Wed, Feb 25th 2009 11:29pm
A new study from Taiwan says that teens with signs of "internet addiction" are more prone to aggressive behavior than other kids. While the researcher behind the study says that it could simply be that violence-prone teens are more likely to be heavy internet users, rather than the internet somehow causing this sort of behavior, it's hard to take anything that talks about "internet addicts" too seriously, since the evidence of internet addiction is fairly flimsy. The issue is that the "addictive" behavior -- heavy internet use -- is often just a hint or symptom of a bigger problem, something that some treatment centers for compulsive internet or video game users recognize. But this study sounds even flimsier than usual: it describes signs of internet addiction as "preoccupation with online activities; 'withdrawal' symptoms, like moodiness and irritability, after a few Internet-free days; and skipping other activities to devote more time to online ones." That sounds an awful lot like general teenage behavior, just replace the internet with some other activity. It also goes on to say that teens who spend their time online researching and studying are less prone to aggression than those who go online for gambling and porn, among other activities. If anything, it sounds like the researcher understates the degree to which the tail is wagging the dog here.
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