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Internet Addiction, Feel Experts, can Cause People to Become More Impulsive, Impatient and Even Narcissistic
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By Rohan Swamy
FOR 20–year–old Ankush Jha, a Flacklustre internet connection, being in a no network coverage area, or even working on a slow laptop translates into either yelling out his frustration or venting it out on his peers in a rather unruly and uncouth manner. “I need to work on systems that are perfect and have no issues whatsoever,” says Jha defiantly. His is a problem that is faced by people who are hooked onto the Internet and to their gadgets, but it is also a trait that is fast merging into the personality of human beings in general. Being unable to cope with slow electronics, or even people who are not fast enough is a fall out of the uber quick generation and its fascination with speed. And to top the increasing exposure to technology, experts feel that excessive use of the Internet, cellphones and other gadgets can result in our clan becoming more impatient, impulsive, forgetful and even more narcissistic.
“It is definitely a cause of worry,” says psychologist Dr Kalpna Menon, adding, “the virtual lifestyle that most people aged between 1240 lead is definitely a major cause of the same. Spending a lot of time with our devices suggests that excessive dependence on cellphones and the Internet is akin to an addiction, which is fast becoming a modern day psychological disorder.”
Echoing a similar thought, Dr Elias Aboujaoude, director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford, states in one of his articles that life nowadays has started resembling a chat room and the virtual dependence is causing more and more people to become cognitive in their lifestyle.
Thirty–four–year–old Rajeev Sharma, a software engineer, admits that his frustration is compounded when he encounters people to whom he has to slowly explain things! “I hate repeating things over and over again. The same thing goes for any task. If I've to do it more than a couple of times, it really puts me off, and especially if it's because of someone else!” he says.
In a study to be published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia subjected 173 college students to tests measuring the risk for problematic Internet and gambling behaviours. About five percent of the students showed signs of gambling problems, but 10 percent posted scores high enough to put them in the at–risk category for Internet 'addiction'.
And while optimists might think that there is an easy way to conquer the same, author Nicholas Carr of the new book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, says that social and familial responsibilities, work and other pressures influ ence our use of technology. “The deeper a technology is woven into the patterns of everyday life, the lesser is the choice we have about whether and how we use that technology,” writes Carr on his official blog.
And exploring a thought similar to that is Dr Aboujaoude, who in his new book, Virtually You: The Internet and the Fracturing of the Self, which will be out next year, states that: 'It may be that the immediacy of the Internet, the efficiency of the iPhone and the anonymity of the chat room that change the core of who we are.' One of the other topics that he will be touching upon is the fact that the vast storage available in email and on the Internet is preventing many of us from letting go, causing us to retain many old and unnecessary memories at the expense of making new ones.
“Texting and IMing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,” says 18–yearold Shonali Mukherjee, an engineering student. “When I am in a place where I cannot access the Internet or my mobile phone, I feel quite alone and secluded,” she confesses.
Sites like www.NetAddiction.com of fer self–assessment tests to determine if technology has become a drug.
Among the questions used to identify those at risk are: Do you neglect housework to spend more time online? Are you frequently checking your e mail? Do you often lose sleep because you log in late at night?