In August this year, debates on the topic of Internet Addiction Disorder came back in the spotlight after Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, Washington, announced the first Web Detox Program in U.S., located, ironically, just a few miles from Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Seattle.
I’m sure that everyone has a friend or a relative who just can’t detach psychologically or physically from the world of online gaming or social networking.
Or maybe you’re one of them. Raise your hand if you consider yourself addicted to the Internet. Don’t worry, no one will judge you…everybody’s online 😛
For a sum of 14,500 dollars, Is considered that such an “addict” can be saved from himself and his virtual world at the end of 45 days of total Internet abstinence, spent at Heavensfield Retreat Center; out of here, the “patient” will step “as new” in the real world, completely cured of his obsession for Facebook, Second Life, online gambling and, why not, even SMS.
The center founders considered Internet addiction an extremely serious problem, considering that statistics say Internet affects between 6 and 10% of the internet users population.
How do you know you’re one of them? A list of 12 “signs and symptoms” was posted on the website of the new so-called “restart Internet Addiction Recovery Program”, and contains indicators such as an euphoric high mood when you’re involved in activities on the Internet”, “dishonesty towards others” and “physical changes such as fattening or weight loss, back pain, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome” (the latter being a persistent pain in the wrist caused by frenetic use of the keyboard).
And if, as according to the site’s specialists three or four positive responses to questions from the questionnaire suggest that you “abuse Internet”, five and above five show a clear dependence.
The first patient enrolled in the American program is called Ben Alexander of Iowa City, has 19 years, and his favorite game was until recently World of Warcraft (connoisseurs know why). “I played until I fall asleep with my head on the keyboard” he told in a television interview.
As the program is proud of the fact that he offers patients individualized treatment, in Alexander’s case, this meant pay more attention to his former hobbies: biology and cross-country crosses. Currently, out of “rehab”, although he does not “see” himself giving up totally on the Internet, considers however that he returned to a more “balanced” lifestyle.
Promoting a life free of internet access is not the intention of the founders of the clinic. “We are not anti-technology” said Hilary Cash, executive director of the Center. “It’s just about helping the technology-dependent people to overcome the critical period and to reintegrate them psychologically in the real world in a positive way.
The Internet rehab “fashion” is far from being an American concept. “Both China and South Korea have identified Internet addiction as a public health problem”, U.S. program founders stated in a press release. “By comparison, the United States have been slower to recognize and react to this problem, and only now appeared the first concrete measures. Our program is part of this process.
In China, a total of over 400 private rehabilitation clinics are offering their services for years to the 10 million Chinese teenagers addicted to internet, according to estimates: that’s 10% of the 100 million Internet users in the country.