Monday, October 31, 2011

Internet gambling in teens!

From Dr. Kimberly Young's blog:

The Dangers of Internet Gambling among Teenagers

Internet Gambling has become an increasingly popular form of gaming.  Through online web sites, users can gamble through interactive television and mobile phones. The convenience of 24-hour access, the ease of setting up an online account and the variety of sites from traditional betting, to casino gambling, to lotteries - makes Internet gambling very appealing.
Individuals who start experiencing a problem with Internet gambling become preoccupied with gambling creating a disruption in their personal, family, and social aspects of their lives. Studies found that teen-aged Internet gamblers were more likely to have a serious gambling than other gamblers. Teen-aged Internet gamblers were also more likely to suffer from health and emotional problems such as substance abuse, circulatory disease, depression, and risky sexual behaviors.  According to the National Gambling Impact Commission, young children and teenagers are at the greatest risk to develop a problem with Internet gambling.  They estimated that 16-24 year old males comprise 4% of Internet gamblers and 11-18 year old males comprise 4-7% of Internet gamblers, a significant increase with advent of online casinos ( 
Brad, a 19-year old math major at the University of Minnesota lost his scholarship and had to resign from school because of his addiction to online gambling. “I didn’t start out thinking I would get so hooked,” he explained. “I started playing Texas Hold ‘Em after watching a poker show on TV. It was just something I did for fun. Then, I started staying up late, missing classes, spending tons of money; all my time was spent playing the game. It was more than winning and losing money. To be a good player, you’ve got to be smart and I liked the intellectual challenge and competitiveness of the game.”
Brad’s mother became concerned when she discovered Brad’s falling grades.
“I knew it was about the computer,” she said. “But no one seemed to believe me. A counselor at his school told me that it was just a phase but this was more than just a phase.” Parents and partners are usually the first to notice a loved one’s online gambling habit and the range of behaviors is similar to those for any type of gambling addiction:
  • Showing increased excitement when going online to find new gambling spots;
  • Rearranging schedules to permit more time for online gambling activities;
  • Feeling that a change in online gambling activities will bring good luck and subsequently increasing the size of their bets;
  • Chasing lost bets to try to catch up;
  • Placing larger bets and betting more frequently;
  • Boasting about winning and minimizing losses.
  • Going online to gamble when faced with a crisis or a stressful situation.
For the addict, these symptoms also result in changes in the person’s personality and routine behaviors. Suddenly there are unexplained absences from work, home, or other responsibilities. The addict becomes secretive, conceals or attempts to conceal how his or her time is spent at the computer, and outright lies about the real nature of his or her computer activity. Often, the gambling addict experiences mood swings, showing extreme highs when they win and extreme lows when they lose. Values go by the wayside and many violate their own principles. They begin to hide money, make secret loans, or make unusual, sporadic, or unexplained withdrawals from family bank accounts. Suddenly they find themselves capable of or actually stealing money from friends and family—then lying about it—in order to bet more, pay off debts, or recoup losses.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Surfing porn at work?

