Digital Diseases

Symptoms of the Internet Era

by Gökmen Karadag (Volume editor)
©2019 Edited Collection 234 Pages


Digital development not only marked today's world in terms of technology, but also transformed our social life into different forms, and it has moved our social practices to a different media.With the development of technology, one of the many aspects of the digital representation that penetrates all areas of life is created by new technology's impacts on human health and behavior. Digital technology that penetrates all areas of life has some impacts on human health and behavior. Some of them are due to virtual reality, and some are due to overuse of new media. These include the following diseases such as cyber disease, digital addiction, binge watching, ego surfing, and many more. The book tackles the abovementioned diseases specifically and includes a wide spectrum of both literature reviews and original studies regarding the diseases of the digital era for a better comprehension of today’s world. The studies help to deal with these diseases and develop defense mechanisms against them.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Preface
  • About the editor
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Cybersickness
  • Digital Ecstasy as Escapist Fantasy Field in the Age of Technology
  • Digitally Connected and/or Addicted
  • Digital Game Addiction
  • Binge Watching
  • Online Narcissism
  • Digital Cynicism
  • Effects of Frame Rate in Virtual Reality
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • About the Writers


Digital development not only marked today’s world in terms of technology, but also transformed our social life into completely different forms, and it has moved our social practices to an utterly different media. While some of our practices in social life are moved into “social” media with different forms, how similar the word “social” in this definition to the “social” that we know, and we are used to is heavily discussed. Digital technology has created a digital representation of almost everything that is real, bringing the need for socialization to social media and the need for reality to virtual reality (VR) systems. Even possibility of VR and augmented reality (AR) will nearly become the competitor of tourism that we know is a striking example in terms of the extent of digitalization. Whereas a copy spreads over everywhere and it replaces the real, like Baudrillard pointed out, individuals are exposed to increasingly effect of uncertainty of boundaries between the real and the copy. In this sense, with the dizzier development of technology, one of the many aspects of the digital representation that penetrates all areas of life that is expected to be discovered is created by new technology’s impacts on human health and behavior.

Some of these effects are due to VR, while the others are due to overuse of new media. The most striking example of technology using all the possibilities allowed by digital representation is tremendous improvements on VR applications. In the virtual world, where a techno copy of real environment, surrounding the living space of human is designed, digital representation replaces with real objects and subjects. This technology is regarded as successful as it isolates the individual from real environment and gives the individual the feeling of being in the virtual environment (VE), presented not in the real world. However, while VR applications penetrate more and more areas, and the use of highly practical display types, such as the head mounted display, is increasingly becoming easy to use, it is observed that VR has also triggered serious symptoms and negative effects on human health.

Another problem demonstrating the negative effects of the digital era on human health and behaviors is the excessive use of the new media. Together with the internet access increasingly becoming easy and cheap to use; people, with their smart phones, constantly use the virtual world to look at or watch something at home, work, in the streets, cafés, classes, toilets, in their beds, at dinner, and so on. Users follow the contents of the new media, especially of the social media with an incredible appetite, constantly moving their fingers through their mobile screens. This behavior which has almost turned into an addiction is not limited to mobile screens. Besides, users, as the phrase goes, have surrendered to the deep water of the internet with their laptops or desktops. People now keep their mobile screens or computers open even when they follow the traditional media, and they have adopted a new way of viewing as a reflex that is called multi-screen. Naturally, this excessive use causes some negative physical, social, and psychological results. These results have recently been dealt with under several terms, such as technology addiction, internet addiction, game addiction, digital diseases, digital behavior disorders, pathological use of the internet; and the number of those denominations for the digital era diseases are getting more and more day by day. At this point, it should be stated that even World Health Organization has classified excessive gaming as a health problem, that is to say, as a sickness.

