Internet Seen as Spawning "Technoautism" and Other Pathologies

The Young Are Most Prone, Say Psychiatrists and Psychologists

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ROME, FEB. 20, 2003 ( Excessive use of Internet can degenerate into unheard-of pathologies, warn Catholic psychiatrists and psychologists.

Children are the most vulnerable to this new form of illness, said conferees at a recent congress organized by the Italian Association of Catholic Psychiatrists and Psychologists (AIPCC).

Their conclusion summarized the results of research on disturbances derived from the abuse of the Internet in 109 children, ranging in age from 6 to 9.

In general, young adults are the most prone to “tech-abuse,” that is, difficulty in relating to real people, according to the study.

Another phenomenon mentioned is “Webcam abuse,” the propensity or even obsession to spy on others through Internet sites for this purpose.

“Technoautism,” or the inability to express one’s emotions without the aid of new technologies, is more frequent among children, the study reveals, reported by the Italian bishops’ SIR agency.

“Fifteen to 20% of the children studied surf regularly on Internet, chat and, above all, seek friendships on the Internet,” the report continues.

“The fact that technology is understood as a way of interacting with others is very worrying,” said Tonino Cantelmi, AIPCC president and coordinator of the research.

Seventy percent of boys spend about two hours daily with Internet video games; 5% spend more than five hours a day.

It is necessary that “parents supervise their children in the use of the new means,” the president of the Italian Parliamentary Commission for Children, Maria Burani Procaccini, said. “If they are left alone, there is a risk that they will be crushed.”

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