Internet addiction is an impulse-control problem marked by an inability to inhibit Internet use, which can adversely affect a person’s life, including their health and interpersonal relationships. The prevalence of Internet addiction varies among regions around the world, as shown by data from more than 89,000 individuals in 31 countries analyzed for a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website until January 18, 2015.
In the article “Internet Addiction Prevalence and Quality of (Real) Life: A Meta-Analysis of 31 Nations Across Seven World Regions,” Cecelia Cheng and Angel Yee-lam Li, The University of Hong Kong, present 164 Internet addiction prevalence figures, with an overall global prevalence estimate of 6.0%. Prevalence ranged from a low of 2.6% in Northern and Western Europe to a high of 10.9% in the Middle East. The authors describe factors associated with higher Internet addiction prevalence and how it relates to individuals’ quality of life.
“This study provides initial support for the inverse relationship between quality of life and Internet Addiction (IA). It, however, finds no support for the hypothesis that high Internet accessibility (such as the high penetration rates in northern and western Europe), promote IA,” says Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, California and Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium.
How can governments and health organizations effectively prepare to handle mass casualty disasters? In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and hospitals have plans in place to handle people’s physical health needs, yet the mental health needs of survivors often get too little attention, too late.
At the Virtual Reality Medical Center, which has offices in San Diego and Brussels and has treated more than 1,000 people in 15 years, patients don headsets and sensors and are immersed in a 360-degree, three-dimensional visual and auditory computer simulation of air travel, from packing to security to boarding and taking flight. The software simulates night or day, various weather conditions and turbulence. The immersion is paired with sensors that measure breathing, heart and perspiration rates so patients can learn to recognize and handle symptoms of anxiety. The treatment costs about $2,000 and takes eight to 10 sessions.
Physician Mark Wiederhold, who runs Virtual Reality with his wife, Brenda, says for most people the anxiety will never completely vanish, “but you can learn to cope with it.”