November , 2017
Losing the art of connection
14:05 pm

Ayantika Halder

14 year old Natasha had stopped going to school for the last four months. Her parents failed miserably to convince her to go to school. She could not eat, sleep or study without internet connection. She refrained from recreational activities. Natasha’s parents were surprised by her aggressive demeanour. She was taken to a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with online addiction. Such cases have become common worldwide. Internet use has increased exponentially among the youth. Dr. Douglas Gentile, Director of the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University reports, “Almost one out of every ten youth gamers shows enough symptoms of damage to merit serious concern.”

Beyond gaming, kids are devoting their time to social networking, instant messaging (IM), blogging and downloading. Dr. Kimberly Young, Director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery said that such kind of excessive indulgence results in irritation, agitation, depression and social alienation. Sanghamitra Singha, teacher of La-Martiniere for Girls, Kolkata, said, “Children who fail to build and nurture relationships or suffer from socialising with others are at greater risk of developing inappropriate or excessive online habits.  Internet becomes their companion. They cope with their problems by spending time online. They try to make friends online and eventually are hoodwinked into dubious relationships.”

Like addiction to drugs and alcohol, the internet offers children and adolescents a way to escape from problems. They sacrifice sleep to spend time online and withdraw from family and friends to escape into the comfort of the online world. Communication with parents dips resulting in an emotional breach where children fail to express their feelings and apprehensions. Sanghamitra Singha elaborated, “In some cases parents are responsible for the deterioration of their children. Some fail to understand that their children are falling into the pit and some give infinite liberty to their kids at a very young age. This happens mostly in nuclear families and to children without any siblings. Online addiction is also an outcome of peer pressure. If my friend is into online dating, why can’t I? Such thoughts often pressurise adolescents to fall prey to online addiction.”

Rahul Roy, a 15 year old student said, “I spend almost 8 hours daily on the internet. I mostly indulge in online gaming and social networking. But during my exams, I abstain from these kinds of activities. At that time, I use internet for my educational purposes. Whether it is for recreation or studies, it is impossible to shun internet use.” When asked whether his online activities are monitored by his parents, he added, “Both my parents follow a busy schedule. They don’t have enough time to see what I am doing on my laptop.”

Technology will continue to advance and its use is inevitable. But using it effectively is essential for the well-being of our future generations.  Dr. Arghya Pal, a consultant psychiatrist said, “Parents should be aware of what their children are doing online. They should ensure that the children are using the internet sensibly and for limited time. Reprimanding the children is not a solution. They should not make them feel that they are criticising or hampering their privacy but establish that they are concerned about the negative consequences. The success ratio for cure of such illnesses is higher among children and youth who reside with their families as they can always guide and remind them of the detrimental consequences associated with internet abuse.”

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