29 September 2010
By Siddharth Gadkari
The de–addiction centre says 3 cases of Internet addiction, where high school kids were spending 10 hrs daily on the Net, were treated
Considering the way it has come to rule our day–to–day existence, one could say the Internet is an unavoidable necessity, that grows into a routine.
It does come as a bit of a surprise to learn that there are Internet users – some still in school – who consider the Net to be more addictive than heroin. At the Muktangan De–Addiction Centre, for the first time, alcohol, tobacco and narcotics addicts are making way for Internet addicts, and the module for their cure is yielding results.
In recent weeks, Muktangan has treated three college–going Internetaddicts, all of whom were spending at least 10 hours a day on the Net. Two are city–based college students, and the third is from western Maharashtra. The profile is similar – all are from well–established upper class families.
Muktangan officials say the families had come to them, worried. The youngsters were behaving rudely with family members. Mukta Puntambekar, deputy director, Muktangan Mitra and project director, Muktangan De–addiction Centre, said, "Addiction is either substance abuse or substance dependency. Going by this, these three are addicted to the Internet. They spend 15 to 18 hours on the Internet. Families of all three children are well established and have their own computers. Their age group was 17 to 18 years."
"Ramesh’s (name changed to protect identity) father is an industrialist–cumpolitician from western Maharashtra. He found that his son was playing online lottery daily. He was behaving very arrogantly towards his parents. He was not listening to them, eating fast food and spending time on Internet in his room." "In our five–day programme, we counselled them. At first, all were in denial.
She added, "We spoke to them about their plans for the future, education and career. We wanted to make them think about their future. We took more time to counsel them, as compared to other patients as they are not mature and did not have any experience about life. That was a challenging task, because, we were faced with such type of patients here for the first time. We stuck to our plan, and now they are living normal lives and are spending less time on the Net. Amusingly, the parents are more curious about the internet now."
Puntambekar said her advice to parents was to firstly keep an eye on their child when s/he is using the computer. "This is another dark side of ithe Iternet that is coming to the fore, which not only harms an indiviual’s life but their family’s as well. Internet addiction creates loneliness, and adversely affects emotional life. Parents should keep a check on Internet usage at home. Nowadays. parents feel proud of their child if he or she plays with the computer," she said.
Sanjay Bhagat, coordinator, Muktangan, who was counselling one of the students, said, "One student came from a well–to–do business family. He was studying at a college on F C Road in Class XII. But, he had left home and was bunking classes, spending most of his time in cyber cafes. He did not sit for his Board exams. When his parents saw his results, he was marked absent. When they confronted him, he told them he had been spending time on the Internet throughout the year. Then, his parents came to Muktangan and narrated the entire episode. We admitted him into the five–week programme. We treated them with the help of meditation, counselling, diary writing, group therapy, yoga, reading books, indoor games, music therapy, gardening, quiz contests, role plays."