Surfing porn still popular at work

Toronto— The Canadian Press
In a relationship with pornography that spanned three decades, Michael Leahy said it was in the final five years that his use of the material went beyond recreational — it became an obsession.
At the height of his addiction, Leahy worked out of a cubicle for a computer company in Atlanta, and accessed porn online for an hour or two a day. As a company salesman who was often on the road, Leahy said that tally could reach as many as eight hours in a day.
“Of all the places where I acted out sexually in inappropriate ways, I did it more often at work than any place else,” said Leahy, 52, a recovering sex addict, founder and executive director of BraveHearts and author of “Porn Nation” and “Porn@Work.”
“Work was a safe place for me in essence because my wife at the time, she was at home with our children, and home wasn't a safe place, and what other choices do you have at that time?”
The Center for Internet Addiction Recovery says estimates suggest one in five Internet addicts are engaged in some form of online sexual activity, primarily viewing porn and/or engaging in cybersex. Statistics have also shown 70 per cent of all Internet porn traffic takes place during the 9-to-5 workday.
A 52-year-old employee with Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services was arrested and charged last week after child pornography images were found on his work computer.
If you're serious about keeping your job, you've got your breaks, your lunch, you've got your own BlackBerry. Get an iPhone and do what you want to do on your time. Fiorella Callocchia, a certified management consultant
And south of the border, an investigation of employees with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission found senior agency staffers were spending hours surfing pornographic websites.
In one case, a senior attorney spent up to eight hours daily looking at and downloading porn, burning files to CDs or DVDs when he ran out of hard drive space. In another, an accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a month from visiting websites classified as “sex” or “pornography.”
In an era where many employers are cracking down on personal use of office computers for non-work related activity, why would employees run the risk of trying to access explicit material using company resources — and on-the-job time?
“I think that people perhaps think they can get away with it,” said Penny Lawson, manager of the Sexual Addiction Treatment Program at Bellwood Health Services in Toronto, which specializes in treatment of addiction and mental health problems.
“Not everybody who accesses porn at work has a sexual addiction. But certainly someone with a sexual addiction, the risk of getting caught increases the excitement around it.”
While there are many types of behaviour a sex addict will engage in, a very large proportion of them use Internet porn and masturbation as a form of excitement, Lawson said.
“It's a big part of it for the people we see,” she said. “Availability is one of the criteria that makes a fertile ground for addiction to develop.”
Lawson said she has also heard from addicts that even if there are filters and blocks to sexually explicit material, those who are very tech-savvy can get around them to access porn.
Marco Bonanni of Optrics Engineering, a diamond partner of Barracuda Networks, which specializes in e-mail and web security, said workers should be aware everything they're doing is marked and logged — even things they might think are innocent.
“The equipment that most organizations install nowadays have months and months of logged data and information about every single message that goes in and out of the company, or every single URL or website that's been visited,” he said from Edmonton.
What's more, some filters are set or configured to display a message notifying users that a particular website they're trying to visit has been blocked.
“Even though it is blocked, it still logs the fact that they attempted to go to it,” he said.
In most cases, Bonanni said companies are trying to protect themselves against virus infection, but in some instances they're looking for something specifically to prevent abuse.
Amid the vast amount of sexually explicit content available online, one of the world's most famous men's magazines seems to be aiming its target in a slightly different direction with what's being billed as a “safe-for-work website.”
In a brief statement sent to The Canadian Press, Playboy virtually echoed the teaser posted on The Smoking Jacket, saying that the site “brings you everything you love about men's entertainment and the Internet, minus the stuff that'll get you into hot water at the office!” Playboy says the site is scheduled to launch in the coming months.
Fiorella Callocchia, a certified management consultant and president of HR Impact in Mississauga, Ont., said most of her clients have a very strict policy on what can and can't be done on office computers.
“If they want to check their Hotmail, or they want to check their Gmail... or they want to quickly go on eBay or something, there's a little bit of give and take. But in terms of any sites that are questionable, it's an absolute no-no in most companies,” she said.
Callocchia said companies need to be clear about the appropriate use of technology. Workers should find out about policies with respect to use of the Internet and err on the side of caution, she said.
“Don't give the company a reason to fire you. Don't give them a reason not to trust you,” Callocchia said. “If you're serious about keeping your job, you've got your breaks, your lunch, you've got your own BlackBerry. Get an iPhone and do what you want to do on your time.”
Ultimately, Callocchia said companies have the right to monitor the system and do so without their employees' knowledge, as it is their brand and reputation that's at stake.
“When you hurt a company's brand, you're hurting your own employability. You're hurting your own potential security,” she said. “Whether you steal from a company whether it's time or whether it's supplies or whether it's somebody's lunch in the fridge, you're hurting the organization. And it's not just the nameless, faceless few. Other people's jobs are at risk too. And I think we've got to start holding managers accountable for communicating this kind of stuff to people.”
Leahy said responsibility lies with both sides: workers need to be active in seeking help, and companies should be proactive by adding assistance for sex addiction and recovery among things listed as employee benefits.
“We need to be able to go to those employees and say, `Listen, you need help with this. If you do, we'll hold your position, help you get the help you need. But right now, the prevailing winds say `One strike and you're out,“’ he said.
“Organizations are scared to death of sexual harassment lawsuits and hostile workplace environment lawsuits that this kind of unacceptable sexual behaviour in the office can create.”
Firing a worker using online porn who may be grappling with a sexual addiction won't solve the problem but simply result in them popping up somewhere else in the labour supply chain, Leahy said.
“They're going to work for a competitor or a customer or a supplier. They're not going away,” he said.
“And what's really the issue here is we as a society have really created this thing — this compulsive, addictive behaviour because we're creating media and messages that are more sexualized and more compelling. We're trying to draw eyeballs to our computer screens or the TV programs or what have you, and a good ad or a good promotional piece has a lot of alluring sexual content in it.”
“There's a percentage of this population that has not been able to learn how to handle that, and that's where the problems are coming up.”

Facebook use correlates to larger brain regions, study shows!

Biology | 19.10.2011

Facebook use correlates to larger brain regions, study shows


Scientists have found a correlation between parts of the brain related to social perception and a person's number of Facebook friends. The study is part of a set of studies examining how the brain and Internet interact.


In a study involving 125 British university students who were subjected to an MRI brain scan, the ones with more Facebook friends showed that they have a higher volume of brain matter in the amygdala, the right superior temporal sulcus, the left middle temporal gyrus and the right entorhinal cortex. The amygdala is associated with emotion, while the other regions tend to be associated with interpreting body language and social perception.

The British scientists, writing in a study published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, cautioned that Facebook does not necessarily make parts of the brain bigger.