The book tackles the abovementioned diseases, which the ones who live the digital representation of the reality, but not the reality itself have got. They are including, but not limited to the following: “cybersickness” resulted from exposure to the VEs, “digital ecstasy for the ones who have isolated themselves from the real life and lost themselves in cyber spaces and fantasies, “digital addiction for the ones having crossed the thin line between connectedness and addiction, “digital game addiction that is significantly dangerous especially for our children, “binge watching” that reminds us of the famous Turkish poet Tevrik Fikret’s well-known saying, which is “Eat, gentlemen eat; eat till you feel replete; eat till it makes you gag!” even though it was said for a different context; “ego surfing” which can be interpreted as the narcissism in the digital era, “digital cynicism which makes us say that “Could some awkward people possibly be the modern representations of Diogenes?”, and the effects of frame rate change on the user experience in VR… In this wide spectrum, both literature reviews and original studies regarding the diseases of the digital era are included in this book.

The first disease to be touched upon in the book is cybersickness. Complaints such as headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sweating, drowsiness, eyestrain, blurred vision, and vertigo are the typical signs of motion sickness, which has a long history and different theories of its causes. However, all these complaints resulting from what people have been through in psychical realities have now turned into the problems they experience in simulators and VR as a result of the technological development. The studies on the health-related effects of VR applications that have become widespread in ranging from education to medicine, from industry to scientific researches, and from entertaining market to video game market are gradually increasing. The reason of this increase is that the abovementioned issue constitutes one of the most significant health and security problems that could affect the development of VR technology. As of the early 1990s, the reports documenting the psychophysiological effects and aftereffects of being in VEs, that is to say, cybersickness, have started to emerge. The ones who have developed the VE technology refer to a big research pool consisting of a lot of studies that have been conducted on “human factor in VEs” for years to get the information they need to understand which kinds of technical and design changes are required to satisfy users’ needs without exposing them to negative effects. In this frame, there is a contribution to those studies by And Algül, Deniz Yengin, Gökmen H. Karadağ, Ayten Övür and Tamer Bayrak conducted in Istanbul Aydin University VR Laboratory. The aim of that study is, in accordance with uses and effects approach, to determine the negative effects resulted from the VR experience on the users, and to find out the factors related with those effects.

Ayten Övür, in her chapter entitled “Digital Ecstasy as Escapist Fantasy Field in the Age of Technology, illuminates the digital ecstasy experienced by the human communities that have lost their interest and perception for the outside world, that have isolated themselves from the real life like sleepwalkers, and as a result, have dived into virtual lives and fantasies. Digital ecstasy refers to the condition of being ecstatic and numbed under the effects of simulations and fantasies emerged by developed technologies. Even though the reasons of digital ecstasy might show similarities with the effects of alcohol, drunkenness caused by alcohol gives one a sort of relieving feeling that might make one forget some desires. However, in digital ecstasy, forgetting of those desires cannot be mentioned; on the contrary, materializing them even virtually and achieving satisfaction is important. Ayten Övür, from the perspective of uses and gratifications approach, examines our relationship with social media that was initially used as a leisure time activity and to erase our boredom, but has gradually turned into a sort of duty that requires us to study hard and to overexert for it.

In their chapter called “Digitally Connected and/or Addicted”, Deniz Yengin and Berkan Bayındır question the difference between being connected and addicted in a world where over half of the world with the population of 7.6 billion use the internet; and more than half of 5 billion mobile users access to the internet via their smart phones; last but not the least nearly 360 thousand tweets are tweeted in 1 minute. Addiction is generally associated with uses and gratifications theory in communication studies. Media use gives individuals a chance to escape from the anxiety in the society they live in. The internet as a way of escaping from loneliness has reached a process during which it is firstly turned into a dependency, and gradually into an addiction. Yengin and Bayındır first give a summary of the literature on dependency and addiction, then assess the results of several studies conducted on the signs of addiction, and finally, enhance the terms “nomophobia”and “netlessphobia”, which is the fear of lack of mobile phones and of the internet, respectively. Internet-addicted digital immigrants and natives generally demonstrate some characteristics like an intense interest in the internet, anxious behaviors in the environments without the internet, alienation from responsibilities, and exceeding of the duration of use. The situation has now reached to such a serious level that rehabilitation centers have been established in a number of countries. It can be clearly seen that human-made technology has turned humans into mechanical slaves who need treatment.

