Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Push to recognise 'pathological internet misuse' as a mental health disorder

This problem seems to be most pronounced in China, where there are "boot camps" to which children are sent to cure their "addiction". But because of the one-child policy, Chinese children are greatly indulged. So what we are seeing is no deficit in the child but a deficit in childrearing. Children who are not given limits from the beginning will tend to behave in self-indulgent ways

DISTRESSED families are flooding psychiatrists with pleas for help for children hooked on the internet. The condition known as "pathological internet misuse" is growing so rapidly among adolescents and young adults that it could soon be formally recognised as a mental health disorder.

International mental health experts are considering including "video game addiction and internet addiction" in the next edition of globally recognised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders "to encourage further study".

One Sydney mother said her 13-year-old son was so addicted to computer games he had attended school only intermittently over the past two years and violently resisted attempts to remove him from the screen. "He starts punching holes through the walls, throwing things around and threatening you ... all this has to do with the most addictive game, World of Warcraft," she said. [And the fact that he has been atrociously brought up -- "spoilt", to use a common term]

Parents have told of children as young as 10 being found asleep at their home computer when they are due to leave for school because they have been up much of the night playing video games such as Minecraft.

Australian mental health specialists believe formal recognition of internet addiction will put pressure on governments to make more treatment options available.

Sydney psychiatrist Philip Tam believes internet addiction should be classified as a disorder. Dr Tam, a leader in the field, said a website would be launched this week to help carers, families and counsellors "address the growing and complex problem of internet addiction".

The Network for Internet Investigation and Research in Australia will be run by specialists with a "common passion in assessing, treating, researching and educating the public and professionals" about internet addictions. " ... such conditions are complex in nature and often overlap with common mental health disorders," he said.

Jocelyn Brewer, a member of Philip Tam's expert group, said girls also could "become obsessed with Facebook". "There's a massive divide (between teachers and parents) in expertise about kids' use of technology," she said.


The University of Sydney Ranks 18th in the World for Arts and Humanities

As a graduate of the USyd Arts faculty I am rather pleased by this. There are a lot of universities in the world (7,000 in the USA alone by some estimates -- depending on what you call a university)

I thought it was pretty impressive in my day in the late 60s too. The philosophy school was particularly distinguished and I did study philosophy there. John Maze influenced me quite a lot -- as this paper shows

The University of Sydney is ranked 18th in the world in the field of arts and humanities, according to the most recent figures from Times Higher Education.

Three Australian institutions have made the top 20, led by Australian National University in Canberra. Ranked second in Australia is The University of Sydney, which has this year beaten out University of Melbourne, which came in at spot number 19.

The Times Education ranking system claims that their highest consideration factors when comparing universities are the learning environment, research and research influence (citations), innovation and international outlook.

Professor Duncan Ivison, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences says of the achievement "The Times Higher ranking for Arts and Humanities places our Faculty in the top 20 faculties of its kind in the world, which is a remarkable tribute to our staff and the extraordinary work they do as teachers and researchers."

"Although ranking exercises such as this must always be treated with care, over the past five years our Faculty has been consistently ranked in the top 25 faculties across a range of different measures, and that suggests we are clearly on the right track. There is still even more we want to achieve, but I am delighted the University of Sydney is now unquestionably seen to be one of the best places in the world for the humanities."

The University of Sydney overall was placed at number 58, therefore to be ranked 18th in the arts and humanities shows that this area is performing particularly strongly at Sydney.


European culture of entitlement is mercifully absent Down Under

Gerard Henderson

I am currently in Jerusalem, wondering whether I will be able to make it to London later this week. There is a public-sector strike scheduled for Britain tomorrow, which is expected to close schools and hospitals and there is talk of up to 12-hour delays in getting through immigration at Heathrow.

Britain certainly does not have the worst-performing economy in Europe. However, it is likely that there will be another recession in Britain next year - due primarily to the failure of the nations of continental Europe to resolve the problems caused by the euro zone crisis. Right now, Margaret Thatcher's decision not to take Britain into the European single currency in the 1980s looks better by the day.

At a time of economic downturn and rising unemployment, the public-sector unions have taken a decision to strike for better retirement benefits for their members, who already enjoy relatively secure employment.

Many private-sector workers, whose taxes finance public-sector employees, can only dream of the pension entitlements about which the public-sector unions are demonstrating. The culture of entitlement, which has had a devastating effect on the economies of many European nations, remains a fact in Britain.

