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Study Reports that Mexican Youth are Tech Addicts

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January 9, 2013
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State of Mexico Autonomous University (UAEM) Professors Adelaida Rojas García, Alfonso Archundia Mercado and Carolina Serrano Barquín say that “technology addiction” in children should be treated the same as drug addiction.

The three researchers and science professors are the authors of the “Technology Addictions in Youth” study, which reports that Mexican young people are spending increasingly long hours on the Internet and using social media.

They say that this situation is the result of increasing Internet access, particularly among young people, whose teachers and parents purchase Internet services to help students with their homework.

Smartphones encourage addiction to Internet content like videos, social media, blogs, email and instant messenger by making it possible to connect anywhere, anytime without a computer. A recent Google report showed that 29 percent of smartphone users would rather give up their televisions than their smartphones.

To put Internet addiction in perspective, the researchers said that the only difference between a drug addiction and a psychological one is the physical damage drugs cause to the body; the social repercussions are very similar.

“The cell phone is an instrument that defines personal space, identity and prestige in society; more that simply possessing it, the brand or type of cellphone signifies status, behavior and attitude,” the researchers said.

Sleep deprivation, they added, is one of the main consequences of technology addiction. The subjects of the study were often powerless to disconnect, and would stay awake for hours. This is damaging to health, causing fatigue and weakening the immune system.

The researchers believe that intervention programs are needed to help the addicted, and that prevention programs for younger children should be implemented. These programs, they said, will teach children how to use technology well, adding that the objective of their study was to develop parameters for the programs by studying technology addicts.

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