Didem Ataman Yengin, in her chapter entitled “Digital Game Addiction, notes digital game addiction as a danger threatening our future, i.e., our children. Parents who cannot take their children to open-air and lead them to play outside because of the insufficient playgrounds as a result of unplanned urbanization, and because of increasing security issues reluctantly and desperately let their children spend time and play games online. However, those games are not innocent. Most parents state that their children cheer up during playtime; feel sad and start to cry when they lose the game; experience cramps out of excitement and adrenalin in their bodies; adopt highly serious manners, and “pretend” isolating themselves from the world outside during playtime. The most significant sociological problem is that children do not go out, talk to anyone, and engage in any communication even with their relatives living in the same house because they get the illusion that they have already been socialized in cyberspaces; also it harms the notion of family which is the cornerstone of society. One of the most significant psychological problems is that children who stick themselves on computer monitors in a room gradually become isolated, alienated, and adopt an excessive ambition and violence tendency, and demonstrate emotional insufficiencies, as well as the sense of incapability in parallel with the loss of success in real life. In this study, Didem Ataman Yengin assesses digital game addiction in the light of the responses to the questions addressed to 350 students consisting of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades in some primary schools in Istanbul who play a game called ROBLOX and 245 family members.

Nur Emine Koç, in her chapter titled “Binge Watching”, points out another danger waiting us together with the development of technology, which is “binge watching”, used to refer to watching episodes of series one after another. Koç, with the purpose of revealing the underlying reasons of binge watching and the effects of it on watchers, has examined why the watchers prefer to watch the digital platform series they actively watch, which series are preferred by the watchers displaying binge watching behavior, and what are the permanent effects of that binge watching on those watchers. Addictive digital platform series whose numbers are gradually increasing isolate watchers from the real life, sometimes taking the whole day of the watchers. Binge watching, which could cause several health problems, such as heart disease, blood pressure disorders, obesity, and cancer as a result of excessive immobility has now become an issue in Turkey too. Considering the proliferation of digital platforms and the habits of the internet use, especially of the young population, it has been determined that the series and movies market will mostly maintain its existence on digital platforms, and that binge watching behavior will become widespread. On such a significant issue, Koç has conducted a focus group study through the individuals who watch the series on Netflix, Puhu TV, BluTV and dizimag5.co, which is a foreign series digital platform, and reached some striking results.

Özge Topçu, in her chapter called “Online Narcissism”, tackles ego surfing. As known, one of the terms that have become popular together with the proliferation of the internet use is the internet surfing. However, now that what is being searched on the internet has become the individual himself or herself, another problem called ego surfing comes into existence. Ego surfing is described as the behavior in which some of the people who are fond of technology constantly search for their own names on the internet and follow the updates regarding their lives, feel happy when they find any information or like for them, but discomfort otherwise. This study concentrates on the definition of online narcissism, how it has emerged, and how it can be dealt with. With a survey of 20 questions, it has been aimed to determine the users’ internet addiction, their perception for the extent to which they are narcissist, and how often they search for their names.

Hakan Tan, in his chapter entitled “Digital Cynicism”, questions whether cynicism is also observed in digital space or not, based on behaviors and discourses of the individuals (actors) on some social media platforms they deal with. Does digital cynicism exist? Is digital cynicism a disorder that needs to be treated? What is normal, and what is abnormal? Is cynicism a dangerous philosophy for the society, or is it possible for it to have a positive function of stimulus for the society? Tan, in his study embracing these critical questions with nuances, discusses whether cynically fundamental behaviors and discourses are observed on some social media samples or not. Tan questions whether cynicism, a highly special term in terms of its philosophical history, is experienced as digital cynicism today. In this study, some samples that display cynical behaviors without possibly not acting with the awareness of cynicism, i.e., unconsciously display them are interpreted.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2020 (March)
New media Social media Virtual reality Cybersickness Technology addiction Digital ecstasy
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 234 pp., 1 fig. col., 32 fig. b/w, 30 tables.

Biographical notes

Gökmen Karadag (Volume editor)

Gökmen H. Karadağ received his bachelor’s degree from Boğaziçi University, Industrial Engineering Department. He got his master’s and and doctorate degrees from Institute of Social Sciences, Marmara University, focusing on TV News Programming and European Communication Policies, respectively. He is a member of research team of Virtual Reality Laboratory at İstanbul Aydın University.


Title: Digital Diseases