Masthead CMC Magazine / February 1, 1996
  I'm Online, You're Online, by Steve Jones

The Nature of the Online Danger

We need to ask about the nature of socialization and human interaction. We also need to discuss whether human interaction is a by-product of other activities (like shopping, walking, etc.) or whether it is an activity unto itself that we value, and if we value it, what the risks and the rewards are? If it is a by-product of other things we do, I'd say, "Why worry?" If it is of value to us, then it is time that we not only set aside time for ourselves, as we are often told to do, but set aside time for ourselves with others.

And, if we do value human interaction, we should think about the nature of dependency and that of addiction in relation to any so-called "Internet addiction." It is often the case that social workers, psychiatrists, counselors, and others in the mental health field attempt to assess whether an individual's socialization is impaired due to participation in an activity, and, if it is, to label that activity as potentially an addiction or dependency. Print media too, particularly books, are occasionally cause for concern to some parents who find their children spending more time reading than playing with other children, therefore they are not socializing--or becoming socialized. Thus if an activity impairs socialization, it can be labeled harmful--but is it addictive? Is it a dependency? The "Bible" of the mental health profession, the Diagnostic Services Manual (4th ed.), does not include reference to media addiction or dependency of any kind. And who is to say what forms of --socialization are best?

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