"There had to be a simple relationship between positivity and the number of friends on Facebook," said Ryota Kanai, a researcher at the University College, London, who was the study's lead author. "We expected some sort of relationship, but we were surprised that there was such a strong correlation."

New form of interaction

Kanai also told Deutsche Welle that Facebook and other social networks are inherently different than previous types of interactive websites, as they connect real-life interactions with virtual ones.

"There's something interesting about Facebook, which is that most of the young students know the people that they're connected to," he said. "They use Facebook as a way to maintain contact with people they know in real life. In that sense it's different than old ways of using the Internet."

However, Kanai emphasized that this study merely showed a relationship, and not necessarily a causal one - research does not show, at least for the time being, that having more Facebook friends enhances the size of these sections of the brain.

A hot research area

The relationship between the Internet and the brain has been a growing area of research around the globe.

Work published by a team of Chinese researchers in June 2011 found that "long-term Internet addiction would result in brain structural alterations." Three years ago, an article in the American magazine, The Atlantic, asked: "Is Google making us Stupid?"

Neurologists said they are intrigued by the new findings.

"I think it's very exciting, it's an intriguing observation," said Heidi Johansen-Berg, a reader in clinical neurology at the University of Oxford, who was not part of the study.

However, she also cautioned that this study would need to be expanded beyond Facebook-using university students.

"One way, which is how it's intuitively interpreted is the fact that you have this extensive social network that has altered your brain," she told Deutsche Welle. "Does it reflect your sociability or the fact that you're open to new media? Those are other factors why you behave in that way. Are virtual networks tapping into the same or different brain systems than real-life friends?"

Kanai said his research would continue to work in this direction as the Internet becomes ever-more pervasive in modern society.

"One of the important questions is the causation: we want to know how Facebook, or the Internet in general, has an impact in our brain?" he said. "Ideally we want to track how the brain changes as people use Facebook. We want to find people who haven't used the Internet and give them the Internet and see how the brain changes."

Author: Cyrus Farivar
Editor: Sean Sinico

Monday, October 24, 2011

8 Signs You May Need Help for Problematic Technology Use

8 Signs You May Need Help for Problematic Technology Use

Posted in Gaming

8 Signs you may need Help for Problematic Technology use

Your technology use may be out of balance if:
  1. You'd rather spend time interfacing with technology (e.g., playing games, using the Internet, text messaging, shopping online, or social networking, etc.) rather than pursuing other activities or responsibilities in life.
  2. When you're asked to stop playing or using technology, you are more concerned about letting down your online friends, than letting down those closest to you.
  3. You find creative ways to conceal, lie about, or hide your use from others--like getting up when others have gone to bed so you can continue playing without detection.
  4. Shortly after arising each day, one of the first things you do is get online, start playing, or check your messages.
  5. You engage with technology as a way of avoiding conflict and the negative consequences you might be experiencing as a result of your use.
  6. You previously found video gaming and technology use exciting and fun. Now you continue to play, but it's not as challenging and rewarding as it once was.
  7. People in your life are constantly nagging you about the amount of time you spend gaming, or using the computer, cell phone, or social networking.
  8. Regardless of the consequences, you tell yourself, and others that your use is a "lifestyle" choice.
Most problematic technology users deny their level of use is an issue. In fact, when confronted with the problems associated with excessive use, users continue to play, or engage with technology even in the face of academic dismissal, loss of significant relationships, or lack of employment, for example.
Studies show that between 8-10% of technology users are in need of treatment for problematic use.

It's also likely that most of your friends are gamers, or those closest to you use the computer for school or work. Technology use isn't the problem. Technology devices are simply delivery mechanisms-- like a syringe for heroin addicts. What is the problem, for some people, is the intermittent and reinforcing delivery system which stimulates, and intermittently reinforces brain neurochemistry. This process is highly addictive for certain individuals. Like other addictions, the brain may grow dependent on the dopamine rich and pleasurable activities the Internet has to offer. Real life may seem less rewarding.
Heavy media consumption may interfere with academic, work and family life. It's hard to maintain balance when the brain is focused on the rewarding aspects of technology use at the exclusion of other necessary aspects of life.
If these and other issues have been occurring for 3 months or longer,  it may be more difficult to stop on your own without help. While unplugging for a period of time is always an option, it may be easier to control or moderate your use with support.
If the thought of changing your pattern of use seems daunting, or if you've been experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression unrelated to your use, you may need professional help. Reach out to those closest to you and talk to them about your concerns.  Oftentimes, the people closest to you already know you have a problem with your use and may be willing to assist you in finding ways to balance your technology consumption.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stats and Facts: Cyber-Bullying


11 Facts About Cyber Bullying

  1. Nearly 42% of kids have been bullied online and almost one in four have had it happen more than once.
  2. Among this percentage, being ignored and disrespected were the most common forms of cyber bullying.
  3. Nine out of ten middle school students have had their feelings hurt online.
  4. About 75% have visited a Web site bashing another student.
  5. Four out of ten middle school students have had their password(s) stolen and changed by a bully who then locked them out of their own account or sent communications posing as them.
  6. About 21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mails.
  7. The psychological and emotional outcomes of cyber bullying are similar to real-life bullying outcomes, except for the reality that with cyber bullying there is often no escape. School ends at 3 p.m., while the Internet is available all the time.
  8. The primary cyber bullying location where victimizing occurs, at 56%, is in chat rooms.
  9. Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying.
  10. About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than four out of ten say it has happened more than once.
  11. Cyber bullying has increased in recent years. In a national survey of 10-17 year olds, twice as many children indicated they had been victims and perpetrators.

