While I still haven't really formed an educated opinion about online addiction, I know a sad, compelling case when I see it. Brandon Crisp, a 15-year-old from Barrie, Ontario, was found dead as a result of chest injuries sustained when he fell out of a tree.
The reason he was in the tree in the first place was because he ran away after an argument with his parents over what they called his "obsession with an Xbox video game"
In an article in Toronto's Globe and Mail, Crisp's parents describe their son's increasing need to play video games. The teen stated he stayed in better touch with his friends this way (instead of visiting them). Then, he pushed his parents to the limit when he skipped school in order to play. As many parents would do, they responded to his truancy by seemingly removing the problem -- they took his Xbox away. He responded by running away, which resulted in his death.
We desperately need to better understand the levels of need the internet plays in various people's lives. And we need to get a grasp on how to treat dependence on this medium. Clearly, in this case, cold turkey was not the answer and resulted in a tragic ending. But, is this case just a fluke, or should we warn parents NOT to limit gaming time if they fear their children are too wrapped up in it, at the expense of other activities? It's too soon to tell. But, if this case tells us anything, it's to be watchful for dependence on the internet and possibly work on intervening sooner rather than later.