Cloud Cuckoo Land

Connectivity is the watchword of today civilization, even though many of us are running as fast as we can to catch up. This is a problem, of course, as the technology is speeding up and we are getting older and slower. So, now we have the question: “how much time do we spend struggling helplessly in that web?” Too much maybe.

Internet Addiction Disorder, IAD, is now a problem. A recent study by Yuan et al (1) took a close look at a group of nineteen-year olds who have been diagnosed with IAD. These young adults spent a little over 10 hours per day in Internet use for at least six days a week.

Five years ago, this would seemed to have been excessive, but today my eyebrows aren’t raised. With our social media duties of liking friend’s wall art and comments, with tagging this and that along with tweeting and searching for restaurants, we have little time left for aiding our avatar’s social lives on Second Life and have to pack in our multi-player activities into those key hours of the day when we are supposed to be glued to our TVs to see what we should be desiring tomorrow. Fourteen hours a day Internet free sounds pretty good.

However, this is not the case with young brains. The brain scans of the individuals in the study, showed decreases in gray matter compared to the expected norm, indicating that some loss of cognitive function in a range of areas was predicted. They also indicated greater feelings of depression. The longer the length of the addiction, the greater the degree of brain atrophy that was observed.

The cause and effects here are not entirely obvious. Detailed screening for other health issues was rigorous, but the social issues prior to addiction aren’t very clear. Once addicted, late nights on the internet were favored even when disrupting their family or room mates lives.

I will have to keep a check on my internet consumption and get back to spending evenings surfing the plethora of reality TV shows with my twitchy ADHD controlled fingers. IAD coupled with ADHD and equipment becoming outdated in six months after purchase, is likely to be catching up with more and more of us in the short term.


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