Facebook’s director of learning and development, Stuart Crabb, is urging users to sign out, turn off their computers and engage with the real world for a while.
Similarly, Cisco’s chief technology and strategy officer, Padmasree Warrior, says she meditates every night and spends her Saturday writing poetry and painting with her phone switched off. She describes it as ‘a reboot for your brain and soul.’
You know things must be bad when the people who created the websites we’re all ‘addicted’ to are telling us to get off them.
However, not everyone agrees. Eric Schiermeyer is the co-founder of farmville-creator Zynga. He believes that Silicon Valley is: “no more responsible for creating irresistible technologies than, say, fast-food restaurants were responsible for making food with such wide appeal.”
This begs the question: should manufacturers take responsibility for producing addictive products, or should consumers take responsibility for buying them?
How much of a choice do consumers really have, when the whole world is hooked to the Internet? Is it really so easy to tear ourselves away from our Facebook accounts, our emails, or our ebay accounts, when these things form such a significant part of our personal and working lives?
The next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – the reference book for all psychiatric disorders) will include ‘Internet use disorder’ in its appendix.
Experts do not claim that Internet addiction is a ‘real’ addiction (a psychiatric disorder) and extensive research needs to be carried out before such claims can be made. However, the side-effects of extended Internet use – such as poor nutrition, weight-gain, loss of fitness, detachment from the real world and headaches – certainly warrant concern.
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