Monday, November 28, 2011

Pathological internet and video game misuse

Jack Dikian
November 2011

Video game and internet addiction is becoming an increasingly difficult problem. Parents will tell you that it’s affecting the everyday life and social situations of adolescents and young adults. As well, it can hinder a child's learning skills, cause real life problem solving to become more difficult, and cause a child to spend far less time with family and friends.

More and more families are flooding psychiatrists with pleas for help for children hooked on Video games and the Internet.

The condition, now known as "pathological internet misuse" is growing so rapidly among adolescents and young adults that it could soon be formally recognised as a mental health disorder.

Video game addiction is excessive or compulsive use of internet, computer and video games that interferes with daily life. Instances have been reported in which users play compulsively, isolating themselves from family and friends or from other forms of social contact, and focus almost entirely on in-game achievements rather than other life events.

There is no formal diagnosis of video game addiction in current medical or psychological literature, albeit, Inclusion of it as a psychological disorder has been proposed and rejected for the next version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

In Australia, a website would be launched this week to help carers, families and counsellors address the growing and complex problem of internet and gaming (video) addiction. The Network for Internet Investigation and Research in Australia will be run by specialists with a "common passion in assessing, treating, researching and educating the public and professionals" about internet addictions.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The importance of friendships - people with intellectual disability

Jack Dikian
November 2011

Aristotle in 384 BC talked about friendships and saw a friendship as the most important kind of relationships one can be involved in. A reason - you can choose your friend, unlike family. He goes on to say “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.”

His discussions on friendship reveal his fundamental view of human beings as social beings. Even if a man had everything else wealth, fame, virtue, and so on he still could not lead a happy life without friends. Today, we see friendships providing us with numerous important functions including companionship, stimulation, physical support, ego-support, social comparison and intimacy, and affection. It is, therefore, concerning when we contrast this with findings of studies reporting the degree of contact people with intellectual disability have with friends, and, in some cases family.

A CeDR Research Report (2008) by Eric Emerson and Chris Hatton, which was commissioned by Mencap1 analyzed information available from nationally representative data sources on the life experiences and services used by people with learning disabilities in England.

The report provides analysis on survey results for key factors such as accommodation, employment, education, families, friends, etc. for people with mild/moderate intellectual disability, severe intellectual disability and people with profound and multiple intellectual disability.

The survey collected information on the frequency of contact people had with their families, friends who themselves had intellectual disability and friends who did not have intellectual disability. Because the survey used items from the Millennium Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey14 it was possible to compare results with those of people who do not have an intellectual disability.

The table below shows the frequency of social contacts for people with mild/moderate, severe and profound multiple intellectual disability and people who do not have an intellectual disability.

The table from the original report uses the terminology “learning disability” as used in England.

1. Mencap is the leading voice of learning disability and works with people with a learning disability to change laws, challenge prejudice and support them to live their lives as they choose.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Interactive online tools help teenagers battle depression

Jack Dikian
November 2011

According to new research by the University of Sydney published in the Journal of Technology in Human Services, Interactive online mental health resources combined with traditional counseling help improve the mental wellbeing of teenagers.

The study (a first online mental health resource cross-evaluation in Australia conducted) by Dr Andrew Campbell and Dr Suvena Sethi from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Dr Louise Ellis from the Brain and Mind Research Institute, assessed the effectiveness of online mental health resources including tools used to assist rural and remote young people suffering from mild-to-moderate depression.

The study focused on evaluating current online mental health resources to demonstrate their effectiveness as both stand-alone tools and tools used in conjunction with traditional face-to-face therapy.

According to the researchers online self-help therapy tools as were recommended as best practice in assisting teenagers suffering from mild to moderate depression in comparison to traditional text-based websites. The more interactive, the more adolescents were likely to engage with the resource.

However, while online tools were particularly useful in bridging gaps in the lack of mental health services in rural and remote Australia, the research found that their performance was enhanced when used in conjunction with more traditional offline treatments.