With the kind of Internet services available in the country, for Bhutan to be top Internet addicted country among Southeast Asian nations is amazing.
According to a study conducted by a team of doctors, at least four out of 10 adolescents are addicted to Internet in Bhutan.
What does it mean? About 40 percent of the high school-going adolescents are addicted to Internet in the country.
Internet addiction refers to the compulsive need to spend a lot of time on the Internet, to the point where relationships, work and health could be affected.
Delving deep into the study, we find that 38 percent of Bhutanese suffer from moderate addiction and two percent severe.
These are disturbing findings and we should be worried about the health of our children.
Medical experts say that depression and anxiety are associated with psychological co-morbidities among Internet addicts. And, the studies show that people, in our context, the young Bhutanese, addicted to Internet are depressed and stressed due to excessive Internet use.
Internet is a good thing. In the modern world, Internet is the source of knowledge and learning. What teachers cannot give in the classrooms can be had from the Internet. But goodness is not all that is Internet. There are bad things too that we should be worried about when our children take to the world wide web.
There was a time when Bhutanese parents could watch their children by how much hours they spent on their after-school work. Today, parents leave their children to the mercy of Internet contents while they go about seeking their own small pleasures.
How are our children growing?
Bhutanese are by nature very defensive. We are not the ones who can easily take the blame. Parents say they are doing what is in their capacity to do for their children. Teachers say they give what is best for the children within the confines of the classrooms. The ministry says all is good because there are rules, regulations, and laws to refer to.
The problem seems to be our inability to work together. For instance, why can health ministry not work with education ministry to figure out what could be done to improve the health – mental and physical – of our children who are the guardians of our future?
Our professionals in the civil service and other agencies are not doing enough. And this is not fair for all the recognition we give them.
Who is monitoring what our children are watching on the Internet? Are they getting what they should? More importantly, what kind of citizen are we bringing up?