camps have developed to help young help rid their problem. Wired.com featured a story in 2010 about a boot camp in China, “The Qihang camp promised to cure children of so-called Internet addiction, an ailment that has grown into one of China’s most feared public health hazards.” (Stewart, 2010) And according to Scientific American online, “as much as 14 percent of urban youth there—some 24 million kids—fit the bill as Internet addicts, according to the China Youth Internet Association.” (Mosher, 2011) I myself have noticed that I am slowly using the Internet more since I bought a smartphone last year. I would say I am an addict and I definitely don’t want to counseling, but I am starting to worry. So why do some people think the Internet addiction is a bad thing if it...
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