Cy­ber Ob­ses­sion

Grow­ing trend of in­ter­net ad­dic­tion among chil­dren


When Pooja’s* fam­ily, re­sid­ing in Satel­lite town, Ahmed­abad, be­gan to no­tice that their 12 yearold daugh­ter was log­ging onto her com­puter even when she got up to drink water or go to the toi­let at night, they re­alised there was some­thing wrong with her ex­ces­sive com­puter us­age. Sim­i­larly when the Pa­tel’s* re­sid­ing in Alka­puri in Vado­dara no­ticed that their 13- year old son, Ajay* hardly ever went out to play with friends but was on the in­ter­net all the time, they be­gan to worry.

Sit­u­a­tions such as these have be­come com­mon­place in In­dian cities to­day with many chil­dren spend­ing a large num­ber of their wak­ing hours on their com­put­ers. Even though it may not al­ways be the case, symp­toms such as this could point to the de­vel­op­ment of a grow­ing phe­nom­e­non among city- slick­ers in In­dia, which is In­ter­net Ad­dic­tion Dis­or­der ( IAD). IAD is a con­di­tion where an in­di­vid­ual com­pul­sively and al­most al­ways un­pro­duc­tively, uses the in­ter­net and finds any at­tempt to limit in­ter­net us­age dis­tress­ing. Vado­dara based clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, Dr Ronak Pan­dit, says, “One of our pa­tients was a six year old boy who kept look­ing at zoo an­i­mals for hours at a stretch on the in­ter­net which be­came a mat­ter of con­cern for his par­ents. He had to un­dergo al­most four months of coun­selling.”

To re- as­sert claims by ther­a­pists about this ris­ing trend, a 10- city wide sur­vey of by ASSOCHAM in 2010 had re­vealed that more than 55 per­cent ( of those sur­veyed) aged be­tween 8 and 18 were spend­ing an av­er­age of five hours on the in­ter­net ev­ery­day. Ther­a­pists say that while ex­ces­sive in­ter­net use does take an ad­verse toll on the child, it should be kept in mind that, like other ad­dic­tions, if the child is abruptly cut off from the net, the with­drawal ef­fects might have a worse im­pact. Pulkit Sharma, Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­o­gist, VIMHANS, Delhi says that un­like other ad­dic­tions IAD is tricky to spot as it is rel­a­tively un­known. “IAD among chil­dren and teens gets complicated as it also starts spoil­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween them and their par­ents.” He adds, “The key in treat­ing IAD lies in see­ing things from the child's per­spec­tive and iden­ti­fy­ing the root cause.” Even though there are no spe­cialised dead­dic­tion camps ( like in the US) in In­dia yet, ap­proach­ing drugs and al­co­hol dead­dic­tion cen­ters can be a way to deal with IAD. To en­quire/ re­ceive treat­ment and ad­vice on ex­ces­sive in­ter­net us­age, you can also ap­proach a rec­om­mended clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist or psy­chi­a­trist hav­ing an ex­per­tise in ad­dic­tion coun­selling and man­age­ment. Cen­ters such as Kripa Foun­da­tion in Vado­dara, Ster­ling Hospi­tal and Dr. Bhi­mani’s Healthy Mind Clinic in Ahmed­abad and VIMHANS, New Delhi are good op­tions to get help. * Names have been changed upon re­quest. With in­puts from Devika Chaturvedi.

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