“Anything that goes across a boundary becomes as disorder,” says psychologist and counsellor Mohana Narayanan. He is one of several mental health professionals cited in today’s Hindu Times in a story about the newly pathologised phenomenon of excessive time online. At Worlding we are a bit skeptical about these worries.
“With Internet Addiction Disorder all set to be published in the DSM-5 this year, the need to understand what it actually is and how to combat it is only growing. It is mostly found among kids, who spend most of their time surfing the Net and playing violent games online, or chatting away to glory. Internet addiction is also common among couples, who communicate with each other using social media while, in reality, they would be sitting next to each other!
“Many of the self-confessed addicted teenagers say that the Internet provides a safety blanket for them to escape from the trials and tribulations of real life. Faceless communication, which seems far less intimidating in comparison to face-to-face conversations, helps them to be honest about situations they would otherwise push under the rug. Constant neglect and isolation from real life peers and relatives also push people to seek comfort and an emotional connect with strangers online, which seems very satisfying at first.
“I go onto the Internet to escape real life,” says college student, Rachna Sukuru. “For those few hours, I can forget about college, projects and everything. It is just me doing things I love on the Internet.”
“Psychologist and counsellor Mohana Narayanan believes it is important for these youngsters to confront issues instead of using the Internet as a diversionary tactic. After a point ‘issues’ and ‘problems’ are used as excuses to get onto the Internet. If these problems are faced squarely, the person wouldn’t always reach out for a phone or computer.
“The constant need to connect and be aware of everything is one of the reasons people use the Internet in the first place. If used judiciously, it is not harmful, and as long as the person concerned exercises self-control, it wouldn’t escalate to an addiction.
“Anything that goes beyond a boundary, becomes a disorder,” says Narayanan. “If you surf the Net for 15 minutes everyday and feel good about it, fine, no issues there. But if you get anxious that you haven’t surfed, it becomes a problem.”