Stop Cyber Bullying

Know to Love

New York State School Counselor Association

National Crime Prevention Council

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New App To Track Teen Online Activity

New App Allows Parents Detailed View of Their Child’s Sex-Related Facebook Activity

A new computer monitoring tool is allowing parents to view more details than ever when it comes to their children’s Facebook accounts. In some cases, parents are finding shocking sex-related content.
The technology is part of EyeGuardian app, a program developed by ImageVision, based in Texas. One employee shared her story in a local KDAF-TV 33 News report, saying that she was stunned to see her teens’ conversations in detail, especially the ones that revealed what the monitoring system deemed "suspicious."
EyeGuardian can bypass a person’s privacy rules on Facebook and search for sexually themed words, pictures and more, using specialized technology. It can place conversations involving these subjects into a one-page document a parent can view.
An addition to the app will be available soon, allowing parents to receive an alert when something may require attention, straight to a parent’s mobile phone.
The technology may also help alert parents to conversations that involve bullying or sexting, and can also be used by law enforcement to view Facebook conversations. Parents must first log in to EyeGuardian to allow police to access a child’s conversations.
To install EyeGuardian on Facebook, the person holding the account has to give their permission. Developers of EyeGuardian hope the software will not only prevent teens from becoming involved in cybersex activities, but will get parents talking with their children about the dangers of sexting and cybersex.

Talking to Teens About Sexuality from Sexual Recovery Institute

Tips for Encouraging Healthy Views of Human Sexuality

Young adults are reporting having problems with sex, love, and porn addiction in greater numbers than ever before. Though SRI does not treat minors, for the first time we are receiving calls and emails for help and advice from teens as young as 14. We also have noted a marked increase in patients coming to treatment who are 18-25 years old. As many young people still live at home, we are hearing from concerned parents as well. Television shows like Celebrity Sex Rehab on VH-1 and the highly publicized sexual challenges of national figures like Tiger Woods are likely bringing this issue to the attention of a younger generation. While it may be alarming to consider that your child/teen is struggling with problems with porn and sex, they greatly need parental support and acceptance to talk about these issues, be taken seriously and offered treatment, if that type of help is indicated.
While there are myriad factors involved in why young adults are seeking treatment, what differentiates this generation from previous ones is that they were raised entirely in the Digital Age and probably have had greater exposure to pornography (via the Internet) than any other generation. Internet pornography does NOT, in our opinion, constitute a healthy sex education. With the exception of educational websites aimed at teens such as, most of the sexual content your teen and young adult views online doesn’t present a balanced view of human sexuality.
Internet porn presents a view of sexuality stripped of the context of true intimacy, closeness, and the health and well being of oneself and partner. If this is your child’s sole sex education, it will be inaccurate and inadequate. Porn presents fantasy that does not take into account the whole person engaged in these sex acts, their stories, their feelings, their relationships; it encourages the viewer to see the human beings involved as objects. Teenagers, who repeatedly turn to sexual content as a means of self-nurturing, distraction and comfort can become addicted to that behavior – and without intervention, carry the problem into adult life.
Tips for Encouraging Healthy Views of Human Sexuality:
*Talk to your children in age-appropriate ways about sexuality. Avoid being invasive and giving too much detail they are not asking for.
*Refrain from shaming your children when they have questions about sex and relationships. If you are uncomfortable talking about the “birds and the bees” with your kids, give them a book that you have read first that presents accurate information. We like Lynda Maderas’ “What’s Happening to My Body?” series for teens. If you don’t know the answers to their questions, do your own research.
*Model self-esteem, self-respect, and a healthy relationship for your kids. Children learn the most from their primary caregivers; you have more influence than you might thing.
*Install a filter on all computers at home, which will block adult content. Make sure it is password protected.
*If your child has viewed Internet pornography and asks you about it, take the time to talk to them about what they’ve seen and put it into context. Do not shame them for having looked or for their curiosity; next time, they may not come to you for help and advice.
*When your children start dating, encourage them to gradually get to know and trust someone before contemplating being physical with them. Get to know the parents of anyone your child is dating.
*Whatever your religion, morals, or ethics are regarding teen sexuality, teens who don’t have responsible adults to educate them about safer sex and birth control will often just turn to their peers and often be misinformed, or worse, not take any precautions against pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) at all.
If you sense that your teen and young adult is already struggling with sex, porn and relationships, or even asks you for help, it is important to connect them with appropriate treatment (a counselor certified in sex addiction treatment is best, see or for referrals in your area). Because sex addiction is often misunderstood or mysterious, the signs might be overlooked.
Signs Your Teen/Young Adult May Need Evaluation or Treatment:
*A pattern of short, unstable relationships that often overlap (seen more often in girls).
*Falling “in love” often but the relationships last three months or less.
*Complete avoidance of relationships and/or social interaction.
*Refusal to allow a parent to see the history of what has been viewed online or on a smart/cell phone.
*Late nights in front of the computer, or being shut up in a bedroom for many hours at a time.
*Persistent irritability and a tendency to blame others.
*A pattern of dishonesty when confronted about their sexual behavior.
*Over organized bookmarking or filing of pornographic images.
*Avoiding bringing dates or boyfriends/girlfriends home to meet family.
*Shame and anger exhibited when asked about dating life.
*Overly seductive and manipulative behavior.
*Preoccupation with sexual subjects and language.
*Lack of appropriate physical and emotional boundaries.
While some of the examples above can be typical of ‘teen behavior,’ others also apply to a variety of other disorders, including sexual abuse. If three or more of the above are answered in the positive there is likely some cause for concerns. It is essential to calmly and openly talk over your concerns with your teen/young adult and consider a referral to an appropriate therapist for an assessment and evaluation if this remains unresolved.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is Video Gaming Really an Addiction?

