Behavioural addictions quo vadis

Behavioral Addiction Facebook WhatsApp
Experts are debating the rising prevalence of Internet browsing, Internet gaming, Facebook and WhatsApp addictions.

We are hearing a lot about “digitizing India”. Digitization has its own advantages and disadvantages. Experts are debating the rising prevalence of Internet browsing, Internet gaming, Facebook and WhatsApp addictions. National Institute of Mental Heath and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) Bangalore has opened a clinic called SHUT (Service for Healthy Use of Technology) CLINIC.

As in case of addiction to alcohol or cigarettes, so does addictive behavior to technology have four core C’s:

  1. Craving– desire to engage in behavior,
  2. Control–  experience inability to control the behavior
  3. Compulsion– engagement in behavior, despite no need and
  4. Consequence– experienced effects due to engagement in these behaviors.

Students get acquainted with an online game like “avatar” or get access to “seductive” pornographic literature or get into Facebook chatting or WhatsApp sexting, it starts as a casual habit, but they get hooked on to it… they spend more than 6 hours (it’s the cut off suggested by experts.. But even as less as two hours could also be alarming) a day on this particular activity, neglecting their duties, sometimes even the bare minimum activities of daily living.

Behavioral Addiction Facebook WhatsApp
Experts are debating the rising prevalence of Internet browsing, Internet gaming, Facebook and WhatsApp addictions.

This leads to their feeling secure, lost in the virtual world, neglecting their studies, relationships, then even sometimes their health.

Psychiatrists have identified this behavioral addiction as a sort of “impulsive”or “compulsive” disorder. As in case of any addictions, this “behavioral addiction” also requires to be prevented.

Scales take into account following criteria.

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Internet/Facebook/WhatsApp or plan use of internet/ Facebook/WhatsApp,
  • You feel an urge to use internet/Facebook/WhatsApp more and more.
  • You use internet/ Facebook /WhatsAppin order to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Internet/Facebook/WhatsApp without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using internet/Facebook/WhatsApp.
  • You use internet/Facebook /WhatsApp so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

An objective inference is made looking into these aspects. Getting a self report from the Internet user it’s assessed whether he has “problem usage”. Just as easy availability of alcohol increases population addicted to alcohol, digital India is going to have more “behavioral addicts”, more of “shut clinics”.

Youth need to understand that the “false security of likes”, virtual friends that they get, can’t help them in “real world”. The “avatar” they create for themselves in online games, can’t compensate for what they are in life.

Let us start monitoring before we ask quo vadis

The treatment is multimodal… involves a psychiatrist, psychologist, a friend who monitors your use or a parent who controls your “net usage”. It involves your willful honest self monitoring, repeated visits to a psychiatric clinic , discussion, developing alternatives to ‘netting’ like gymming, mixing with real world, physical games, restricted use of gadgets, decide whether NET should be your ‘cutting edge’ or a ‘cut off’… choice is yours…

About the Author: Dr. P.V. Bhandary is a well-known Psychiatrist in Udupi and Medical Director at Dr. A.V.Baliga Memorial Hospital at Doddanagudde, Udupi. He was selected for CADABMA’S distinguished Psychiatrist Award 2012. This award is initiated for his outstanding services to the marginalized section of the society in the field of psychiatry. The award was presented to him at Bangalore in presence of His Excellency Dr. H.R Bharadwaj, Governor of Karnataka, His Excellency Dr. K Rosaiah, Governor of Tamil Nadu, and His Grace Dr. Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore and other dignitaries.

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