Continuing the debate from last week, we seek answer the question of how to categorize the concept of news addiction with help from experts
Last week on Sept. 26, we looked into news addiction with the article "Are we addicted to news?" and asked several questions:
Could it be that we are addicted to these news sources? Do we feel inadequate, deprived or desperate when we don't read or watch the news? Are we losing track of life while dabbling in the news?
Can we talk about a phenomenon called "news addiction?" If the answer is yes, what are the indicators? What lies behind the phenomenon? And of course what would be its results?
This week we will continue to ponder on these questions and analyze the matter to see whether we can reach a consensus. If we go back to the original question at the start of the article, the answer is no according to one of Turkey's foremost psychologists, Kemal Sayar. When we talked to him on the phone on the matter, he offered his view:
"As a psychologist who has been working on the subject of addiction for quite some time, I think that news addiction is a fictional category. Especially considering that Turkey has an extremely busy news feed and the news themselves are replaced quite rapidly, we cannot say there is a news addiction at work here. This is more of a relevant subject for discussion in countries like Iceland where the news feed is considerably slower. Of course journalists follow news a lot closer than other people due to their profession. If you decide to put journalists at the center of this debate, then you would have made a sampling error."
From what I understand, Dr. Sayar's words mean that even if there is a phenomenon that can be named news addiction, it is far from a universal one. Of course there were other inputs from our different readers who work in the field of psychiatry. Quite a few of them stressed the fact that the media uses the concept called addiction in a very broad context. Another expert who wishes to remain anonymous because of official nature of his or her assignment said this on the subject:
"Addiction as a concept is based on alcohol and illegal substances (drugs or stimuli) use as its core and its description is made in the context of these chemical substances. Another definition would be the chemical addiction. Increasing need for alcohol or substance usage, physical and psychological reactions during deprivation (also called a crisis), using it for longer and in greater quantities than planned, failed efforts to stop using, deterioration in work, school, private and social life because of the alcohol or substance and continued usage despite physical and psychological damage, are the indicators. If some of these are seen in patients, it would lead to the prognosis of addiction.
The concept of non-chemical, or in another words behavioral, addiction, on the other hand, is developed with some of the alcohol or substance addiction criteria in mind. If we are to give some examples, gambling and internet addiction can be counted among behavioral types. The concept of internet addiction first surfaced at the end of 1990s and ever since its first inception, there were quite a number of intensive researches on the subject. As we said above, by adapting the chemical addiction criteria to this problem, excessively straining the mind with internet usage, renewing thoughts to limit internet usage by realizing its immoderate frequency, failing to stop the desire to be online, deterioration in productivity and increasing time periods on the internet have become some of the criteria that would lead to a prognosis of internet addiction. Online games and gambling and so forth are other sub-addictions that should be analyzed under internet addiction.
If we are to look at the debate from this perspective, we can't in good conscience talk about "news addiction" as a concept in an isolated manner. However, if we are to talk about an addiction in this context, as we said before, the need for being online in order to get the news has to become a problem severe enough to be classified as a non-chemical addiction. If that is the case, then we must accept the concept as a subcategory addiction. Also, if we are to claim the validity of the concept, the origins of the problem would most likely coincide with the times where internet usage became commonplace and frequent. After if we are to use the term ‘news addiction' on its own, then we would be debating around when newspapers and television channels were the primary methods of following the news. However, this term entered our lives along with the internet itself.
To summarize, if we are to look at it as a sub-category of internet addiction, and look for similar indicators as to other addictions, when the person can't get online and fails to reach the news, then we can talk about a sub-addiction category called news addiction."
Some of our other readers have expressed their opinion that this should be considered separately depending on the criteria such as age and occupation instead of a general category.
In answer to this, Dr. Sayar said: "While we can't use the word addiction when a journalist spends a couple of hours every day on news websites, when a factory worker or a dentist spends the same amount of time we can talk about news addiction as a sub-type for internet addiction depending on several criteria."
Another one of our readers also stressed that it would be wrong to use internet addiction and technology addiction together and in the same context.
"One of the biggest differences between internet and other technological tools is the fact that the internet has pages that always change while possessing an allure. It is the gateway to a glamorous world with blinking color and countless stimuli, pulling people inside. These are features that can keep people awake and are also the main effects that lead to addiction. Another aspect we should consider about the internet in relation to addiction is that it provides an endless and limitless visual and textual material for every field of interest."
What we can understand from the numerous opinions and comments is that it would be safe to say the debate on the subject matter is still in its adolescence. Nevertheless, considering that it is a stimulating subject and warrants careful consideration, it will be worth keeping the spotlight on it for some time.