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In studio:
Female reporter: Uhh, If you can’t put down your iphone, or you feel the need to constantly your Facebook status, you could have a legitimate illness. Internet addiction will be included in a manual of mental health by The American Psychiatric Association next year.
Male reporter: In a moment we'll be joined by two experts here in the studio, but first real-life example from Dr. Nancy Snyderman.
Operator: 9:11
Brooke McSweeney: Hi, I need you guys to send an officer to my house.
Field Reporter: This is the voice of a mother in Fishers Indiana.
BM: Yeah, he’s just crying and really upset.
Field Reporter: Her seventeen year old son, Chris, turned when she took away his computer, so Brooke McSweeney called the police.
Field Reporter: So, he put a in this wall?
BM: Yeah.
Field Reporter: Brooke says her son is an addict, hooked on drugs or alcohol but internet games.
Field Reporter: How can you decide that it’s an addiction and not just a habit or something that an boy is going through?
BM: Because his whole demeanor has changed. His whole , like his, he’s just a different person. He can’t uhm, leave the game.
In studio:
Male reporter: Uhmmm…
Female reporter: Let’s bring in the editor of CNET Australia Shamus Burn and .
Collette Smart: Good morning to you both.
Shamus and Collette: Good morning.
Female Reporter: Now Shamus, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports 60% of adults go online daily.
Shamus: Uhm.
Female reporter: That’s, not so bad. What are the telltale signs though of internet addiction?
Shamus: yeah, I think the biggest thing is you know with your real life, I think that’s that's kind of one of the most things. You know if people are starting to pull away from their job, you know, more sick days all those kinds things 'cause they just spending so much time online at that, that they're losing that real with uh... with the people that that they spend time with, or how they make their money, all that kind of thing I think that the time spent online yeah, unless it's incredibly extreme, I think that's not so much problem as how they are disconnecting and are they feeling emotionally kind of you know like anxious and and things and that that only feels when they actually get back on the internet.
Female Reporter: Uhm…
Male Reporter: Yeah, right. Now Collette, you deal with this in your own practice, uh... when we're talking online, I mean are the people getting addicted to games or is it social networking or is it pornography? What are they spending their time online doing?
Collette: I think it's a whole range of things. You mentioned the diagnostic manual before, and we know internet addiction is not listed in the diagnostic manual, but it’s certainly being considered because we've seen a range of things from the problematic to pathological type of gaming or internet behaviour where, as Shamus said, it’s taking away from other areas of your life that are extremely important. And so we’re even seeing now with neuro signs, we’re seeing, uh, brain imaging where we can observe through that, changes in the structure and the brain function of very heavy gaming users.
Female Reporter: Right.
Collette: Although anybody who’s heavy, heavily using the internet, not just gamers.
Male Reporter: well this is fascinating isn’t it? Because there was a specialist last year visiting us here in Australia who was talking about exactly this same thing, saying that when you don’t have enough face-to-face , your brain rewires itself so as not to be able to read people’s…
Collette: Yep,
Male Reporter: …faces…
Collette: Yes
Female Reporter: really?
Male Reporter: I mean that can have a serious impact therefore on your relationships, can’t it?
Collette: Yep, and, and we call it ‘the compulsion loop’. So basically what happens is it’s almost like the virtual carrot being dangled. So, uh uh it’s a never-ending story. So like when you read a book, you finish a book or finish a series of books, and there’s an ending. On the internet, there is no ending. So it’s this and getting to the carrots and once you reach the carrots there's another promise of another reward and so it’s kind of always open-ended. And that's kind of the issue when people really can never get off it.
Male Reporter: It’s a vacuum farm of carrots.
Female reporter: So, how do you treat these?
Collette: Well, good psychologists who specialize in areas of uhm internet addictions or problems or problematic behaviours will be able to give you skills in how to uhm, allow the internet to be controlled by you rather than it control you. Uhm, so you have the control. Even in the U.S. now we’ve actually seen the first residential programme which is similar to the way we treat other uh addictions and , we see that happening in the U.S. now.
Male Reporter: Shamus, just quickly before we go…would it be possible technologically speaking, that if you say were on one site for more than, I don’t know, 4 hours, that that site would instantly, you know, automatically give you a pop-up saying, ‘Do you want a log out now?’
Shamus: I mean some of the like Net Nanny type tools that are out there you know that a parent can install on a computer, you can set those up so that they limit specific amounts of time per programme, so you can kind of set these things up. And you know I think when it comes to kids, you know, this comes back to that fundamental thing of don’t just let your kids just use computers however they please. Set limits, set and stick to them so that you can actually ensure that they’re balanced in how they use it rather than just disappearing uh into other worlds.
Collette: Stick to the age limits. please parents. They’re there for a reason and maintain good sleep hygiene. Get the computers and technology out at night, that’s one of the biggest things we say to parents.
Male Reporter: Did you hear that boys? No more than ten hours a day of Mine Craft and Sky Room. That’s what the doctors said.