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Compulsive Internet Disorder

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The Internet has become an important aspect of most people's lives, because 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 moved into a dangerous realm, though. The Internet can provide a sense of instant fulfillment or cause people to withdraw from the real world, exactly like someone addicted to drugs or alcohol.

A number of psychologists state that people who become addicted to the Internet already suffer from some kind of illness. For example, someone hooked on day trading would still recklessly buy and sell stocks by phone or face to face with a broker. But other psychiatrists see the addiction as real. These professionals believe the medical world should recognize Internet addiction, and insurance companies should pay for treatment.

While doctors and other experts debate the issue, South Korea has already acted on the problem. 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 conference on compulsive Internet disorder, too. Ninety percent of South Korean homes have Internet access, and online gaming is a national sport. Children ditch school to play games. Some gamers have even dropped dead from exhaustion after days and days online.

The rehab center offers teens the opportunity to rediscover satisfaction with the real world. 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 which establish real-life emotional bonds.

The center turns away about 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 important (                         ) of most people's lives.
  2. People around the world send e-mail, chat online, and maybe even (                         ) every day.
  3. Some have moved into a dangerous (                         ), though.
  4. The Internet provides a sense of instant (                         ), exactly like someone addicted to drugs or alcohol.
  5. For example, someone could be (                         ) day trading.
  6. He would still (                         ) buy and sell stocks by phone or face to face with a broker.
  7. In South Korea, children (                         ) school to play games.
  8. Some gamers have even dropped dead from (                         ) after days and days online.
  9. During the twelve days, participants are (                         ) from computers.
  10. The center turns away about four (                         ) for each available opening.

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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