Should the net be regulated like drugs or casinos?


Excerpt from this article:

Psychologists have been discussing the possibility of internet addiction since 1996, just three years after the release of the first mainstream web browser. But there’s no consensus about how to diagnose internet addiction, or whether it’s even a real thing. Estimates of its prevalence vary wildly. Unlike heroin, the internet doesn’t kill people, and has obvious utility. Plus, it can be difficult to disentangle the medium (the internet) from the addictive experience (pornography, for example, or online gambling).

In any case, these diagnostic categories tend toward extremes. They don’t seem to encompass the full range of experiences on display when people joke about crackberries, or talk about getting sucked into Tumblr and Facebook.

Yet, for millions of people, the internet is often understood in terms of compulsion. Critics blame the internet itself for this state of affairs, or they blame individual users. Neither makes much sense. The internet is not a predetermined experience. It’s a system of connections and protocols. There’s nothing about a global computer network that necessitates addiction-like behaviours.

So should individuals be blamed for having poor self-control? To a point, yes. Personal responsibility matters. But it’s important to realise that many websites and other digital tools have been engineered specifically to elicit compulsive behaviour.