Twelve years old Rohan Thapa was good in his studies until two to three years back. Thereafter, his studies started taking a downturn in the recent months, giving a cause for concern to his parents.
“Now, the problem is such that he (Rohan) does not even bothers to take out his books from the school bag once he comes home from school and straight away looks for the smart phone,” said Raman Thapa of Satdobato, Rohan’s dad. Rohan studies in grade four.
Worried over his son’s declining interest towards his studies and his detached habit, Raman one day took Rohan to a private hospital for medical examination. The doctor at the private hospital referred him to the Mental Hospital at Lagankhel and Raman brought the child at the mental hospital last week.
Even teachers at Rohan’s school had noticed the change in his behavior, according to Raman. Only when the doctor at the mental hospital examined Rohan he came to know that the change in behavior was due to the internet addiction.
Thapa is but one among the many parents in urban areas of the country including Kathmandu valley who are grappling with this increasing problem of internet addition among their children.
With the expanding internet access, a growing number of school children are knowingly or unknowingly gripped by this menace of internet addition. The children start neglecting their studies, don’t do their home work and also play less. Their only centre of attraction is to get hold of mobile, laptop or computer and dive into the unlimited world of the web.
Many worried parents have been coming to the hospital to see the psychiatrists with the complain that their child has started losing interest in studies, becoming inattentive in school and only spending much time using the internet, the hospital stated.
Chief consultant psychiatrist at the Mental Hospital, Ananta Adhikari, said the number of parents coming to the hospital with the problem of their children’s internet addiction has increased.
According to him, this problem is mostly found in children between 10 to 18 years age. Chief consultant psychiatrist Adhikari said although use of internet is not in itself a problem, its excessive use can cause many mental and physical health problems.
The children addicted to the internet have problems like insomnia, disinterest in studies and lost in oneself, among others problems, according to the hospital.
World’s developed countries have already accepted the internet addiction as a problem or disorder of the current generation. In this era marked by the rapid IT development, more and more people are having access to internet facility.
As Adhikari said, over use of the internet by school students is disconnecting them from the family communications, sending them to the world of isolation. They either do not listen to their seniors or feel irritated to respond to the calls. The situation would worsen if no remedy was sought on time, he asserted. The problem may push the affected into depression and other sorts of mental diseases. This health risk factor should not be overlooked.
Though adults also use the internet a lot, unlike the children they are not so vulnerable to its bad effects and addiction. Overuse is not good for all, but the children are more vulnerable to the internet addiction. Children below 10 years force parents/ guardians to give them internet devices such as I-pad, smart phones. They behave annoyingly and turn impatient if they do not get such devices whenever they want. At times they can be very demanding. Internet addiction can cause memory loss among the children, thus affecting their study and the future as well, psychiatrist Adhikari said.
Internet addiction disorder has not emerged as burgeoning challenge in Nepal as in the developed countries. But with the deepening penetration of internet in the country, the growing number of children coming to hospital lately shows that addiction of the same seems to be hugely increasing among the children. He said, “If we don’t seek to curb the internet addiction on time, the issue could reach a crescendo in future for sure.”
Owing to the growing internet addiction among children, cases of cybercrime involving children were also recorded to have increased lately. The negative influence of internet could also instigate children to use narcotic drugs in future too, he warned.
All the government mental hospitals in the country have been referring to this Hospital as the central hospital for mental healthcare. Although the private hospitals have long begun rendering the mental healthcare services, the number of patients related to mental illness coming to this hospital is growing lately.
The OPD in the hospital receives around 150 patients on average in a day while the 50 beds in the hospital are often occupied, according to him.