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The impact of the Internet in the modern world is overwhelmingly immeasurable. Over the last decade, there has been an enormous explosion in the internet use across the world. This phenomenon is attributed to the fact that personal computers and faster digital phone lines are commonplace in many homes and institutions today. Furthermore, many countries have made high-speed digital connections their national policies due to the ongoing modernization of their communication technologies. Consequently, these technological advancements in the wider field of Information Technology have led to a robust use of internet or other electronic devices for the purposes of communications, entertainment, and business transaction, banking and shopping (Gary, 2008, p. 74). Even though there are several benefits associated with the internet use, it leads to the undesirable media addiction among its users.
In the current technological era, internet connectivity and predominant use of other electrical device is a commonplace in many part of the world today. According to the 2010 World Congress Report of Information Technology, 75% of the world populations have an access to internet within the comfort of their homes. In line with the global development policies, all the governments make it their agenda to increase internet connectivity and computerization of public facilities such as schools and other public joints. For this reason, several children are becoming more and more exposed to the internet for entertainment, access to the learning materials and communications. Video games and other uses of internet or personal electronic media are highly addictive.
According to the 2010 Information Technology Survey conducted by Gary Nash, Professor at the Hamburg Institute of Communications and Mass Media, 80% of the world populations rely on the internet media and other related electronic gadgets for the purposes of communication, business operations, banking, entertainment, shopping or advertising. The 2010 Survey further made shocking findings that concern the use of internet and video games in the lives of children across the world- 60% of the children populations are totally reliant on internet and other electronic devices for the sake of entertaining online and programmed computer games.
It is most important to note that internet media and other forms of personal electronic media are not restricted to the entertainment arena alone, the school going children and youth would also need internet media to run educational software programs such as student portals within the educational institutions as explained by Nash in his latest publication Education and Media Technology in the Contemporary Society. Students need to internet to access educational sites, programs and online libraries so as to enhance their academic excellence and professional advancements courtesy of internet media. So far internet is the strongest and the most influential research tool which students at the higher institutions of learning cannot do without.
According to the Information Technology expert, “there exist several online sites and computer programs that provide entertainment and crucial educational programs to children of all ages” (p. 142). The diversity and availability of children oriented computer games and the prevalence of other computer or television entertainment and educational programs for children of all ages has prompted the lives of children to revolve around internet, television and other forms of personal electronic media as advanced by the scholar. This phenomenon has led to what is referred as media addiction. At the moment, the lives of children are never complete in the absence of television, personal electronic media, video and online games on a day-to-day basis.
Incidences of Media Addiction
In another independent study carried in different institutions of learning, Alan Greenblatt (2010) also made a supporting observation that the increased use of internet and other personal electronic devices among the world children population is highly addictive. The researcher made a stunning revelation that 60% of children rely on their personal electronic media, television, computer and video games for entertainment. This group of children could hardly find joy and fulfillment in engaging their peers in various physical activities. They hardly play with their colleagues in schools and they lead secluded lifestyles playing their favorite games on personal electronic gadgets.
Secondly, “these children develop very strong emotional attachment to the electronic and computer hardware as the major mode of interaction” (Greenblatt, p. 143). Once a child has been introduced into the internet and media tools, they always yearn for more and higher versions of the devices and game software so as to derive maximum fulfillment by getting the latest of entertainment. Similarly, the research also shows that such children are most likely to spend much of their time in school and back at home browsing on their phones or playing their favorite games. In extreme cases, the research links these clique of children to poor academic and physical performances in school because they spend much time exploring their gadgets but not engaging adequately in learning activities or interacting with the nature around them.
“Children who have been introduced to the electronic media at any given point in their lives develop storing liking for the media and the trend is irreversible” (Greenblatt, p. 145). They will always venture deeper into the electronic world for entertainment and crave for new adventures into the cyber world. It is a common observation that those addicted to the electronic media spend larger percentage of their gross income either acquiring new gadgets or subscribing to entertainment sites thereby forfeiting basic needs depending on the magnitude of their corresponding addiction. This level of sacrifice for the sake of electronic gadget at an individual level shows that media addiction is a reality and a force to reckon with.
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Why Internet Media is an Addiction
Just like any other form of addiction, the media users cannot afford to do without internet media because it entangles all aspects of their private and public life. Most significantly, electronic media such as video and computer games (both programmed and online) have proven to be independent worlds in their own rights. Based on the 2010 Information Technology Survey, children who were introduced to the world of computer games and internet media develop highest degree of dependency on the media since all aspects of their lives revolve around it. Virtually, these children rely wholly on media for the purposes of entertainment, learning, shopping, banking, education, and communications. As such, they cannot lead a normal life without an access to internet media.
Secondly, the internet media disrupts the social life of its users over the period of their use. It increasingly separates its users from the physical and social worlds around them. The moment a child is introduced to the world of internet and cyber space, the immediately develop an irresistible urge to venture more into the world of electronic world. Since this influential type of media gradually substitutes the place of social interactions and human friends of its users, they are under an obligation to develop undying emotional attachment with the electronic devices over a period of time. This phenomenon drives users to lead a secluded life as they devote much time interacting with their personal electronic devices and internet tools. Consequently, internet users get absorbed more and more as they ventures into the world of internet media.
Even though there are several benefits associated with the use of internet media, I am fully convinced that it is highly addictive over a period of time.