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Web addicts more prone to commit violence: study

The China Post news staff--Those who suffer Internet addiction are very apt to commit violent assaults, as there are signs showing that the 24-year-old suspected gunman who killed 12 and injured 58 in the recent U.S. cinema massacre is a netaholic, according to Ko Hui-chen, chairperson of the Taiwanese Psychological Association and vice president of Asia University.

Ko noted that the gunman, who opened fire in a packed cinema showing the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises,” called himself the “Joker” in a reference to Batman's comic book nemesis, indicating he seriously mixed the virtual and the real worlds and might have suffered from a personality disorder.

A survey of university students conducted by a research team headed by Ko showed that those with narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder are very likely to suffer Internet addiction disorder.

The survey indicated that 66.7 percent of students with narcissistic personality disorder are netaholics, compared to 62.5 percent for those with antisocial personality disorder and 52.2 percent for those suffering borderline personality disorder.

Ko said that Internet addicts usually show a higher sense of hostility or are apt to think delusively, and thus are likely to develop behavior associated with violent assault, adding that those who use the Internet to forget worries, pursue joys or free themselves from real-world restrictions show a higher possibility of suffering Internet addiction disorder.

Ko's research team has carried out a long-term survey of 3,166 university students, finding that some 10 to 15 percent of the students polled are “addicted” to Internet use.

The survey also indicated that the largest portion of university students used the Internet to get information, and the lowest portion of students just wanted to free themselves from real-world restrictions, according to Ko.

She said that those with narcissistic disorder, antisocial disorder or borderline personality disorder are more eager to realize the dreams that can hardly be done in daily life by assuming the roles of the dream world though online games.

People should learn to curb violent urges, but online games provide too many resources that encourage such subjects, allowing Internet addicts to indulge in such attitudes, which in turn make them confused about the real and virtual worlds, according to Ko.

She said that the best way to prevent young people from becoming Internet addicts is educate them how to normally satisfy their desires in daily life on the one hand, while also classifying online games by content and prohibiting underage children from accessing games involving sex and violence.

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