Treating Student Net Addiction

Courtesy of TechWeb Technology News China's young Internet addicts can now frequent the country's first halfway house for Internet addiction. China opened its first clinic for Internet addiction last year, but the halfway house is the first facility to provide a place where teens can spend a night and seek counseling and direction, according to a news report in Shanghai Daily. The house can accommodate four teens each night and is similar to a program in Hong Kong. Workers at the clinic drop in at Internet bars and offer teens a place where they can engage in other activities, obtain counseling and get a good night's sleep. Wang Hui, the top social worker for the program, told Shanghai Daily that the teens are not forced to go for help but the first group seemed to prefer it to homes with family problems. Kimberly S. Young, founder of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery and author of Caught in the Net, published research indicating that people who suffer from online addiction frequently engage in chat room discussions, role playing, viewing porn, shopping, and gaming. Gaming addiction has been a widely publicized form of Internet addiction. Just over a year ago, a man from South Korea died after reportedly playing for 50 hours straight, and earlier this year, a gaming addiction clinic opened in Amsterdam. Several Internet addiction resources and recovery programs are springing up in the United States as well. While the Internet addiction recovery business expands, professionals continue to debate whether there really is such a thing as "Internet addiction." Young and others have documented several cases in which people describe losing control of their lives, neglecting family members, work, sleep and food to stay connected to the Internet for one reason or another. Young's center offers a test to evaluate online addiction. The questions center on compulsion and choice, as well as whether Internet use affects important aspects of people's lives. The assessment is similar to those used by drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. Young said there have not been any studies on chemical changes in the brain proving Internet addiction, but there have been several studies documenting chemical changes in addicts in general. Young asserts that Internet addiction is similar to compulsive gambling, which the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association lists as a real mental disorder. And, some experts warn that connectivity is dangerous, even for employers, who could get sued for encouraging addictive behavior. On the other end of the spectrum, the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association in the United Kingdom maintains there is no neurological evidence to support claims of gaming addiction. No one claims to know, however, whether activities like gambling and Internet use lure people with compulsive tendencies or whether they can "create addicts" out of ordinary people. "From my research, I see that there are correlations with those who suffer from compulsive personalities and [Internet addiction] but there are no studies that examine cause and effect," Young explained Thursday. "Similar to other addictions, the causes are varied and not well defined."

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