The first step for any addict is admitting that there is a problem. Whether that issue revolves around an inability to say no to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or even shopping, one must first admit that the substance in question is controlling them, not the other way around. And you may be surprised to learn that you have an addiction yourself. According to a survey conducted by SodaHead.com, an internet polling site, more than half of internet users admit that they are, in fact, addicted to their online activities. While this is certainly interesting and it will probably make a few people stop and consider whether they’ve let the internet take over their lives, there are a few problems with quoting such a study.
The results of this survey are suspect for a number of reasons. For starters, the people who responded to the poll are all visitors to the site SodaHead, which means they are all people who are currently using the internet. In order to make the results even remotely useful a control group of non-internet users would have to be polled. I know what you’re thinking – none of those people would be addicted to the internet. But that’s not actually true. Perhaps some of them are recovering internet addicts who have sworn off their drug of choice. Okay, so that’s merely possible if not exactly plausible. The point here is that you can hardly credit a study of internet addicts that pretty much polls only those that use the internet rather than a random sampling of citizens. What if you went into a bar and asked people if they were addicted to alcohol? You wouldn’t get very reliable statistics.
Then there is the issue of the type of people that actually spend time taking internet surveys. Do average internet users succumb to these time-wasters? For the most part, only people that have nothing better to do (or an addiction to the internet) would even take such a poll, which certainly skews the results. In any case, the presentation is sort of a fun poke at internet culture. Respondents were asked to select from the following options: they either had to admit they were addicted to the internet (61% said yes) or say that they could quit anytime they wanted (39% chose this option). I can’t be the only one chuckling as I picture a Matrix-like cable going straight from a computer into the base of an addict’s skull.
Of course, the 13-17 age group had the highest overall number of self-proclaimed internet addicts (73%) while the 55-64 crowd was predictably lower (39%). Interestingly, 64% of women admitted to having an internet addiction, as opposed to only 55% of men. Could this be due to stay-home moms spending their leisure time (ha, ha) tooling around on the web? Perhaps. It doesn’t take a prestigious degree (like an online masters degree in health administration or business management) to figure out that the findings of this survey are little more than fluff. But what is rather funny is that so many people were willing to admit to an internet addiction. It begs the question of whether anonymity played a role in allowing people to admit to their foibles or if it spurred people to lie, falsely claiming addiction. Further, we must ask ourselves if people take pride in the fact that they are addicted to the internet, potentially marking this as the first ever socially-acceptable addiction. Now there’s a question worth pondering.