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Internet Addiction and Effects on Students

As a teacher, tutor, and former top-rated video game player, I’ve noticed an alarming trend between the number of hours students play video games and the rise in ADD and ADHD diagnoses in schools. It prompted me to search out studies that link electronic stimuli with a rise in these two disorders. What I found, is that the evidence seems to support that the more people play video games or surf the web, the shorter their attention spans become, as well as decrease their ability to focus.

I’ve noticed within myself a lack of patience to engage in conversations that were more full of detail and didn’t get quickly to the point. Not only is my ability to study reduced, but my ability to communicate with others is severely diminished in the real world. Conversations become boring, I have a hard time sitting through a good movie, if it lacks constant stimulation. I’ve noticed these same trends in many of my students who play video games on a regular basis as well. Conversely, from my observations, homes that limit stimulation from TV, internet, and video games tend to produce students with higher test scores, grades, and better social behavior. It begs the question, how much is too much? Does the student neglect important tasks to play games? Do they forget things easily? Do they grow impatient in conversations? Do they become irritable if they are not allowed access to electronic stimuli? You may have electronic addiction in your home. One may think that this type of addiction is no big deal, but anytime we develop obsessive behavior patterns, it tends to produce harmful results. Will the student shirk their homework or rush through it to get back to what they really crave? Do they ignore chores or miss deadlines, because they have learned to procrastinate too much? Do they develop anti-social behavior toward their family that is beyond the normal, but dismissed as being normal for an American teenager. Are their language and social skills inhibited by the fact that their friendships and conversations happen online and in internet shorthand? I can speak to how many formal essays I have graded that littered lol, jk, ur, cuz, and other such internet jargon, throughout what may have otherwise been, excellent points.

As if these other factors were not problems enough, what can happen if the addiction carries over into adulthood? At least once a month you can find a news story about someone who commits suicide due to a gaming or social network problem. Additionally, how many adults lose their jobs, due to habitually calling in sick to play the latest version of a video game? You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’ve seen it time and time again. My roommates lost their jobs for this very reason. Some of my better friends missed coming to my birthday party, because they wanted to do a raid in World of Warcraft. The social consequences and scope of this problem are endless.
More and more studies are now linking video game and internet addiction to the rise in learning disabilities such as ADHD and even Autism. Don’t just take my work for it, search out the studies with Internet Addiction and ADHD or other similar search phrases. There were so many articles, it was hard to narrow down and list only a few.

What can we do to combat these growing trends? Limit electronic time in the home? Read more books? Spend more time outdoors? Spend more time studying? Meet new friends and go places? All of the above?

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