Internet: The other silent killer

You may not want to admit it, but you are an addict. It’s alright, though. I am, too. As a matter of fact, we all are. But what resource is so widely available that everyone, including you and I, has become addicted to it? You’re probably using it right now: the Internet. Some people may scoff at that; the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t recognize “Internet addiction” as a real disorder. “They’re experts, right?” you’re probably thinking. “So what do I have to worry about?”

Well, another group of experts at the University of Maryland published a study earlier this year that says differently. Researchers asked 200 students to go 24 hours without any form of media and blog about their experiences. The results were over 110,000 words in testimonials, the equivalent of a 400-page novel.

Students used terms normally applied to addiction to describe their symptoms. The most frequently used words: anxious, dependence, withdrawal, habit…and addicted. Now you’re probably thinking “Well, it’s not like anyone died or anything…right?” Once again, you’d be wrong. Internet addiction is very real and it’s killing people.

Just last week Alexandra V. Tobias of Jacksonville pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of her infant son, whose crying distracted her from playing Farmville. Tobias shook the child, smoked a cigarette “to compose herself” and shook him again. Her baby died of head trauma.

Earlier this year, a South Korean couple let their newborn daughter starve to death, neglecting her to play an online game. The objective of the game? To raise a virtual child. We may not want to be compared to these people, but just like they ignored their parental responsibilities, we sometimes ignore our responsibilities just to check a status or send a “tweet.” So finish that essay instead of browsing Youtube, listen to the professor’s lecture instead of texting. There are lives at stake: your own.