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Thursday, January 31, 2008

One Mother's Story

Looking at my last post, asking for your opinions on Internet addiction, I heard from one mother today. She worked in Public Health and had gone to three different psychologists to get her son help for his addiction to World of Warcraft. Known to players as WoW, she compared his addiction to heroin and described her son's state when he came home from college in vivid detail. “He came home from his first year of college. He was thin, emaciated, like a stick, like he hadn’t eaten in months. His skin was pasty and white. He was hairy, hadn’t had a hair cut in forever. His eyes were blood shot from lack of sleep. Our son was a good-looking, muscular guy who used to like being active. Now he is this zombie doing nothing else by staring at the computer. Now he wants to quit school. His father and I just don’t know what to do.”

Parents are looking for help for online gaming addiction. The Online Gamers Anonymous site was started by a mother whose son became addicted to EverQuest, subsequently committing suicide in front of the computer.

Managing online gaming for a son or daughter is difficult. Parents need to watch for signs. Much of my posting focuses on the person dealing with the addiction but we see that not only do the addicts suffer but so do family members.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Is Internet addiction real? Your Opinion

I enclosed an article published in 2000 entitled, "Is Internet Addiction Real?" Some of the point is that it shows where we as a mental health field were at that point in time. We were asking the question as this concept was so new and still evolving. Today, we do have more research, more findings, and more clinical treatment settings devoted to Internet addiction recovery. I thought it would be interesting to ask the same question today to see what online users thought.

One of the true signs of addiction is that a person experiences negative consequences as a result of something, whatever it may be - alcohol, drugs, or sex. With alcohol and drugs, a few common consequences are DUIs, jail time, and the loss of a job and/or relationship. A natural consequence for sex addicts is catching STDs. What are the consequences of Internet addiction?

In August 2005, a 28-year-old South Korean man died – not by committing suicide, but after playing the game Starcraft at an Internet cafĂ© for 50 hours straight. By all reports, the man had not slept properly and had eaten very little in that time. While no autopsy was performed, he was believed to have died from heart failure stemming from exhaustion. A 13-year-old Chinese boy died falling from a building. His parents are suing Blizzard Entertainment, makers of World of Warcraft. The boy was allegedly re-enacting a scene from the game. In the Nevada, a couple ignored their two toddlers to the point of neglect due to their gaming addiction.

The children of Michael and Iana Straw, a boy age 22 months and a girl age 11 months, were severely malnourished and near death last month when doctors saw them after social workers took them to a hospital, authorities said. Both children are doing well and gaining weight in foster care.

Police said hospital staff had to shave the head of the girl because her hair was matted with cat urine. The 10-pound girl also had a mouth infection, dry skin and severe dehydration. Her brother had to be treated for starvation and a genital infection. His lack of muscle development caused him difficulty in walking, investigators said. The prosecutor said, “They had food; they just chose not to give it to their kids because they were too busy playing video games.”

Attorneys said the Reno couple was too distracted by online video games, mainly the fantasy role-playing “Dungeons & Dragons” series, to give their children proper care.

Studies from China, Germany, Italy, Iran, Pakistan, and India have also documented cases of Internet addiction. Given the dramatic effects reported and studies on the consequences of compulsive use of the Internet, the question is "Do you think Internet addiction should be given the same status as other addictions?"