Writing earlier this month in the London Telegraph about the crisis in Europe, Kevin Rudd asked: "How did Europe get into such a difficult situation?" The Foreign Minister's answer was direct and accurate. Namely "for years now, some European governments have been spending more than they earned and running up unsustainable levels of debt". He argued that "this has been manageable in the past because banks were willing to lend to governments and economic growth had been strong enough to keep the interest bill paid". However, the global financial crisis changed all that.

The concept of governments spending more than they obtain in revenue is common to social democratic and conservative administrations. Yet it is more a phenomenon of social democracy. For example, in Britain today the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and the shadow chancellor of the exchequer, Ed Balls, advocate greater spending and borrowing as the way of resolving current economic difficulties. The Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, with the support of coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, advocates long-running cuts to government spending and a clampdown on schemes and benefits as an entry to lifelong welfare.

It seems that Rudd's position on economics has changed dramatically in recent times. When prime minister in February 2009, he wrote a widely quoted article in The Monthly titled "The Global Financial Crisis". Here Rudd maintained that the economic crisis "is the culmination of a 30-year domination of economic policy by a free-market ideology that has been variously called neo-liberalism, economic liberalism, economic fundamentalism, Thatcherism or the Washington Consensus".

Rudd went on to proclaim "the great neo-liberal experiment of the past 30 years has failed" and to advocate for social democracy. He wrote that "Labor, in the international tradition of social democracy, consistently argues for a central role for government in the regulation of markets and the provision of public goods".

Well, you can't have it both ways. In early 2009, Rudd argued the essential cause of the economic crisis was neo-liberalism, which is sometimes referred to as economic rationalism and is associated with expenditure restraint and debt reduction. In late 2011, Rudd argues that the essential cause of the economic crisis is deficit spending, funded by debt.

Australian politicians and senior bureaucrats cop a lot of criticism. Yet, a brief time in western Europe or the US serves as a reminder of how well Australia has been governed over the past three decades.

In the final years of Malcolm Fraser's government, John Howard commenced the first tentative step towards financial deregulation. The cause of economic reform was embraced by the Hawke and Keating governments between 1983 and 1996 and followed by Howard and Costello until 2007. When the global financial crisis arrived in 2008, the Australian economy was in good shape and Australia was not afflicted by overspending, funded by debt.

During his years as prime minister between December 1949 and January 1966, Robert Menzies was no economic reformer. But in the early 1950s, Menzies and his Coalition colleagues made a conscious decision not to take Australia down the road of from-cradle-to-grave social welfare.

Consequently, Australia never adopted the ethos of entitlement which still affects western Europe and parts of North America. It is this concept which has bankrupted so many governments and which explains the public-sector strikes scheduled for this week in Britain.


Growling grass frog cost $2.6 billion

A SMALL green frog could stop up to 66,000 houses being built and prevent $2.6 billion in development. A draft report on saving the growling grass frog has recommended the State Government declare 4400ha of the city's growth corridor off limits for developers.

Landowners say properties have been made worthless and question whether the frog is endangered.

The draft report calls for 200m no-go zones beside waterways in Melbourne's growth zones where the frogs are found.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said he sympathised with developers, blaming an environmental agreement between the previous government and Canberra, which was adding thousands of dollars to the price of housing blocks.

"I don't know if it is endangered," he said. "All I know is it is a frog that is worth a lot of money in terms of land lots and is holding up a huge amount in our growth corridors and I question the arbitrary nature of some of the distances imposed by the Federal Government."

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said arrangements with the Victorian Government meant developments on Melbourne's fringe no longer needed individual assessments. "If the Victorian Government wishes to throw out the strategic assessment then we can go back to individual project assessments," he said. "This will increase the time it takes for approvals which will drive up the cost of housing."

Urban Development Institute of Australia chief executive Tony De Domenico said the frogs would drive the price of house blocks up by $5000 in some areas.

"We've been frustrated by growling grass frogs, bandicoots, legless lizards, mouthless moths, and the golden sun moth in particular," he said. "Some of these so-called endangered species are so endemic they are found everywhere."


1 comment:

Paul said...

"Dr Tam, a leader in the field, said a website would be launched this week to help carers, families and counsellors "address the growing and complex problem of internet addiction"."

I love this sentence. Oh the irony