Is Video Gaming Really an Addiction?

By , Guide
Updated January 08, 2011
Case For Addiction

Several research studies have been conducted that indicate video game addiction is real in around 10% of gamers who meet criteria for video game addiction. Grüsser et al (2007) found that pathological gamers differed from regular gamers in terms of daily time spent playing, and had higher "expected relief of withdrawal symptoms when gaming," and higher "craving due to the expectation of a positive outcome of gaming." These are all characteristics which mirror those of of substance dependence.
Skoric et al (2009) showed that video game addiction is independent of simply how much time is spent playing, and how engaged children are with the game. In their study, addiction tendencies were negatively related to scholastic performance, while no such relationship was found for either time spent playing games or for video game engagement. A similar pattern of video game addiction being negatively related to scholastic performance was previously found in a separate study by Chiu et al (2004).

Charlton's (2002) factor analysis provided support for computer addiction as a unique concept. This research demonstrated the importance of recognizing the specific characteristics of computer addiction, rather than simply adapting measures of pathological gambling, which are likely to overestimate the occurrence of computer addiction.

Recognition of video game addiction would allow support services to be integrated into community addiction settings, and specific training to be provided to staff. This is particularly important given the high incidence of concurrent disorders among those with video game addiction.
Case Against
Video game playing may have several advantages. Proficiency in video games can develop the self esteem of the player. It can develop eye-hand coordination, and can have other educational features. More sophisticated games can help players to develop other skills, and recent developments have built in aspects of physical exercise -- although this may have limited appeal to gamers.
The reality of popular culture is that we are more and more dependent on technology. A generation ago, computers were complicated and difficult to use, but modern computers are more user-friendly, and are relatively easy and enjoyable for the majority of people to use. Video games allow people to have positive experiences of using computers, that can provide transferable skills for using computers for a variety of purposes.

Bearing in mind the potential positive effects of video game playing, to label the activity an addiction without sufficient evidence and interpretive guidelines about what constitutes addiction (as opposed to benign or positive game playing) could deter many children and their parents who could possibly benefit from video games. This would be a mistake.

There is wide variation in video games, and although some appear to have harmful effects, particularly through the promotion of violence and other anti-social behaviors, this is a function of the content of specific games, rather than a characteristic of video games per se. Video games as a medium have equal potential to develop positive social skills, or to provide benign forms of entertainment -- although these may not be as easily marketable to kids.

As with other addictions, there is a risk that a label like video game addiction could be used too liberally, without paying attention to other concurrent or underlying conditions, such as attentional problems, autism spectrum disorders, depression and anxiety disorders. These conditions have different treatments which might more effectively help the excessive game player.
And video game addiction is vulnerable to the same criticism that all behavioral addictions are -- that addictions are a chemical problem resulting from the intake of addictive substances, not a pattern of behavior.

