When the Minister of Japanese Culture calls you, what do you do? If you are Dr. Kimberly Young, you take the call, just like every other call, and help the person on the other line about Internet/social media addiction.
Young, a resident of Bradford, has been a pioneer and expert in the field of Internet/social media addiction for the past 20 years.
“It started when my friend called seeking help about her husband. He was spending a lot of time in AOL chat rooms,” Young said. Seems innocuous enough, but this was back when visitors spent time in a “virtual” chat room and were charged by the minute.
So Young started studying Internet addiction and led the charge in getting the word out that this addiction does exist and it was hurting families.
Now with a change in technology like unlimited data on cell phones, it may not appear as obvious there is a problem, but Young assures us there still is — and it is right at our fingertips.
“Families and couples go out to dinner and they each have their cell phone,” Young said. “They are more interested in interaction with social media than each other.”
Young’s research has all but Bradford on the map — literally. Under Young’s guidance, Bradford Regional Medical Center is the first inpatient treatment facility for this addiction. Young fields calls from all over the world from reporters and people seeking help. And they can’t get a grasp out of exactly where Bradford, Pa., is.
That is just one thing Young likes about living in Bradford. She can be herself, yet when she is doing a presentation, she is the quintessential expert and people turn to her for help.
While the caller may be scratching his head, not knowing exactly where he called — he knows who he called.
Generally, Young suggests taking a proactive approach to dealing with this addiction.
“Limit the use; go on a digital diet,” she said. And some of what she offers is also good parental advice.
“I have had mothers call and say their daughter has been in accidents due to texting while driving. Well, take the phone away. Be the parent.”
In Korea, they have instituted Internet addition prevention screenings given to children by the age of 10.
It has become a social problem, too. It may be termed “social media” but it is very isolating, Young said, reiterating that younger people are not able to engage in life not in front of the screen and some can’t even read a real book.
“We need to find a balance,” she said. “It has become so problematic so quickly it is actually scary.”
But it may not be as easy as it sounds as new and more impressive devices are coming out everyday — eventually leading to wearables — watch-like devices that enable you to be on the Web
“The technology grew overnight,” she said, adding the first iPad just came out five years ago. “We need to get caught up to it.”
Even how Young dispenses her advice has changed. Twenty years ago, she penned a book “Caught in the Web” about Internet addiction. Earlier this year, she took part in a TEDx presentation, short for Technology, Education and Design. This allows a platform for people to share ideas. These presentations are videotaped and put on YouTube. The one she did in January has already had more than 1,500 “hits.”
You can see her presentation by going to Young’s website at Netaddiction.com.