A top engineering school in India, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai, has pulled the plug on Internet usage between 11 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. at its 13 hostels, claiming that “addiction to surfing, gaming and blogging was affecting students’ performance, making them reclusive and even suicidal.”
IIT-Mumbai has about 5,000 students and is well known for providing talent to global technology firms. Prestige and recognition come with a price, however. The curriculum is grueling and competition is tough.
As a result, depression is a common problem among students with no less than nine students who have committed suicide in the past five years. There have been two suicides and many attempts in the last two years alone. Students [used to] have unlimited free Internet access in their hostel rooms to help them study, though surfing / chatting / downloading music & movies / blogging / gaming are other common uses of the Internet.
Here’s what Prakash Gopalan, dean of student affairs, had to say about the situation, “Now, a student doesn’t even know who lives two doors away from him because he is so busy on the Internet… There has been a decline in academic performance and also participation in sporting, cultural and social activities has gone
What I don’t get is the connection between Internet usage and suicide. Sure, life is much simpler if you can point your finger and say, “X causes Y, so get rid of X.” The Internet is a relative newcomer, so blame it! As is often the case, a square-peg solution is derived to take care of the round-hole problem.
If banning the Internet for half the day fixes the problem of student reclusion and suicide (a problem that existed well before the Internet, by the way), then great, we’ve solved a key social issue not just prevalent in India. Somehow, though, I think the real solution isn’t so simple.