Many youngsters prefer remaining in this realm just to escape reality

A recent news report, of a teenager resorting to the extreme step of ending her life, because her parents refused her permission to access Facebook, saddened me. Was that all the value she attached to life, I pondered. This knee-jerk reaction to the incident prompted this article.

‘Cyber appeal’ or ‘Internet appeal’ as we call it, is consuming the young population like an epidemic. Notwithstanding the merits of the Internet, which brings the globe to our doorstep, the computer-user community is engrossed in it, especially to social networking sites.

Experiencing a high

This is a matter of concern. When the will to stay away from the device is lost, and the individual gets hooked on to it, trouble starts. A feeling of ‘euphoria’ lures him. With a sense of pleasure and security in the comfort zone, he prefers to remain in the virtual realm to escape reality. He burns the midnight oil to keep connected to the face of the unknown, losing sleep and giving his daily routine the go-by. While not at the desktop or laptop, he frets and fumes for fear of missing out on contacts and details, feels restless and wants to return to it at once, come what may. With time, he develops tolerance, rather, he needs more time now to achieve the same level of comfort. Once this is crossed, withdrawal is difficult. He lands in front of the doctor with bizarre symptoms of depression — loss of appetite and sleep, inability to concentrate, rigidity, trembling and the like. Young mothers have come, with worry writ large on their faces, seeking counselling for their wards. There is no guaranteed cure for the hapless youngsters — be they students, teens or young adults — who are on the verge of losing out on their studies or jobs, and at times even taking their own lives.

The problem merits urgent consideration as it mostly affects the young population. We have to wage a war on cyber appeal to restrain youngsters from getting engrossed infinitely, with resultant psychosomatic disorders. Treatment lies in mood elevators to combat depression, psychological counselling, and alleviating general symptoms. Cultivating hobbies also helps improve mental health. Prevention is best, as a cure is uncertain. This can be done through health education and advising youngsters about the pros and cons of the issue, before things get out of hand. It needs the concerted effort of everyone — the medical community, parents, teachers, government, NGOs, and more than any one else, the individual himself.

SOME POINTERS

– Having a sense of well-being while at the computer.

– Unable to stop the activity.

– Craving for more time at the computer.

– Indifference to family members.

– Not socializing; keeping aloof.

– Spending more time with cyber friends rather than real life ones.

– Neglecting daily routine.

– Having problems with studies or job.

– Having withdrawal symptoms on weaning from the computer.

Email: dr.anubala@gmail.com