According to Wikipedia, Internet addiction disorder (IAD), or, more broadly, Internet overuse, is defined as” problematic computer use or pathological computer use, is excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. These terms avoid the distracting and divisive term addiction and are not limited to any single cause.” Internet addiction has become an increasingly serious problem worldwide and especially among teenagers. Most teenagers have grown up with computers and technology and as a result, their dependency on these technologies is more prevalent.
What is the impact of this issue on K-12 schools, educators, and students?
The Center for Internet Addiction says that people who are addicted to the internet “are unable to control their use, and are jeopardizing employment and relationships.” They go one to say that internet addiction is an impulse control disorder that “is most comparable to pathological gambling because of overlapping criteria.” The symptoms of internet addiction can have a serious impact on student behavior and performance.
Internet addiction can include obsession with social networking sites (such as Facebook), pornography, online gambling, online gaming (such as World of Warcraft), and compulsive web-surfing. Teachers should be aware of the symptoms of internet addiction so that they can be prepared to deal with this growing problem among their students. Some of these symptoms include:
– Failed attempts to control behavior
– Failure to complete assigned work due to internet activity
– Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities
– Neglecting friends and family
– Neglecting sleep to stay online
– Being dishonest with others
– Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of online behavior
• Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
The following video shows just how serious the impact of internet addiction can be on the adolescent. Although the video is amusing for us to watch, the seriousness of the issue that it is highlighting cannot be taken lightly. This video shows a teenage boy’s reaction to having his World of Warcraft account canceled by his mother:
I am not against online use or even online gaming. I have stood outside at midnight in November with millions of others around the world for releases of World of Warcraft expansions. Additionally, I will be waiting patiently for my husband as he stands outside at midnight on July 27 for the release of StarCraft II. The issue here is that people, particularly adolescent boys, are so susceptible to addiction and we as educators must be aware of the signs of addiction as well as tools to help prevent it before it starts. The role of the teacher extends outside of the classroom. You must be able to help your students see the value of the world outside of the internet so that they do not end up blurring the lines between reality and the online world.
Integrating this topic into a classroom activity:
Dr. Kimberly Young, one of the first people to research internet addiction, developed the Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire (IADQ) to diagnose the disorder. In my 6th – 12th grade classroom, I would consider it a useful and informative activity to give students the questionnaire. Many people who are addicted to the internet are not aware that they have a problem until it is too late so perhaps this quiz could help make students aware of how their internet use affects them.
Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire (IADQ)
Meeting five of the following symptoms were considered necessary to be diagnosed.
1. Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?
2. Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
3. Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
4. Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
5. Do you stay online longer than originally intended?
6. Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
7. Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
8. Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?