The digital disconnect: In relentless pursuit of 'connecting,' we miss out on each other
While communication and gaming gadgets have convenienced and connected us in ways never before possible, they may also be profoundly hurting our ability to be social, empathic and involved with each other. The signs are everywhere — from the near collisions on city streets where drivers are too busy texting to pay attention to the virtual relationships on Facebook and the addiction to video games.
By Tyrone Beason
By the time people reach the forested Internet addiction recovery center outside of Fall City known as reStart, the time for pre-emptive action has long since passed.
This is where counselors Hilarie Cash and Cosette Rae treat clients who are holed up in their Internet bubbles, sometimes after losing partners, jobs and homes because of their problem. ReStart, which opened in August, is the first rehab center in the nation aimed solely at helping a new category of addict that researchers are still working to understand. By February, eight people had completed the program.
What's not new, perhaps, is the reason people come to depend on their virtual tools and worlds. "I think what we do is seek emotional satisfaction through texting or the Internet," says Cash, who became intrigued by the Internet obsession in the mid-1990s after meeting her first video-game addict. The problem is "it's like satisfying hunger by eating sugar."
It becomes a vicious spiral...
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March 8, 2010
Is there such a thing as internet addiction?
Can the internet be as addictive as drugs or alcohol, and should online games addicts be treated in the same way?
Smallwood, who doesn’t need convincing, interprets addiction as being “any substance or process that is continued despite increasing negative consequences. Addicts always do it more and more,” he says. “So a child plays internet games for two hours a day, then four hours, then eight ... I’ve had people doing 11 hours on it, but I don’t blame World of Warcraft — if someone is an addict, they are an addict.”
However, some people believe that software companies should take partial responsibility. Hilarie Cash, a mental health counsellor in America who runs ReStart, a treatment clinic for internet addiction, believes that games makers deliberately give their products an “addictive quality”. Many, she says, use the principle of intermittent reinforcement — “you have to be rewarded often enough to stay engaged but not so predictably that you get bored” — in the same way that fruit machines are designed to pay out to gamblers at certain intervals, to make the games more attractive. “Game-making companies hire psychologists to help them to design the right intermittent reinforcement schedule, but there is little effort on the part of these companies to put out warnings.”
Elizabeth Woolley believes that the suicide of her son Shawn in 2001 was the result of , , ,
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