Caution: Highway to Addiction                   Stop and look around you right now. I guarantee you right now one or more person is using their phone or laptop to go on the internet. I am also positive if that internet connection went out a look of horror would flash on their faces before a few foul words spew out. The Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years meanwhile, the internet has been around for a little more than 25 years, and it is safe to say the internet is already ruling the world. From shopping, video chatting, reading, living sexual fantasies, video games, and to being a source of almost every entertainment, the internet provides almost everything. So isn’t it safe to say Houston we have a problem? That problem being internet addiction. Stalking, pornography addiction, online gaming addiction, and teens being put into risk have one major thing in common, that being the internet.                   According to Maria Konnikova’s article: Internet Addiction Is a Legitimate Mental Condition, ” Both behavioral and substance addictions are characterized by an inability to control how often or how intensely you engage in an activity, even when you feel the negative consequences” . So what exactly makes an internet addict different from a drug addict? Both are feeling the negative effects of their lives wasting away yet, can’t stop. Both ostracize themselves from family and friends to solely focus on the pleasure of their addiction. Both neglect doing important tasks, and both neglect their bodies by not eating. So where do the similarities draw the line? Is it at the fact that only difference is one is illegal, and the other supposedly isn’t considered an addiction even tho they almost have the same exact effects? The same way we limit a child from the amount of sweets they can have to protect them from hurting their teeth and bodies, the same way we should limit internet usage before it becomes a real hazard. In fact, “A decade of research … had only proven what the 1997 study had suspected, that the Internet could inspire the same patterns of excessive usage, withdrawal, tolerance, and negative repercussions as more traditional substance use” (Konnikova). Despite being more complicated to diagnose because no one really knows what the usage limit is, the internet is a legitimate addiction. A addiction that can not be measured in the same way as alcohol amounts.                Furthermore, a teenager staying cooped up in their room for hours is a common occurrence and not given a second thought. Maybe it’s time to consider how many teenagers stay up in their rooms for hours or even till the wee hours of the morning masturbating. Some say “Internet porn was so addictive and harmful that it was worse than crack cocaine”( Online pornography). I repeat crack cocaine! After all, internet pornography comes in different forms. From videos to books and so forth. Porn can be accessed anytime and be kept in the dark thus, making it even more harmful. Like different ice cream flavors it has a wide variety. Sadly, porn has no limit when it comes to child pornography, rape, or any other fetish a person desires. The options are limitless. “In 2003 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that some 20 percent of all pornography available online was child porn” (Online pornography). This percentage continues to grow despite government laws banning child pornography. The internet is being assessed rapidly worldwide and new porn videos are uploaded constantly that the government can’t keep track of the illegal porn so, the illegal billion dollar industry is growing out of control. No one can stop a pedophiles addiction because of the unlimited access found on the internet . People can’t even protect an innocent child’s mind from pornography. A child could simply be playing a game online and porn pops up. In fact, “Data from 2007 show that 42 percent of teens ages ten-fourteen had viewed pornographic content online; 66 percent of this group said they had not deliberately sought these sites” (Online Pornography). This causes children at a young age to start watching porn and they soon become addicts. The start of their addiction continues on to future generations for, a large amount of teens accidentally first see porn from parents. Some even become pedophiles and more become out of touch from reality on how an actual sexual experience is supposed to happen. This may lead to abusive relationships or even rape to satisfy their fantasies that they have watched on porn sites. The reason it escalates this high is because like a drug, that current level of porn becomes useless to the viewer. It can’t satisfy their needs so they have to go up a higher dosage (Trueman). Viewers come out from watching a simple sex act to rough explicit material that is sometimes illegal. From the article Pornography is Addictive and Damages Relationships, “Some children will actually emulate what they see in pornography and experiment on siblings, relatives and friends” (Trueman). These kids may also grow up to be such major porn addicts that when joining the workforce “some 25 percent of American workers who use the Internet visit porn sites during their shifts” (Online Pornography). They are so addicted they can’t even do their job or form proper relationships. Both are crucial in life so, it’s safe to say we have an internet epidemic happening here and thousands are on the highway to internet addiction that leads to a downward spiral.               