Friday, November 15, 2013

Controlling Access to the Digital World

Korea, one of the leaders in the internet world, is now experiencing an increase in internet addiction because, some are saying, the necessary preparations were lacking. And the Church has been slow to address the problem and was not even aware of the problem, according to two recent Catholic Times articles. The issue was brought up in a Seoul parish forum that discussed the evangelization of the culture.

All agreed  that internet addiction is hurting society and is a big obstacle to the work of the Church. There are city centers that are working with the problem, but help should also be found in dioceses and parishes, said one of participants at the forum. He recommends, alluding to the statements from the Vatican on Internet ethics, that there should be educational courses available to help students deal with digital  addiction and, for those already addicted, camps and other programs to help them discern the problems that come along with the  digital world.

A professor who has made a study of the subject said that because the digital equipment is becoming more sophisticated, and with smartphones interacting with all kinds of programs, it will make the addiction all that easier. He said there has been a decrease in the numbers of those addicted, but those who are most prone to getting addicted, he said, are getting younger and are the more vulnerable in our society.
A religious sister has written a book Worrying Makes Me Beautiful, which treats some of the problems encountered by the young in our digital world. She reminds her young readers that knowledge is not the same as enlightenment. "When I have the experience of looking into myself and go beyond the worries, I gather the strength to overcome the difficulties of life."  
Afraid of loneliness, and with excessive worry, and by searching for instant happiness with alcohol, music, movies and games, we are missing, she says,  the opportunity to meet with dignity, without the artificial add-ons of material possessions, the world we live in. When we try to rid ourselves of stress by indulging our senses, it is, she says, like eating junk food continually and hoping for health.

The young can easily get addicted to the instant satisfactions they receive in the digital world. Without putting the digital world in its proper place in our lives, one can not hope for happiness,  she says. The only way of overcoming the addiction is living spiritually.

She recommends that the young not listen only to the voices of consolation and healing that come from outside themselves but to listen to their inner voices. She asks them to put aside their smart phones. When we become lost in the digital world, we forget to think about who we are, what we like or dislike, and frequently cease to care about really knowing others, interacting with them without our social masks. The digital world allows us the false comfort of ignoring the spiritual hunger we have inside us.

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