Where It Stands
The APA is not saying that video game addiction does not exist, nor that it is not addiction, but simply that they are looking at the issue and won't make a decision until the next edition of the DSM comes out in 2013.
In the same release in which they withdrew their recommendation that video game addiction be recognized, the APA expressed serious concern about the consequences of excessive video game playing in children, stating:
"Psychiatrists are concerned about the wellbeing of children who spend so much time with video games that they fail to develop friendships, get appropriate outdoor exercise or suffer in their schoolwork. Certainly a child who spends an excessive amount of time playing video games may be exposed to violence and may be at higher risks for behavioral and other health problems."
Therefore, whether or not video game addiction is acknowledged as a real addiction, or even as a mental health problem in and of itself, the APA is clear that excessive video game playing in children can be unhealthy, and can lead to other problems.
American Psychiatric Association, News Release: Statement of the American Psychiatric Association on "Video Game Addiction". Release No. 07-47. June 21, 2007.
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th Edition – Text Revision), Washington DC, American Psychiatric Association. 1994.
Block, M.D., Jerald J., "Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction." Am J Psychiatry 165:3. 2008.
Charlton, J. P. "A factor-analytic investigation of computer addiction and engagement." British Journal of Psychology 93:329–344. 2002.
Chiu, Ed.D., S., Lee, M.A., J. & Huang, Ph.D., D. "Video Game Addiction in Children and Teenagers in Taiwan." Cyberpsychology & Behavior 7:571-581. 2004.
Entertainment Software Association. "2008 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry." Accessed 10 Feb 2009.
Grüsser, Ph.D, S.M.., Thalemann, Ph.D., R. & Griffiths, Ph.D., M. "Excessive computer game playing: evidence for addiction and aggression?" Cyberpsychology & Behavior 10:290-292. 2007.
Khan, MD, PhD, Mohamed K. “Emotional and Behavioral Effects, Including Addictive Potential, of Video Games.” Report Of The Council On Science And Public Health. CSAPH Report 12-A-07. 2007. Accessed 10 Feb 2009.
Skoric, M., Lay Ching Teo, L. & Lijie Neo, L. "Children and Video Games: Addiction, Engagement, and Scholastic Achievement." CyberPsychology & Behavior. 12:567-572. 2009.
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Internet Addiction Linked to ADHD and Depression in Teens

Risk of Internet Addiction Higher in Teens with ADHD and Depression

By Leslie Davis
Between school, work, home and cell phones, it is hard to escape the Internet. As society becomes more reliant on the World Wide Web, the risk of Internet addiction increases. For one segment of the population, that is especially true.
Children and teens who are diagnosed with one of several emotional and behavioral disorders are more likely than their peers to become addicted to the Internet, according to a recent study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine:
  • Boys diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or hostility are more likely to become addicted to the Internet.
  • Girls diagnosed with depression or social phobia are more likely to develop an addiction to the Internet.
For children and teens with ADHD, the constant stimulation offered by the Internet (including social networking sites that are constantly updated and fast-paced video games) offers the perfect outlet. For those with depression, social phobia or hostility, the Internet has a therapeutic effect, permitting them to create their own online identity without having to function “normally” in the real world.
“If you have a child that is hyperactive, the Internet can move at their pace,” Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California, said in an Oct. 6 HealthDay News article. “If you have a child that is depressed or has social phobia, they can get in touch with other kids dealing with the same kinds of issues. They can go into artificial worlds, like ‘Second Life,’ where they can live out fantasies or take on different personas. For kids who have anger or hostility, the Internet gives them a chance to play out their aggression there.”
Internet Addiction and ADHD

Researchers from the study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine determined that teens with significant ADHD symptoms are at high risk for becoming addicted to the Internet. The researchers say this is because of several factors:
  • Children and teens with ADHD are easily bored and have an aversion to delayed reward.
  • Internet behavior is characterized by rapid response, immediate reward and multiple windows with different activities, reducing feelings of boredom or delayed aversion.
  • While playing online games, striatal dopamine is released, possibly compensating for the dopamine deficit in teens with ADHD.
  • Children with ADHD have abnormal brain activities associated with impaired inhibition. This lack of self-control may make it difficult for them to control their Internet use, making them vulnerable to Internet addiction.
Internet Addiction and Hostility
The study indicated that male teens with significant hostility were more likely to become addicted to the Internet than those teens not characterized as hostile. For teens considered hostile, the Internet allows them to express their hostility and engage in violence through such activities as online gaming.
Because they are able to get out their aggression via the Internet, hostile teens may be more prone to spending more time online than in the real world.
Internet Addiction and Depression

Females with depression were found to have a higher risk of Internet addiction. The study’s researchers determined that this was likely because the Internet can be used to alleviate depression through social support, achievement, the pleasure of control and a virtual world in which to escape from emotional difficulties.However, too much Internet use can worsen the symptoms of depression and make depressed teens particularly vulnerable to developing an Internet addiction.

Internet Addiction and Social Phobia. 

As with depression, females with social phobia are more likely to become addicted to the Internet. Researchers believe this is because the Internet can provide social support in a non-face-to-face setting, allowing teens with social phobia to feel more relaxed and engaged.
The researchers warned, however, that becoming too reliant on the Internet for social support could result in an online addiction.

