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frelkins comments on Dunbar's Function - Less Wrong

27 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 31 December 2008 02:26AM

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Comment author: frelkins 01 January 2009 06:31:59PM 2 points [-]

On TV addiction:

"Recent studies have found that 2 to 12 percent of viewers see themselves as addicted to television: they feel unhappy watching as much as they do, yet seem powerless to stop themselves."

-- NY Times

"On average, people have 35 to 40 hours a week of discretionary time and spend about 21 hours near the tube. The [University of Maryland] study found that the happiest people estimated they tuned in to television 18.9 hours a week. For the least happy, it was nearly 25 hours a week.

The study, published in the December issue of the journal Social Indicators Research, is based on the General Social Survey, with public opinion data from nearly 40,000 people ages 18 to 64, as well as time-use diaries that detail how people spend their days.

The study controlled for differences in education, income, age, race, sex and marital status. On average, the down-and-out reported an extra 5.6 hours of tube time a week, compared with their happiest counterparts."

-- WaPo

On Internet addiction:

"In the Stanford study — which Aboujaoude said is the first large-scale, random-sample epidemiological one ever done — the researchers conducted a nationwide household survey and interviewed 2,513 adults. Because no generally accepted screening instrument exists for problematic Internet use, the researchers developed their questions by extrapolating from other compulsive and addictive conditions. The researchers found that 68.9 percent were regular Internet users, which is consistent with previous studies, and that:

° 13.7 percent (more than one out of eight respondents) found it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time. . . .Aboujaoude said he found most concerning the numbers of people who hid their nonessential Internet use or used the Internet to escape a negative mood, much in the same way that alcoholics might. “In a sense, they’re using the Internet to ‘self-medicate,’” he said."

-- Stanford Med School

So let's say maybe 12% for TV and 14% for the net. Close. They seem equally addicting - for the unhappy! - thus I'll say that there is just a certain percentage of people who are unhappy and use either the TV or the net to "self-medicate" their unhappiness. One is not more addictive than the other per se.

However it does seem as if there may be a niche for a cognitive therapeutical practice here!