Mental and Physical Health Effects of Internet Use Among Young Adults Term Paper

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Mental and Phsyical Health Effects of Internet Use Among Young Adults

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In the modern era of overeating, processed foods and an alarming level of obesity, that is quickly becoming a problem among the youth of the world; it is a wonder that there is not a more boisterous outcry in relation to the sedentary determinism that is created by the technology of the internet. "Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and promotes premature mortality. Children and adolescents can reduce their risk for later heart disease through regular physical activity." (Harris, 1995, p. 153) Yet, despite these observations, made by thousands of experts the draw to sedentary behavior through technology is vast in our culture, not to mention the reduction in behaviors either active or sedentary that are also reduced in time by doing such things as playing video games or surfing the net. "As often as language teachers lecture about the importance of continual practice to adolescent learners, the dullness of homework exercises designed primarily to be educational has difficulty competing with popular media designed solely to be entertaining." (Purushotma, 2005, pg. 80) This work seeks to analyze the physical and mental health of adolescents in its relation to the number of hours they spend on the internet. The potential dangers of an increasingly instant and entirely sedentary existence, created by ample opportunities for technology interface, that also involves little real face-to-face interactions, despite the complexity of relationships that can be created in many online venues should be a point of concern and requires a great deal of inquiry.

Review of Literature

The challenge in the modern research is to step away from the vast amounts of internet related research that detail ways that society as a whole can utilize and embrace the internet (Gattiker, 2001, p. iii) and begin to understand that there are serious potential problems, similar to those associated with the elder creation of the telephone and television. (Hatfield & Erbeck, 1997)

Term Paper on Mental and Physical Health Effects of Internet Use Among Young Adults Assignment

In the vast arena of research with regards to the effects of the internet, most researchers sing its praises but do not discuss the serious consequences of adding one more, very compelling tool to ensure sedentary lifestyles among the young, reduce positive or negative social interactions to a bare minimum and creating an anonymity (within certain limits) which does not guide socially acceptable language but rather allows verbal interaction (and fantasy play) that is easily construed by the outsider as offensive and even psychologically harmful.

In the literature that describes online time and stresses the detrimental health effects of frequent internet usage among adolescents, of which there is very little is a work titled Caught in the Net by Kimberly Young, which is a self-help guide for internet users with regard to actual addiction and recovery from it. It is also very informative about the actual level of the problem and is especially informative for young adults. According to her work and the works of others intervention, is much like that with any other addictive (non-substance) behavior, such as gambling in that it needs to first be recognized and then acknowledged by the individual be it through traditional cognitive counseling or as Young would see most fitting personal assistance. It is also interesting that such information coins a term that may mean a great deal more in the future, cyber disorder. Her work includes a comprehensive self-assessment tool that includes the following questions and is scored in the described manner.

15. How often do you feel preoccupied with the Internet when off-line, or fantasize about being online?

16. How often do you find yourself saying, "just a few more minutes" when online?

17. How often do you try to cut down on the amount of time you spend online and fail?

18. How often do you hide how long you've been online?

19. How often do you choose to spend more time online over going out with others?

20. How often do you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are off-line, which goes away once you are back online?

Answer all questions. Add up number selected. The higher the score, the higher level of Internet addiction. Evaluate the score based on the following scale: 20 -- 39 Points: average online user. There is control over Internet use, although use of the Internet may be lengthy at times.

40 -- 69 Points: frequent problems exist regarding use of the Internet.

70 -- 100 Points: internet usage is causing significant problems in life.

Issues need to be addressed. (Young pg. 31-32)

The descriptive nature of the assessment tool is tell tale of the real potential the Young believes to exist, in the world of internet users.

An additional work that discusses the new emphasis that must be given to the internet as a potentially damaging entity is one that discusses the need for the training of councilors, nurses and social workers in behavioral cognitive therapy for the treatment of internet addiction. Nurse psychotherapists will encounter the impact of today's technology on the daily lives of people including computer addiction. Computer addiction may also present with comorbidities such as depression, gambling, substance abuse, and marital infidelity and divorce. (Wieland, 2005, pg 153)

Another work of literature that develops an idea with regard to the addictive nature of massively multy player games, that have become so popular in recent years is a work called Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games by R.V. Kelly the world of these fast growing pastimes are explored. The work delves into the reasons why they are so attractive, touching briefly on their potential for abuse as well as on the many spin offs that occur as a result of the games, that according to the author enhance the experience for the user, including creating entire outside communications with people in the games through telephone, instant messaging and email interactions that can leave a player, and particularly a young player with few social interactions with the distinct impression that the world in the game is more real than the world outside it. The work is also notable in that it is based on three years of interviews that are compiled into quantitative and qualitative data about the scope of this trend. Though the potential negative psychological impact of the game world is touched upon by this author, who very interestingly is a creator of much more academic utilization of artificial environments is brief there is some more specific information in other works about the potential physical effects of over playing them.

Perhaps the most successful innovation in game designs is the development of modern massively multiplayer online games -- MMOGs. In these games, rather than playing within a pre-programmed environment, players exist as characters in a virtual world formed through their interactions with other live players on the Internet. The unparalleled success of these games should be of interest to anyone trying to understand adolescent motivation and attention. In stark contrast to the high school language teacher sometimes struggling to receive 30 minutes worth of homework from students, the alarming success of MMOGs has prompted the establishment of government organizations to control their use and psychological addiction (Yee, 2002) after a set of players neglecting to break for food collapsed following up to 84 hours straight at their keyboards (Farrell, 2002; Gluck, 2002). Makers of the popular online game "Everquest" (commonly referred to as "Evercrack" for its addictive properties) found the average player spends over 20 hours a week playing the game (Everquest or Evercrack?, 2002). (Purushotma, 2005, pg 86)

These worlds can have such an extreme emotional and social draw that the players themselves often comment on their addictive nature. Not to mention the physical and mental sapping that the over utilization of such worlds would have upon the life and learning of an individual at the brink of the growth of their social and intellectual skills. If and individual is willing to stop from eating to continue playing such a game there is clearly a potential for danger within them.

Another physical and psychological threat that can be linked to media, and particularly the internet is the exposure to ideas and concepts that could lead a child toward risky behavior. Risky behavior being sighted as the new health threat of this era. We have managed to make huge strides in the medical treatment of children, curing and preventive many problems which were historically causes of high mortality and have replaced the risk of infection with say malaria or the measles with exposure to violent and sexually explicit material online as well as the sedentary lifestyle choices associated with frequent internet use. "...instead of polio and other fatal or disabling diseases, children of the twenty-first century face new threats to their health: obesity, early sexual activity, drug use, as well as gun violence, traffic accidents, and a variety of other interrelated problems. Children are affected by what they see and hear on television, in the movies, in music, and on… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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