Internet addiction needs to be treated, says expert

Internet addiction needs to be treated, says expert

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Internet addiction needs to be treated, says expert

Some people, who spend a great deal of their time with the Internet, develop functional problems in their social, professional and private lives due to uncontrolled Internet use, according to the report presented to the Turkish Parliament’s commission. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Bakırköy’s Professor Mazhar Osman Mental and Neurological Disorders Education and Research Hospital, has said Internet addiction is a real disorder and should be treated as such, addressing the Turkish Parliament’s Informatics and Internet Research Commission, which was recently formed to study the social effects of the Internet.

“The Internet, which is pervasive in many areas of modern life, has a pretty short history. Some people, who spend a great deal of their time in the virtual world, develop functional problems in their social, professional and private lives due to uncontrolled Internet use, which has made the issue a topic for wide discussion. The rate of Internet addiction varies, but it affects between 1.5 and 2.8 percent [of the population],” Şenormancı said.

According to Şenormancı’s presentation, methods similar to those used in the treatment of alcohol and substance addiction can be used effectively to treat Internet addiction as well. He also said that uncontrolled use of the Internet affects all cultures, and causes destructive results. “Learning to write computer code is easier than solving the codes that govern people’s behavior,” he said. 

Indications of Internet addiction

Şenormancı said that there are eight leading indicators of Internet addiction, and when a few of them occur together, it may mean that an individual’s Internet use has become a problem.

“These indicators include excessive mental preoccupation with the Internet; excessive need to connect to the Internet, unsuccessful attempts to reduce Internet use; feelings of deprivation, which may be expressed as dysphoria or restlessness, when Internet use is decreased; problems with scheduling or keeping up with daily activities; lifestyle or relationship problems due to excessive use of the Internet; acting dishonestly in order to get or remain connected to the Internet, such as lying or stealing; and changes in emotional affect when connected to the Internet.”

Şenormancı gave the following advice for using the Internet in a healthy way: “One should only use the Internet for a reasonable period of time each day, and people should distinguish the difference between real-life communication and virtual communication. Also, the Internet should not be allowed to become a source of identity.”

Internet addiction also has some physical symptoms, Şenormancı said. “Internet addiction can eye dryness, back pain, weight gain due to inactivity, carpal tunnel syndrome, sleeping disorders and blood sugar disorders in diabetic patients, because they forget to eat.”

The first clinic to treat Internet addiction was opened in Beijing in 2006, and Internet addiction has been defined as a national problem in the U.S., China, South Korea and Taiwan. Şenormancı said that more than 140 clinics exist to treat patients for Internet addiction in South Korea.

“Treatment costs $14,000 [per patient] in the U.S., but in Turkey these expenses can be covered by the Social Security Institution [national healthcare]. The sound of the computer when it is connecting to the Internet, the feeling of typing on a keyboard, and even the smell of the room where a person uses the Internet contribute to conditioning and create addiction.”

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