Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cyber-addiction growing problem for US online community

Spending too much time on the Internet: bad habit or something more serious?

A team of researchers at California's prestigious Stanford University has found that for one in eight Americans, excessive Internet use is a growing problem.

Close to 14 percent of US Internet users have shown signs of cyber-dependence according to the study, which involved 2,513 people across 50 states and is believed to be the first large-scale look at the effects of prolonged websurfing.

Of those surveyed, 68.9 percent described themselves as regular Internet users. Just under six percent felt their relationships suffered as a result of spending too much time on line, while nearly 14 percent found it hard to stay from the Internet for several days at a time.

Around 8.7 percent of respondents attempted to conceal non-essential Internet use while 3.7 percent felt preoccupied by the Internet when offline.

Just over nine percent used the Internet as a way to escape problems; 12.4 percent went online longer than intended very often.

"We have been seeing in our clinics for the last three or four years people who come in saying that the Internet has really started to affect them in a negative way," Dr Elias Aboujaoude, an assistant professor in Stanford's psychiatry and behavioral sciences department told AFP.

"They have been fired from work because of excessive Internet use, their spouses have threatened to divorce.

"First, they try to justify it. But then something major happens that makes them realize what is the situation. Being disciplined at work or being fired at work, or their wife or husband warning to leave makes them really realize that seemingly innocent behaviour leads them to a lot of problems."

The sites that often cause problems are not nececessarily the most obvious. While online gambling and pornographic sites are now hugely popular, Aboujaoude warned that cyber-dependency could come from something as simple as checking emails every five minutes, updating blogs, or logging onto financial pages to check fluctuating share prices.

Cyber-dependency, which has been the subject of little study until recently, is not yet classified as a fully-fledged illness, Aboujaoude said.

"What we can say for sure is that for a significant portion of the population, there are some red flags that indicate a real problem," he said. "It takes more steps to say that there is something called Internet addiction."

More commonly, lonely hours spent on the Internet were an indication of an existing behavioural disorder.

"Somebody is going online because he has social anxiety, and has a lot of difficulties interacting with people face to face, and spends hours online," Aboujaoude said.

"The same is for the person who is depressed and finds it too overwhelming to leave the house, so all he does is to stay indoors and play Internet games."

The possibility of being able to recreating your persona in virtual online communities could also lead to problems.

"Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between your virtual life and real life. It can be a slippery slope for people using these sites," Aboujaoude added.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

RP ranks poorly in ICT index

By Ma. Elisa P. Osorio
The Philippine Star

There are still a lot of Filipinos who have no access to computers and the Internet, according to data released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) based on an international study.

Out of 65 Asian countries studied, the Philippines ranked a poor 51 in terms of the e-Readiness index. This dismal ranking is a result of the low connectivity in terms of broadband and wireless Internet penetration. Also, most of Filipinos are still unable to have access to personal computers.

The Philippines ranked in the middle of most of the ICT indices. Under the e-government category, the country was ranked 41 out of the 191 countries studied, 70 out of 115 in network readiness, 97 out of 180 in ICT diffusion and 94 out of 180 in digital opportunity.

"Generally, the ICT scenario in the country was better than the situation in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao P.D.R., Myanmar and Vietmam," the study said. However the country lagged behind Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei Darussalam.

In addition to this, the study said businesses are still resisting technology. "The slow adoption of e-business practices among consumers and businesses contributed to its poor ranking," the study stated.

The study, conducted by global technology policy and management consulting firm McConnell International, said electronic preparedness measures a nation’s capacity to participate in the digital economy.

It likewise said electronic preparedness is a source of economic growth in the era of interconnectedness and the requisite to carry out successful electronic business.

As a result, it would be difficult for any business or a country to grow substantially if the main electronic pillars are not in place. The firm said countries who have only taken a first step denotes complacency which has an adverse effect to future development.

On the other hand, an e-ready society is one that has the necessary physical infrastructure (high bandwidth, reliability, and affordable prices), integrated current information and communication technology (ICTs) throughout businesses (e-commerce, local ICT sector), communities (local content, organizations online, ICTs used in everyday life, ICTs taught in schools), and the government (e-government).

Meanwhile, the country performed relatively well in terms of the quality of infrastructure, openness to trade and investment, vision regarding digital-age advances and high educational level.