Breakups are part of our daily lives. With breakups comes stalking that usually involves the ex and a best friend keeping tabs on the ex lover. With the internet cyberstalking was created. No need to creep behind windows in the middle of the night and risk getting arrested. An no need to physically walk around and burn calories by following someone’s daily moves. With the internet u can secretly follow what a person has been up to on social media without anyone knowing. Girls are the main addicts of social media. Many use this to stalk ex boyfriends, celebrity crushes, or even girls they envy. Hours upon hours are wasted stalking people every day and some have the nerve to say internet addiction is not real. If people stalking exes weren’t creepy enough, how about I mention the pedophiles who use the internet as a tool to prey/stalk young kids and exchange pics of them. Now that is definitely a nightmare and should be a wake up call. The internet can “demonstrate a pedophile’s use of technology to stalk children for sexual purposes, to gain control over the child and his family, to recruit new victims, and to communicate with other pedophiles” (Burgess and Lauter). Pedophiles may participate in inappropriate video calls with minors where photos could be exchange and that can lead to blackmail. An every time they get away with it they continue on to a new target and exchange pics with other creeps. It’s a nonstop cycle and to make it worse, once something is online it’s lost in the web forever.             For some, the solution to internet addiction is policing teenagers online. What has once been “seen as a golden “information superhighway”…may feel more like a minefield—seductive on the surface, but seeded with subterranean hazards” ( Haddock). You know what they say, nothing gold can stay. What was once a sweet put together cookie is starting to crumble. Parents now have to protect children from:Online bullying , with kids taking  harassment from the playground to an                                                             exponentially wider audience.Profiteers who run online pharmacy and    gambling sites—and couldn’t care less about the ages of their customers.Computer addiction, as players of elaborate online games such as World of Warcraft and City of Heroes become hopelessly obsessed. Web sites in which teens reinforce self-destructive behavior—for example, “Friends of Ana” sites advocating anorexia ( Haddock).            Hundreds of addiction come out from the internet. How is anyone supposed to avoid being addicted if they are on it constantly for hours to shop, order food, watch porn, play games, stalk, and much more. Everything you could possibly want to do is at the tip of your fingers and not a care in the world about the consequences. Much more is needed to conquer this addiction.               When the word childhood comes to mind an image of a child playing may come to mind. Kids used to play on the playground but now online gaming is the new thing. The thing is, “online gaming plays an important role on internet addiction…” ( Wei ). Games are a way to have fun and entertain yourself and others. Young children spend the most time playing games online and therefore are affected the most. Internet addiction involving online gaming messes with the development of young children, and most kids who spend tons of time online tend to find it difficult to socialize, are more depressed, and a line of other disorders follow suit. Sadly, “80% of online gamers sacrificed at least one element of their lives, such as sleep, work, education, and socializing with friends, family, and partners, to play online games” (Wei). That large percentage truly shows online gaming is an addiction. The fact that people sacrifice meaningful things such as family and time to seek a small amount of pleasure online is outrageous.                 It’s happening “Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.”” (Carr). Who knew those words could have so much meaning. Those words perfectly describe what is happening to our brains because of the internet and mankind’s addiction to it. We are slowly losing ourselves and what makes us human to the computer. The sad part is we see how our internet addiction is affecting our lives negatively yet do nothing about it. Humans are becoming robots. The only thing that is really left to differentiate humans and a computer is one has a pulse. We are so glued to the internet and have an addiction that it is morphing into our thoughts and well being. We first have to start by recognizing that their is an internet addiction worldwide. Then it has to end by us finding ourselves and staying away from being on the internet constantly. Because in the end, the internet will become our minds and we will be nothing but bodies. Bodies belonging to the internet. Afterall, when it comes down to it, if we don’t stop, the addiction will win. It already is winning. Man has made the internet so now it is our time to fix our mistakes. So now it is the time to conquer it before we are to late and are conquered.

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