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What are the effects of being addicted to the internet?

I have notice an increase in my stress levels.
does the internet rob people of free thought?
Have we become too dependant on our computers and smart phones?

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    Jun 17 2011: Have you read "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains" by Nicholas Carr? There are some very interesting parallels between using the internet and how it changes the way our brain works, and some things he mentions were true for me. However, those changes are not irreversible (at least I think so) -- one example: reading articles online, there is always a temptation to "zap" between articles, websites, links, so you are less focused on what you read and you have trouble concentrating on the text, if you're not used to reading long texts -- but it's easy to train yourself (by reading) to improve your concentration.
    • Jun 18 2011: Bang on Simone....... I recommend everyone read the article"The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains" by Nicholas Carr ........................ Are computers making us more like themselves, robbing us of free thought?
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        Jun 18 2011: I wouldn't say so, I just can't agree with technological determinism. Not the machines themselves are bad or "robbing" us, but the way we use them. Freedom of speech and thought is possible with 0 and 1, and so are suppression and exclusion. The first computer scientists tried to rebuild the human brain in the 1940ies, but we don't have "real" artificial intelligence, let alone artificial empathy yet. Computers, informatics, information highways, the internet; those are all parts of our social structures, there's no doubt about that. But I don't really believe I would be a different person without all those electronic devices; I don't feel like a computer -- yet :)
        • Jun 19 2011: Simone... try living a week or two without internet or your cell phone... Would you be the same person? I'm concerned with technological evolution. Computers and smart phones are amazing devices, however they have an addictive nature to them. They have become more like television. Commercialism is now a mainstay on these devices, it is becoming difficult to separate fact from fiction.
          Freedom of thought is possible on the internet... Suppression and exclusion is real.
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    Jun 17 2011: Actually smart phones and computers have became too dependent on us.
    • Jun 17 2011: How so? Please elaborate.
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    Jun 17 2011: Once it goes up to addiction (which is observable to some extent) following can be outcomes

    Lesser and lesser time for real social interaction with family and friends.
    Lesser and lesser interaction with nature (lot people going for jogging in natural places with earphone plugged in)
    More and more into sedentary life style

    Sometime ago opened up a discussion on mobile phone use (thread pasted below) but didn't attract that much interest among community here :( .........http://www.ted.com/conversations/1765/what_about_having_some_breakou.html
    • Jun 17 2011: The community is in denial...
  • Jun 17 2011: My stress level has increased because the information highway has become the misinformation highway.
  • Jun 17 2011: The information highway has become the entertainment highway?
    • Jun 17 2011: I get enough entertainment watching people text while they walk into traffic.
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    Jun 17 2011: Most definitely! We are no longer living in the moment and life is passing so many of us by. We are not even totally "with" our friends/family/loved ones and enjoying them when we are connected, for that text or game or whatever is more important than the smiles and conversation of those whom we are with. There has even been a commercial showing this as a group of friends are out in nature around a campfire, but not doing what we would think...regaling in stories and looking at the wonder of nature, but each was silent and concentrating on their phones, completely obvilious to the wonderful world around them.

    Last year, I had a college student who was working on her masters paper that dealt with in the interaction of teens due to technology shadow me in class and then just observe our students at lunchtime. When the day was over, she told me she could not believe how different this all was compared to 6 years ago when she had been in high school and only a few kids had phones. She asked me if kids talk to each other any more? What she had seen were only some groups at lunch talking directly to friends as many were either on their phones, texting or listening to their ipods. She also told me that a few were texting in class that I could not see...and the texts seem to be more important than the lesson, and shook her head, Tthis is part of what I meant about not living in the moment, and in truth, becominmg more anti-social when dealing with real people. My students get addicted to their phones, and when we give the state test, we collect them...and one would think I was cutting off an appendage as I collect them. They are a nusance, a distraction and are used too many times for cheating esp. now since they all have cams.

    Levels of stress of my students and of most people have gone up since there is NO DOWN TIME as they are always connected to something....and that is not a good thing. We need down time and to relax our brains and our bodies. PLEASE, PEOPLE, UNPLUG
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    Jun 17 2011: From what I've experienced, I simply forgot to live in reality.I don't spend as much time with my family when I'm on the internet.I even forgot to eat sometimes! However, it all ends to us, how we manage our time and need is the main thing here.
    • Jun 17 2011: Has the internet affected the way we interact with our families and friends. Has face to face interaction been compromised?
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        Jun 17 2011: Somehow,yes.
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          Jun 17 2011: I agree with you and one has to learn to balance one's real life with this electronic one. I can recall that when I first got the net in 2000, there was one weekend that I never got out of my pj's and hardly ate or slept as all I wanted to do was to chat and surf the net. i even ignored phone calls. Luckily, I realized what I had done the next day, and I never let this THING control my life again.

          The net is a double-edged sword as it has not only brought so many people together from around the world who never would have met otherwise, but it has also broken up families, friendships and marriages.... or I should say that people allowed it to as they could not control their use of it. And really, what it has done to many marriages is a whole other topic.