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Hikikomori and Internet addiction: let us not confuse them!


    ITA | ENG

More and more often, hikikomori gets confused with Internet addiction. I found this error in many articles that have appeared on the web, even prestigious newspapers.

Regarding Japanese hikikomori, it is important to point out that only a minority of them use the internet. As reported by Carla Ricci in "Hikikomori: adolescents in voluntary confinement", only 30%. This figure was later confirmed in this interview of her, released exclusively for us.

And furthermore, using the internet does not necessarily mean developing an addictive relationship with it. Most hikikomori use it as a pastime or as a simple means of escapism.

In some way, the internet represents an advantage for hikikomori, because it allows them to keep in touch (albeit virtually) with other people. In fact, hikikomori who choose not to use the internet live in a state of total isolation.


Why many hikikomori do not use the internet?

By isolating themselves in their own room, hikikomori want to get away from all those dynamics thatrule the social world outside their own house. Therefore, even the use of chat rooms, forums and social networks still represents a contact with the outside world and for many hikikomori this thing causes an enormous difficulty.

In addition, it is important to point out that the hikikomori phenomenon originates completely independently of the development of new technologies. In fact, in the 80's, when the phenomenon exploded in Japan, the computer and the internet were not yet part of our daily lives.


If hikikomori and Internet addiction were the same thing, why would have been necessary to coin a new term?

This is the question I would like to ask all those who unwisely continue to refer to hikikomori as people suffering from Internet Addiction. If that were the case, the term "hikikomori" would be completely redundant and have no reason to exist.
In Italy, due to misinformation, the word "hikikomori" is likely to become a synonym of "Internet addiction",losing in this way its peculiarities as well as its original meaning.


What is the relationship between hikikomori and Internet Addiction?

Hikikomori and Internet addiction are two different things. However, this does not exclude the fact that the two conditions can somehow overlap and foster each other.

It is indeed true that the state of isolation pushes the hikikomori to take refuge in the web and use it as the only means of contact with the outside world. In this case, the use of internet represents a consequence and not a cause of the isolation, though. In fact, even if over time a hikikomori were to become addicted to the internet, this would not mean that his or her isolation originated from that addiction.

On the contrary, when the abuse of the internet is what pushes the individual towards a gradual estrangement from society, then we MUST talk about "internet addiction" and not hikikomori.

The difference is substantial.

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