Popular Posts

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Addiction to social networking causes serious mental health issues according to a new study

The Millennial Generation’s, also known as the Me Generation, biggest distinguishing feature is the tech-savvy abilities of its members. Many students cannot remember a time when there was no internet, no cell phones, and most importantly, no Facebook or Twitter. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing; it seems to have gone from a privilege to a given. There are repercussions to constantly monitoring social networking sites that many students are unaware of and that pose significant health problems. One of them is FTAD, Facebook/Twitter Addiction Disorder.
Recent research in the area of addiction has shown that four in five students suffer from significant mental and physical distress, panic, confusion and extreme isolation when forced to unplug from technology for an entire day. The study called “Unplugged” was jointly led by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA) and the Salzburg Academy. The global experiment was done at 10 universities last year and showed students suffering withdrawal symptoms similar to those associated with drug addictions when quitting “cold turkey.”  The conclusion provided a majority of almost 1,000 college students, in places like China, Britain, and America, who were unable to voluntarily avoid their gadgets for one full day.
One of the American students confessed their overpowering cravings were similar to the “itching like a crackhead,” giving new meaning to the nickname for the popular phone Blackberry: Crackberry. Most of the symptoms of addiction revolve around depression, anxiety, and isolation from the lack of news of what peers are doing.
There is no doubt of the popularity of social networking sites which allow many people to fulfill their basic social needs of feeling loved, accepted and part of a group. Dr. Michael Fenichel attributes the phenomenon of Facebook addiction to “the instant texting component the ability to post pictures and videos, play pop-psychology and pop-culture games and quizzes (applications), follow (slightly less than on Twitter) the every move, decision, feeling, and random thought of everyone in countless networks, and also maintain a homepage/wall for all to see and visit, makes this the best recipe for significant behavioral addiction, as it fills a large and ‘normal’ part of our lives.”
Student Emily Surovy, a sophomore, is an avid Twitter user who says, “[Twitter] puts you on a more personal level with people you’d never talk to in real life and makes you realize that they [celebrities] are people too.”
So far there have been six criteria identified in diagnosing FTAD. At least two or three must be present at any time during a 5-6 month period in order to be diagnosed. The criteria are:
1.      Tolerance, referring to the increasing amounts of time spent of Facebook and Twitter to achieve satisfaction.
2.      After trying to “get rid of Facebook,” it causes distress or impairs social, personal, or occupational functions such as the speed of your internet browser or the amount of time you spend obsessing about who wrote what on your wall.
3.      Important social or recreational activities are greatly reduced and/or migrated to Facebook or Twitter. (Socializing with friends has moved from hanging out in a dorm to only conversing through the Facebook chat feature.)
4.      If you express your affection for your boyfriend/girlfriend through Twitter or Facebook, or use the applications on Facebook to simulate a real date such as the FB CafĂ© World.
5.      You have no idea who 8 of the 10 people in your friends list are and you have more than a 1000 friends.
6.      You invite anyone you have met to become friends on Facebook and any notifications, messages, and invites give you a lift in your mood because you feel loved or popular.
As with any addiction, it is no laughing matter and should be addressed as quickly as possible. Gradually wean yourself off of Facebook and Twitter by cancelling the text message notifications, spend a set amount of time on each a day (no more, no less), hang out with friends in person, and call instead of messaging your friends.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Dangers of Internet Gambling among Teenagers

Internet Gambling has become an increasingly popular form of gaming.  Through online web sites, users can gamble through interactive television and mobile phones. The convenience of 24-hour access, the ease of setting up an online account and the variety of sites from traditional betting, to casino gambling, to lotteries - makes Internet gambling very appealing.
Individuals who start experiencing a problem with Internet gambling become preoccupied with gambling creating a disruption in their personal, family, and social aspects of their lives. Studies found that teen-aged Internet gamblers were more likely to have a serious gambling than other gamblers. Teen-aged Internet gamblers were also more likely to suffer from health and emotional problems such as substance abuse, circulatory disease, depression, and risky sexual behaviors.  According to the National Gambling Impact Commission, young children and teenagers are at the greatest risk to develop a problem with Internet gambling.  They estimated that 16-24 year old males comprise 4% of Internet gamblers and 11-18 year old males comprise 4-7% of Internet gamblers, a significant increase with advent of online casinos (www.ncalg.org). 
Brad, a 19-year old math major at the University of Minnesota lost his scholarship and had to resign from school because of his addiction to online gambling. “I didn’t start out thinking I would get so hooked,” he explained. “I started playing Texas Hold ‘Em after watching a poker show on TV. It was just something I did for fun. Then, I started staying up late, missing classes, spending tons of money; all my time was spent playing the game. It was more than winning and losing money. To be a good player, you’ve got to be smart and I liked the intellectual challenge and competitiveness of the game.”
Brad’s mother became concerned when she discovered Brad’s falling grades.
“I knew it was about the computer,” she said. “But no one seemed to believe me. A counselor at his school told me that it was just a phase but this was more than just a phase.” Parents and partners are usually the first to notice a loved one’s online gambling habit and the range of behaviors is similar to those for any type of gambling addiction:
  • Showing increased excitement when going online to find new gambling spots;
  • Rearranging schedules to permit more time for online gambling activities;
  • Feeling that a change in online gambling activities will bring good luck and subsequently increasing the size of their bets;
  • Chasing lost bets to try to catch up;
  • Placing larger bets and betting more frequently;
  • Boasting about winning and minimizing losses.
  • Going online to gamble when faced with a crisis or a stressful situation.
For the addict, these symptoms also result in changes in the person’s personality and routine behaviors. Suddenly there are unexplained absences from work, home, or other responsibilities. The addict becomes secretive, conceals or attempts to conceal how his or her time is spent at the computer, and outright lies about the real nature of his or her computer activity. Often, the gambling addict experiences mood swings, showing extreme highs when they win and extreme lows when they lose. Values go by the wayside and many violate their own principles. They begin to hide money, make secret loans, or make unusual, sporadic, or unexplained withdrawals from family bank accounts. Suddenly they find themselves capable of or actually stealing money from friends and family—then lying about it—in order to bet more, pay off debts, or recoup losses.