What Constitutes Internet Addiction?
If your child or teen is excessively using the Internet to the detriment of grades, family relationships and emotional health, an Internet addiction may be to blame. No set definition of Internet addiction exists, but the diagnosis is being considered for inclusion in the 2012 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Any of the following may indicate an Internet addiction:
  • A preoccupation with the Internet
  • Excessive time and effort spent online
  • Falling asleep in school, not keeping up with assignments and worsening grades
  • Lying about computer or Internet use
  • Choosing to use the Internet rather than see friends
  • No longer engaging in social activities
  • An inability to cut back on usage
  • Symptoms of withdrawal (such as irritability, anxiety and boredom) when not online
  • An impairment of decision-making ability
Physical symptoms of an Internet addiction can include headaches, dry eyes, weight loss, neglected personal hygiene and sleep disturbances.

Treatment for Internet Addiction, Underlying Disorders
Previous reports found that anywhere between 1.4 percent and 18 percent of children and teens are addicted to the Internet. Among those teens, a large percentage likely suffers from ADHD, depression, social phobia or hostility.

If you have determined that your child or teen is addicted to the Internet, it is important to get help immediately. Doing so can also help you identify any disorders that are underlying your teen’s addiction, such as ADHD or depression. If necessary, an adolescent residential treatment center can help teens overcome both their addiction and any underlying disorder.
Don’t let the Internet take over your teen’s life. If you are worried that your teen has an Internet addiction, or undiagnosed ADHD, depression, social phobia or hostility, seek treatment today.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How does porn impact boys?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cyber Wellness!

Cyber Wellness...

  • refers to positive well-being of Internet users and a healthy cyber culture for the internet community;
  • involves an understanding of the risks of harmful online behaviour, an awareness of how to product oneself and others from such behaviour;
  • is a recognition of the power of internet to affect oneself and the community-at-large
4 values underpinning the cyberwellness vision are...
  1. Embracing the Net & Inspiring Others - Youths adopt an attitude of using the internet to make a positive difference to others through their online activities
  2. Aututeness - means develpoing in youths a sense of being 'street smart' when using the internet. This includes (i) developing an awareness of the dangers in cyberspace and recognising the different forms of this danger (ii) identifying and protecting youths from harmful and illegal online behaviour
  3. Respect & Responsibility - The respect for (i) Medium - by not abusing the internet for activities such as hacking (ii) Self and others - by not surfing pornographic sites, putting up false rumours, infringing others' privacy and rights, and illegally downloading copyrighted media.
  4. Beyond the Internet - The balance between cyberspace and the physical world. Internet to be used in moderation. If the balance is not achieved, it may lead to:
  • (i) Internet Addiction: Spending too much time online that family and friends are ignored and normal daily tasks are affected.
  • (ii) Addiction to role playing online games: (a) A feeling of an anxiety and discomfort when disconnected from the virtual world (b) Inability to limit gaming activity and to distinguish between the real world and the fantasy world.
Source: The Offline Guide for the Online Generation

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Teen sexting tips

Teen Sexting Tips

These tips are re-posted from our sister site,
“Sexting” usually refers to teens sharing nude photos via cellphone, but it’s happening on other devices and the Web too. The practice can have serious legal and psychological consequences, so – teens and adults – consider these tips!
It’s illegal: Don’t take or send nude or sexually suggestive photos of yourself or anyone else. If you do, even if they’re of you or you pass along someone else’s – you could be charged with producing or distributing child pornography. If you keep them on your phone or computer you could be charged with possession. If they go to someone in another state (and that happens really easily), it’s a federal felony.
Non-legal consequences: Then there’s the emotional (and reputation) damage that can come from having intimate photos of yourself go to a friend who can become an ex-friend and send it to everyone you know. Not only can they be sent around; they can be distributed and archived online for people to search for pretty much forever.
Not just on phones. Sexting can be done on any media-sharing device or technology – including email and the Web. Teens have been convicted for child porn distribution for emailing sexually explicit photos to each other.
Many causes. In some cases, kids are responding to peer pressure in a form of cyberbullying or pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend (they break up, and sometimes those photos get sent around out of revenge). Sometimes it’s impulsive behavior, flirting, or even blackmail. It’s always a bad idea.
Parents: Talk with your kids about sexting in a relaxed setting. Ask them what they know about it (they may not have heard the term, so “naked photo-sharing” works too). Express how you feel in a conversational, non-confrontational way. A two-way dialog can go a long way toward helping your kids understand how to minimize legal, social and reputation risks.
The bottom line: Stay alert when using digital media. People aren’t always who they seem to be, even in real life, and sometimes they change and do mean things. Critical thinking about what we upload as well as download is the best protection.

