People become "addicted or dependent on the Internet through excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. "Kimberly S. Young links internet addiction disorder with existing mental health issues, most commonly depression. Young states that the disorder has significant effects socially, psychologically and occupationally.
"Aric Sigman’s presentation to members of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health outlined the parallels between screen dependency and alcohol and drug addiction: the instant stimulation provided by all those flickering graphics leads to the release of "dopamine, a chemical that’s central to the brain’s reward system".
A 2009 study suggested that brain structural changes were present in those classified by the researchers as Internet addicted, similar to those classified as chemically addicted.
In one study,the researchers selected seventeen subjects with online gaming addiction and another seventeen naive internet users who rarely used the internet. Using a magnetic resonance imaging scanner, they performed a scan to "acquire 3-dimensional T1-weighted images" of the subject's brain. The results of the scan revealed that online gaming addiction "impairs gray and white matter integrity in the orbitofrontal cortex of the prefrontal regions of the brain". According to Keath Low, psychotherapist, the "orbitofrontal cortex "has a major impact on our ability to perform such tasks as planning, prioritizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and controlling our mention". As a result, these online gaming addicts are incapable of prioritizing their life or setting a goal and accomplishing it because of the impairment of their orbitofrontal cortex.
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Ease of access to the Internet can increase "escapism in which a user uses the Internet as an "escape" from the perceived unpleasant or banal aspects of daily/"real life. Because the internet and virtual realities easily satisfy social needs and drives, according to Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailensen, "sometimes [they are] so satisfying that addicted users will withdraw physically from society.” Stanford psychiatrist Dr. Elias Aboujaoude believes that advances in virtual reality and immersive 3-D have led us to “where we can have a ‘full life’ [online] that can be quite removed from our own.” Eventually, virtual reality may drastically change a person’s social and emotional needs. “We may stop ‘needing’ or craving real social interactions because they may become foreign to us,” Aboujaoude says.
Effects on children
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"Internet has its impact on all age groups from elders to children. According to the article 'Digital power: exploring the effects of social media on children’s spirituality', children consider the Internet as their third place after home and school.
One of the main effects social media has had on children is the effect of cyber bullying. A study carried out by 177 students in Canada found that “15% of the students admitted that they cyberbullied others” while “40% of the cyber victims had no idea who the bullies were”. The psychological harm cyber bullying can cause is reflected in low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. It also opens up avenues for manipulation and control. Cyber bullying has ultimately led to depression, anxiety and in severe cases suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24. Cyber bullying is rapidly increasing. Some writers have suggested monitoring and educating children from a young age about the risks associated with cyber bullying.["citation needed]
Effects on parenting
"A psychologist, Aric Sigman, warned of the perils of “passive "parenting” and “benign "neglect” caused by parent's reliance on gadgets". In some cases, parents' internet addictions can have drastic effects on their children. In 2009, a three-year-old girl from New Mexico died of malnutrition and dehydration on the same day that her mother was said to have spent 15 hours playing World of Warcraft online. In another case in 2014, a Korean couple let their real baby die because they were so immersed in a video game that allowed them to raise a virtual child online. The effects of the Internet on parenting can be observed a how parents utilize the Internet, the response to their child's Internet consumption, as well as the effects and influences that the Internet has on the relationship between parent and child.
Parental Internet use and opinions towards family impact
Overall, parents are seen to do simple tasks such as sending e-mails and keep up with current events whereas social networking sites are less frequented. In regards to researching parental material, a study conducted in January 2012 by the "University of Minnesota found that 75% of questioned parents have stated that the Internet improves their method of obtaining parenting related information, 19.7% found parenting websites too complex to navigate, and 13.1% of the group did not find any useful parenting information on any website.
Many studies have shown that parents view the Internet as a hub of information especially in their children's education. They feel that it is a valuable commodity that can enhance their learning experience and when used in this manner it does not contribute to any family tension or conflicts. However, when the Internet is used as a social medium (either online gaming or social networking sites) there is a positive correlation between the use of the Internet and family conflicts. In conjunction with using the Internet for social means, there is a risk of exposing familial information to strangers, which is perceived to parents as a threat and can ultimately weaken family boundaries.
Parental response to child online consumption
A report released in October 2012 by "Ofcom focused on the amount of online consumption done by children aged 5–15 and how the parents react to their child’s consumption. Of the parents interviewed, 85% use a form of online mediation ranging from face-to-face talks with their children about online surfing to cellphone browser filters. The remaining 15% of parents do not take active measures to adequately inform their children of safe Internet browsing; these parents have either spoken only briefly to their children about cautious surfing or do not do anything at all.
Parents are active in monitoring their child’s online use by using methods such as investigating the browsing history and by regulating Internet usage. However, since parents are less versed in Internet usage than their children they are more concerned with the Internet interfering with family life than online matters such as "child grooming or "cyber-bullying.
When addressing those with lack of parental control over the Internet, parents state that their child is rarely alone (defined for children from 5–11 years old) or that they trust their children when they are online (for children 12–15 years old). Approximately 80% of parents ensure that their child has been taught Internet safety from school and 70% of parents feel that the benefits of using the Internet are greater than the risks that come along with it.
Conversely an American study, conducted by PewInternet released on November 20, 2012, reveal that parents are highly concerned about the problems the Internet can impose on their teenage children. 47% of parents are tend to worry about their children being exposed to inappropriate material on the Internet and 45% of the parents are concerned about their children’s behaviour towards each other both online offline. Only 31% of parents showed concern about the Internet taking away social time from the family.
Effects of Internet use on parent-child relationships
Researcher Sanford Grossbart and others explores the relationship between the mother and child and how Internet use affects this relationship. This study forms its basis around Marvin Sussman and Suzanne Steinmetz’s idea that the relationship between parent and child is highly influenced by the changing experiences and events of each generation. “Parental warmth” is a factor in how receptive a parent is to being taught the nuances of the Internet by their child versus the traditional method of the parent influencing the child. If the parent displayed “warm” tendencies she was more open to learning how to use the Internet from their child even if the parent happened to be more knowledgeable on the subject. This fosters teaching in a positive environment, which sustains a strong relationship between mother and child, encourages education, and promotes mature behaviour. “Cooler” mothers only allowed themselves to be taught if they thought that their child held the same amount of knowledge or greater and would dismiss the teaching otherwise suggesting a relationship that stems from the majority of influence coming from the parent.
However, despite warm and cool parenting methods, parents who encounter a language barrier rely more heavily on their children to utilize the Internet. Vikki Katz of "Rutgers University has studied the interaction between immigrant parents and children and how they use technology. Katz notes that the majority resources that immigrants find helpful are located online, however the search algorithms currently in place do not direct languages other than English appropriately. Because of this shortcoming, parents strongly encourage their bilingual children to bridge the gap between the Internet and language.
The Internet is increasingly being used as a virtual babysitter when parents actively download applications specifically for their children with intentions to keep them calm. A survey conducted by "Ipsos has found that half of the interviewed parents believe children ages 8–13 are old enough to own or carry smartphones thus increasing online content consumption in younger generations.
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