[ recycled post - first appeared here.]
A new study conducted by evaluating the questionnaire responses of over 9,000 Taiwanese adolescents has LINKED “Internet addiction” to aggressive behavior.
You can probably guess why I capitalized the word “linked.” A link is not always a causal link. And the last paragraph of the report makes that very point.
Brad Bushman, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, said the study does not allow conclusions about which came first — Internet addiction or aggression. “It could be that using the Internet causes people to behave more aggressively or it could be that aggressive people seek out the Internet,” he said. “Or some other third factor could cause both — people with poor social skills don’t have any friends, so they spend a lot of time on the Internet and can’t resolve conflicts in non-aggressive ways.”
Thank you for including that. But I wonder if the town crier types (those who want to jump to a specific conclusion first, and ask questions later, if they do ask) will read that far into the piece. Or even heed the point.
I also put Internet addiction in quotes because I am unconvinced that what was studied qualifies as true addiction. “Internet obsessed” maybe.
Internet addiction itself remains a controversial topic more than a decade after it was first described. Some mental health specialists refuse to recognize its existence, although a number of rehabilitation centers treat people who say they suffer from it.
If I “refuse to recognize” Internet addiction, am I thus in denial (and perhaps in need of psychoanalysis)? Sure, the behavior of some individuals may truly warrant that designation. But I imagine they are few and far between. Assuming its reality from the answers adolescents give to a questionnaire? I’m skeptical.
How strong was the link? Good question.
Thirteen percent of all female students and 32 percent of all males reported engaging in aggressive behavior — such as threatening or hurting others — within the last year, compared with 37 percent of those suffering from Internet addiction.
Stop the presses! No, not to report something important, but to keep from reporting something that may not be nearly as important as assumed.