What to do
We’re not in a position to provide legal advice, but we can tell you that laws vary from state to state, each jurisdiction enforces the law differently, and the applicable laws were written before sexting was “invented.” With sexting, the same minor can be both perpetrator and victim when producing and sending photos of him or herself – a very tricky situation under current laws.
* If your children have sent any nude pictures of themselves, make sure they stop immediately. Explain that they’re at risk of being charged with producing and distributing child pornography. If they’ve received a nude photo, make sure they haven’t sent it to anyone else.
* Either way, the next most important thing is to have a good talk. Stay calm, be supportive and learn as much as you can about the situation. For example, see if it was impulsive behavior, a teen “romance” thing, or a form of harassment.
* Consider talking with other teens and parents involved, based on what you’ve learned.
* Some experts advise that you report the photo to your local police, but consider that, while intending to protect your child, you could incriminate another – and possibly your own child. That’s why it’s usually good to talk to the kids and their parents first. If malice or criminal intent is involved, you may want to consult a lawyer, the police, or other experts on the law in your jurisdiction, but be aware of the possibility that child-pornography charges could be filed against anyone involved.
* If a sexting photo arrives on your phone, first, do not send it to anyone else (that could be considered distribution of child pornography). Second: Talk to a parent or trusted adult. Tell them the full story so they know how to support you. And don’t freak out if that adult decides to talk with the parents of others involved – that could be the best way to keep all of you from getting into serious trouble.
* If the picture is from a friend or someone you know, then someone needs to talk to that friend so he or she knows sexting is against the law. You’re actually doing the friend a big favor because of the serious trouble that can happen if the police get involved.
* If the photos keep coming, you and a parent might have to speak with your friend’s parents, school authorities or the police.
These tips were written in April 2009, after several reported cases of teens being prosecuted for taking, distributing and possessing pictures of themselves or friends. While we are aware that such activity is inappropriate and risky, we do not feel that – in most cases – law enforcement should treat sexting as a criminal act. Except in the rare cases involving malice or criminal intent, law enforcement should play an educational role, along with parents, community leaders, school officials and other caring adults.
If you’d like to print these tips out, here’s a PDF version. Please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it for permission to reprint or post.

Tips for dealing with cyber bullying

Tips to Stop Cyberbullying

Reposted from
Don’t respond. If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants. It gives him or her power over you. Who wants to empower a bully?
Don’t retaliate. Getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bully’s behavior. Help avoid a whole cycle of aggression.
Save the evidence. The only good news about digital bullying is that the harassing messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You need to do this even if it’s minor stuff, in case things escalate.
Talk to a trusted adult. You deserve backup. It’s always good to involve a parent but – if you can’t – a school counselor usually knows how to help. Sometimes both are needed. If you’re really nervous about saying something, see if there’s a way to report the incident anonymously at school.
Block the bully. If the harassment’s coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments, do yourself a favor: Use preferences or privacy tools to block the person. If it’s in chat, leave the “room.”
Be civil. Even if you don’t like someone, it’s a good idea to be decent and not sink to the other person’s level. Also, research shows that gossiping about and trash talking others increases your risk of being bullied. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
Don’t be a bully. How would you feel if someone harassed you? You know the old saying about walking a mile in someone’s shoes; even a few seconds of thinking about how another person might feel can put a big damper on aggression. That’s needed in this world.
Be a friend, not a bystander. Watching or forwarding mean messages empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell bullies to stop or let them know harassment makes people look stupid and mean. It’s time to let bullies know their behavior is unacceptable – cruel abuse of fellow human beings. If you can’t stop the bully, at least try to help the victim and report the behavior.

For more info:* Cyberbullying & Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Aggression, Threats, and Distress, by Nancy Willard
* Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying, by Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin
* Cyber Bullying: A Prevention Curriculum for Grades 3-5 and Cyber Bullying: A Prevention Curriculum for Grades 6-12, by Susan Limber, Robin Kowalski, and Patricia Agatston

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cognitive behavioral factors in PIU (problematic internet use)

Computers in Human Behavior (2002)

Abstract: Scott Caplan

The paper presents results from an exploratory study that: (1) developed a theory-based measure of PIU and (2) administered the instrument to a sample of undergraduate students to assess the associations among PIU and several psychosocial variables including, depression, self-esteem, loneliness, and shyness. A new instrument, the Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale (GPIUS) was designed to operationalize Davis's Computers in Human Behavior, 17 (2001), 187 theoretical construct of generalized PIU. The GPIUS and several measures of psychosocial well-being were administered to 386 undergraduate students. Results from this preliminary study indicate that the GPIUS is both reliable and valid. A factor analysis identified seven unique sub-dimensions of the GPIUS, including: mood alteration, perceived social benefits available online, negative outcomes associated with Internet use, compulsive Internet use, excessive amounts of time spent online, withdrawal symptoms when away from the Internet, and perceived social control available online. All GPIUS subscales were correlated with psychosocial health variables including: depression, loneliness, shyness, and self-esteem. A regression analysis identified several important psychosocial and cognitive-behavioral predictors of negative outcomes associated with generalized PIU. Results also suggest that one's preference for computer-mediated social interaction, as opposed to face-to-face interaction, plays a role in the etiology, development, and outcomes of generalized PIU. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.