Stanford giveth, Stanford taketh away: In 1974, some Stanford professors penned a paper called “A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication,” that played a pivotal role in creating the Internet. Over the past three decades Stanford students and professors have helped push along the whole Interent thing (Yahoo! Google, to name a couple).
So, perhaps it should come as no surprise that some students and faculty at Stanford are now on the vanguard of a new thrust in Internet research: Showing how it can be bad for you. According to a new study by “Stanford Medical School Researchers,” one in eight US residents showed at least one sign of “problematic Internet use.
Most disturbing was the discovery that some people hid their Internet surfing, or went online to cure foul moods in ways that mirrored the way alcoholics use booze, according to the study’s lead author, Elias Aboujaoude….”In a sense, they’re using the Internet to self-medicate,” Aboujaoude said. “And obviously something is wrong when people go out of their way to hide their Internet activity.”
As next month is the period in the U.S. during which TV stations and networks are measured for ratings (Sweeps Month), you can start preparing yourselves for “in-depth” coverage of Internet addiction. I’m guessing there are some Students at the Stanford School of Business working on raising funds for a chain of Internet addiction centers while Stanford law school students are probably looking into potentional class-action suites against Vincent Cerf. (Note to the humor-challenged: That was a joke.)
As for me, I’m Rex Hammock. And I’m addicted to becoming more informed, efficient and productive as possible by organizing much of my life and work with tools my computer and the Internet provide. As for self-medication, I prefer caffine and a 30 minute jog.
As for Stanford researchers, here’s my suggestion: Go outside. The place is beautiful. Maybe go to a football game. Ride a bike into Palo Alto. I think you may be addicted to wearing lab jackets and calling people on the phone to ask about how they use the Internet.
Update: (via Doc Searls, who says he’s “addicted to his house also”) Here’s the press release. Quote: “Aboujaoude stressed that itâ€™s premature to say whether people in the sample actually have a clinical disorder. ‘Weâ€™re not saying this is a diagnosisâ€”we still need to learn a lot more,’ he said. ‘But this study was a necessary first step toward possibly identifying something clinically significant.'”I guess if you’re looking for something clinically significant, you’ll find it.