- Fenglin Cao, Linyan Su, TieQiao Liu and Xueping Gao
The use of the Internet has increased considerably over the last few years. Data from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), as of June 30, 2006, showed that 123 million people had gone online, of which 14.9% were teenagers below 18 years old. With this soaring number of Internet users, the problem of Internet addiction has attracted high attention from psychiatrists, educators, and the public. Internet addiction is currently becoming a serious mental health problem among Chinese adolescents. Chou and Hsiao reported that the incidence rate of Internet Addiction among Taiwan college students was 5.9%. Wu and Zhu identified 10.6% of Chinese college students as Internet addiction.
Internet addiction, also described as pathological Internet use, is defined as an individual’s inability to control his or her use of the Internet, which eventually causes psychological, social, school, and/or work difficulties in a person’s life . The description of Internet addiction has been based on the definition for substance dependence or pathological gambling. It shares characteristics like preoccupation, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, and functional impairment ...
Internet addiction appears to be a common disorder that merits inclusion in DSM-V. Conceptually, the diagnosis is a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder that involves online and/or offline computer usage and consists of at least three subtypes: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations, and e-mail/text messaging.
All of the variants share the following four components ...
If you believe what you read, “Internet addiction” is about to make us a nation of derelicts. Men drooling over online pornography, women abandoning their husbands for chat-room lovers and people losing their life savings on gambling Web sites are just a few of the stories peddled in today’s press.
But despite the topic’s prominence, published studies on Internet addiction are scarce. Most are surveys, marred by self-selecting samples and no control groups. The rest are theoretical papers that speculate on the philosophical aspects of Internet addiction but provide no data.
Meanwhile, many psychologists even doubt that addiction is the right term to describe what happens to people when they spend too much time online.
The researchers in this case broke the term down into five specific behaviors:
- Cybersexual addiction
- Cyberrelationship addiction
- Net compulsion
- Information overload
- Interactive gaming compulsion
- Joyce J. Fitzpatrick
ALTHOUGH THE PSYCHIATRIC recognition of computer or Internet addiction is approximately two decades old (Shotton, 1989), controversy surrounding whether or not it is a mental illness may interfere with recognition and treatment. For some time I was convinced that I suffered from the condition myself, experiencing mild anxiety when I was traveling in countries where there was minimal Internet access. Like any good mental health nurse eager to understand myself and, if necessary, “heal myself” to help others, I decided to learn everything I could about the topic.
I was surprised at the attention the issue has received in both the media and the mental health world, both in clinical practice and scientific research. Several countries in Asia, particularly China, South Korea, and Taiwan, have been reported to have the highest incidence of computer or Internet addiction among young people...
An editorial in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry says Internet addiction—including “excessive gaming, sexual pre-occupations and e-mail/text messaging”—is a common compulsive-impulsive disorder that should be added to psychiatry’s official guidebook of mental disorders.
Like other addicts, users experience cravings, urges, withdrawal and tolerance, requiring more and better equipment and software, or more and more hours online, according to Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Dr. Block says people can lose all track of time or neglect “basic drives,” like eating or sleeping. Relapse rates are high, he writes, and some people may need psychoactive medications or hospitalization.
Some have argued that the proliferation of personal computers and the widespread use of the Internet have greatly benefited society. However, a recognized problem occurs as persons spend excessive amounts of time online, which may lead to problems in other areas of their lives. Peer-reviewed articles and articles in the media have shown massively multiplayer online role-playing games to be one area of concern. All health care providers should be aware of how to recognize and treat this potential problem. To date, few randomized controlled trials have been conducted to evaluate treatment for this type of addiction ...
- Maressa Hecht Orzack, Ph.D
Tolerance, withdrawal and compulsive use are requisites for any diagnosis of dependency (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Psychological tolerance is indicated by the need to spend increasing amounts of time on computer activities such as playing games, arranging files or participating in online discussion groups. Even though computer users are aware of problem behavior, they continue to use the computer compulsively. They often blame others for the problem. Withdrawal symptoms are indicated by an increase in irritability and anxiety when a person is unable to access a computer. Even though one investigator (Anderson, 1998) used a three-day abstinence as an indicator of problems, at least one patient has said that it is a matter of only hours before he starts to feel irritable, depressed or anxious ...