Internet addiction and ‚self-harming‘

A recent study published on Injury Prevention, a journal for health professionals and others in injury prevention, shows a distinct association between internet addiction and self injurious behavior among the adolescents.

The study was conducted on the high school students in Guangzhou City of Guangdong province in China. The participants were between 13 to 18 years of age.

While ‘self-injurious’ behavior (SIB) does not necessarily mean taking one’s own life, but it can lead to something of a life-time chronic psychological disorders.  SIB criteria for the participants include whether they had ever hit their self, pulled their hair, pinched or deliberately burnt their self etc. The time period of the SIB was restricted to the last six months.

Among 1618 youngsters, 16% of them were positive, meaning they committed some form of self-injurious behavior in the last six months.

More alarming is that about 9.7% hurt themselves 1 to 5 times in the past six months, while nearly 5% committed it 6 or even more times. However, severely or moderately addicted internet users are more prone to self-injurious behavior than the normal users.

Among the participants, about 45% use the net for entertainment, followed by nearly 20% looking for information and about 16% for communication. That means almost half of the users were looking for entertainment. 

Well, the question is why the young boys and girls hurt themselves while surfing online.  One simple reason – it’s the way the ‘victims’ are reacting to their online counter parts, either it’s part of a chat (hot or rogue) or a porno-style site that causes the surfer to react someway. Or it could be online games as well, where you will need to pull your hair or pinch your own self while trying to cope with the ‘flush of excitement’.

However, one interesting finding of the research is that those involved in self-injurious behavior are mostly ‘introvert’ in nature. And introverts would be more likely to hurt themselves while dealing with any situation rather than vehemently opposing any conflicting issue (like the extroverts).

None of the participants went too far harming their own self as it happened for 17 years old Alexis Pilkington. She was receiving harassing and insulting internet messages (called cyberbullying), that ended up taking her life. And even after her suicide, the harassing comments continued to appear in the so called social networking site

This means, the most tragic end of one’s life is the most enjoyable gift for the one sitting on the other side of the internet. That’s too ominous.

However, it’s the time for Governments, security agencies and other social organizations to come forward together with strict regulations to help protect people’s right and privacy as fast as possible before we lose our dear ones. At the same time, parents and schools can form joint ‘watch-body’ to keep an eye on any abrupt behavioral changes among the adolescents, as this is a very sensitive period of physical growth and psychological developments that may either bring ‘good or bad’ (depending on the circumstances) in later life of the addicted young’s.

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