August 23rd marked the 25th anniversary of the launch of the World Wide Web. Much has changed in that time, including how much of the day humans spend with screens, the internet and technology.
Sister Marysia Weber, the director of the Office of Consecrated Life with the Archdiocese of St. Louis and clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry with Washington University, said that she’s seen a big difference in patients with behaviors that she did not anticipate.
“There’s now an addiction that didn’t exist in teenagers, an addiction in adults to online gaming and, sometimes, internet pornography,” Weber said. “As psychiatrists, we did not think in terms of addiction being triggered by something brought into the eyes. At first, we thought it was things you’d intake, like alcohol. Also, learning styles and interpersonal dynamics changed. Even the focus on how children look.”
Some don’t label the use and overuse of the internet as an addiction, but Weber said that label is being used in other parts of the world outside of the United States.
Weber said children are not learning turn-taking, conversational skills and they’re less attentive to eye contact, tone of voice and body posture. This has affected human interaction skills.
Listen to Weber as she describes what she’s learned over the past two decades studying the internet and psychology:
“We are at risk of making the internet a connection of wires and not of people,” Weber said.
Weber is hosting an educational series for parents, teachers and kids about the internet and technology. The next workshop is Sept. 17. You may find more information here.
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