The people of Sweden are the "best" in the world at using the Internet. That's according to a five-year study conducted by the World Wide Web Foundation, which recently released its findings.

What does it mean to be "best" at using the Internet? It's an interesting question in light of this summer's warnings from Silicon Valley elites to put down the smartphones and step away from our computers. They worry, as many others (who were largely dismissed as hopelessly out of touch) have worried for years, that they may have created a monster. Turns out they have discovered for themselves that Internet use demands moderation. Among the dangers they've identified are "people's inability to disengage" and the need to "help them slow down and disconnect."

Tech professionals aren't the only ones waking up to the Internet's destructive powers. In the updated edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), to be released next year, an appendix will include a description of "Internet use disorder." Being included in the definitive reference for mental-health professionals often serves as a precursor to eventual listing as an official diagnosable condition, a move the American Psychological Association appears to have been considering since 1996.

The Web Foundation's study measured countries according to their Web accessibility and the percentage of the total population, as well as specific groups, using the Internet. It also considered issues of freedom and government interference as well as how broadly the Internet is used for various purposes. It did not include questions about our mental and emotional health, and what's good for our souls.

Given the consequences we are seeing in U.S. society—which ranked ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.