QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 83 - Page 11

‘iDependence’: Crowdfunding to Create a Film About Internet Addiction A GROUP OF YOUNG artists and scientists joined forces to tackle the escalating problem of Internet addiction by creating a powerful new film. Lethally Harmless Productions (LHP), a non-profit collective of artists and scientists, launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund the completion of ‘iDependence’ – the first documentary film of its kind about Internet Addiction Disorder. Operating out of QMU’s Business Innovation Zone, Lethally Harmless Productions created a dramatic trailer which highlights the serious issue of Internet addiction. The film content draws on extensive research which the project team conducted throughout Europe over a two year period. The collective, founded by university graduates from Poland, Portugal and Greece, visited schools and cutting- edge research institutions to gain a thorough understanding of the effects of Internet addiction on children, adolescents and adults around the world. The documentary aims to raise awareness of the personal and social implications of Internet addiction, which has shared similarities with alcoholism, drug and sex addiction. Michal Korzonek, who is a QMU film and media graduate, is Co-founder of Lethally Harmless Productions and Director of ‘iDependence’. He stated: “‘iDependence’ includes interviews with renowned academics, teachers and professionals from research institutions and schools from all around Europe. It exposes Internet addiction in detail and gives practical advice on how to diagnose and treat the disorder. Importantly, the film provides parents, teachers and anyone interested in internet use with the tools to help them use new technologies in a healthy and beneficial way.” According to the latest research, 13% of young Europeans are at risk of Internet addictive behaviours. In the USA, it’s 10% of the population and in China and South Korea it is thought to be between 18 – 30%. Sílvia Bastos from Lethally Harmless Productions, explained: “How many times do you check your social media account during the day, just because your mobile phone is close by? How often do you get distracted by a bleep alert and lose focus on a face-to-face conversation with a friend or work colleague? This type of obsessive behaviour affects and impacts on our ability to live in the moment and concentrate on nurturing our relationships with people.” “Internet addiction stands out due to the negative impact it may inflict on millions in the future”, warned Dr Fotios Spyropoulos from the Hellenic Association for the Study of the Internet Addiction Disorder (HASIAD). Dr Konstantinos Siomos, President of HASIAD pointed out: “As the amount of time people spend online increases, other activities such as interaction with friends are abandoned. Sleeping decreases dramatically, there is school failure and bad communication in the family.” However, ‘iDependence’ does not merely focus on reporting the misuse of the internet - it focuses on ways to reach its optimal use. Internet addiction is a complex issue that affects society on a global scale, so there is no quick fix. By carrying out this extensive research, the project team hopes the film can help society adopt ways of ‘using’ the Internet, but not being ‘used’ by it. “Technology is a very big part of the everyday lives of children and adolescents”, said Dr Artemis Tsitsika, Head of the Adolescent Health Unit, University of Athens. “If you use it for educational reasons or within schools it might be a protective factor against high risk behaviour on the Internet.” Lethally Harmless Productions aims to raise £10,101 during its crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs required to complete the film. Everything above the target sum will be used to distribute the documentary, which will be supported by training sessions and presentations to schools, institutions, workplaces, film festivals and conferences worldwide. It is hoped that this will help stimulate global debate on the healthy use of the Internet. Professor Alan Gilloran, Deputy Principal of Queen Margaret University, said: “From our inception, QMU has responded to some of the most pressing issues that affect our society. I am proud that ‘Lethally Harmless Productions’ is ambitious in its determination to deal with a serious issue, such as Internet addiction, which affects societies on a global scale.” Dr Vasileios Vlaseros from Lethally Harmless Productions, is also Director of the Athens Behavioural and Experimental Economics and Social Sciences Laboratory of the University of Athens. He concluded: “Internet Addiction has not received the attention it demands mainly due to the unincentivised reluctance of mass media and social networking platforms to help raise such an issue. Breaking this vicious circle and contributing to the campaign in any way possible will help us help others with iDependence.” ❒ QMYOU / Creativity & Culture 11