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Compulsive Internet Disorder

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The Internet has become an integral aspect of most people's lives, regardless of whether it's used for communication, information, or entertainment. Billions of people around the world send e-mail, chat online, read the news, and maybe even gamble, trade stocks, or play competitive games on a daily basis. Some have progressed into a dangerous realm, as the Internet can provide a sense of instant gratification or induce a withdrawal from the real world exactly like an addiction.

A number of psychologists argue that people who become addicted to the Internet already suffer from some form of disorder. For example, someone hooked on Internet gambling would still play in the real world, or someone with image or confidence issues would seek escape through another medium. Other professionals see the addiction as real, though, one which the medical world should recognize and insurance companies should cover treatment for.

While doctors and other experts debate the issue, South Korea has acted on the problem it views as egregious. In addition to counseling centers and treatment programs at hospitals, a rehab center for teens has recently been established. The country held the world's first international symposium on compulsive Internet disorder, too. Ninety percent of South Korean homes have Internet access, and online gaming is a well-recognized national sport. Children ditch school for marathon gaming sessions. Some gamers have even dropped dead after days and days online, deprived of sleep.

The rehab center offers teens the opportunity to connect with the real world, and rediscover satisfaction from it. During the twelve days, participants are barred from computers and may only use a cell phone one hour per day. The remaining time gets filled with physical exercise and group activities geared towards establishing real-life emotional bonds.

The center must turn away roughly four applicants for each available opening.


Preview some of the lesson material:

Rank It!: How serious are these addictions? Rank them in order. Remember to support your decisions!

  1. the Internet
  2. gambling
  3. texting messages on a cell phone
  4. alcohol
  5. cigarettes

Fill in the Blanks: Fill in the blank with the correct word.

  1. The Internet has become an (                         ) aspect of most people's lives.
  2. Some have progressed into a dangerous realm, as the Internet provides a sense of instant (                        ).
  3. The Internet can (                         ) a withdrawal from the real world exactly like an addiction.
  4. People who become addicted to the Internet already suffer from some form of (                         ).
  5. Someone with image or confidence issues would seek escape through another (                         ).
  6. South Korea has acted on Internet addiction, which it views as (                         ).
  7. The country held the world's first international (                         ) on compulsive Internet disorder.
  8. Children (                         ) school for marathon gaming sessions.
  9. Some gamers have even dropped dead after days and days online, (                         ) of sleep.
  10. The center has group activities (                         ) towards establishing real-life emotional bonds.

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. How many hours per day do you use the Internet? Do you think this is too much? Why?
  2. Is Internet addiction a real illness that doctors and insurance companies should recognize? Why/not?
  3. Could you go without a computer or the Internet for one week? one month? one year? Why/not?
  4. At which point does the Internet become an addiction rather than a useful tool? Please explain.
  5. What is the most useful invention of the last thirty years? How about the most dangerous? Why?

Google Search: Type "Internet addiction" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.


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