Internet addiction

Internet addiction

What is Internet addiction?

Internet addiction is described as an impulse control disorder, which does not involve use of an intoxicating drug and is very similar to pathological gambling. Some Internet users may develop an emotional attachment to on-line friends and activities they create on their computer screens. Internet users may enjoy aspects of the Internet that allow them to meet, socialize, and exchange ideas through the use of chat rooms, social networking websites, or "virtual communities." Other Internet users spend endless hours researching topics of interest Online or "blogging". Blogging is a contraction of the term "Web log", in which an individual will post commentaries and keep regular chronicle of events. It can be viewed as journaling and the entries are primarily textual.

Similar to other addictions, those suffering from Internet addiction use the virtual fantasy world to connect with real people through the Internet, as a substitution for real-life human connection, which they are unable to achieve normally.

What are the warning signs of Internet addiction?

  • Preoccupation with the Internet. (Thoughts about previous on-line activity or anticipation of the next on-line session.)
  • Use of the Internet in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction.
  • Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop Internet use.
  • Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the Internet.
  • On-line longer than originally intended.
  • Jeopardized or risked loss of significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunities because of Internet use.
  • Lies to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet.
  • Use of the Internet is a way to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood. (e.g. Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, anxiety, depression.)

Video game addiction

- Cheryl K. Olson, ScD, Lawrence Kutner, PhD, and Eugene V. Beresin, MD

Ben is a 15-year-old boy who has been hospitalized for depression and for cutting himself. He is failing in school, not because he is not smart, but because he cannot reduce the time he spends playing Worlds of Warcraft. He spends 10 to 12 hours a day playing the game-until somebody makes him get off the computer. His parents have put controls on the computer to limit its use, but he has figured out ways to bypass them. He pretends to go to sleep and gets up in the middle of the night to play.

In psychotherapy, Ben revealed that his use of games was "to distract himself" and "to feel happier and not be so upset about things." It became apparent that his game use was, in part, related to untreated depression. With a combination of medication management and individual psychotherapy, the depression improved...

Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction

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 ...



    A common and serious mental disorder characterized by loss of contact with reality (psychosis), hallucinations (false perceptions), delusions (false beliefs), abnormal thinking

    Psychotic Disorders

    Psychotic Disorders

    Psychotic disorders are a collection of disorders in which psychosis ...

    Mood disorders

    Mood disorders

    Mood disorders are among the most common diagnoses in psychiatry ...

    Personality Disorders

    Personality Disorders

    The majority of people with a personality disorder never come ...

    Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence

    Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence

    Many disorders seen in adults can occur in children.

    Substance-Related Disorders

    Substance-Related Disorders

    Substance abuse is as common as it is costly to society...

    Cognitive Disorders

    Cognitive Disorders

    The cognitive disorders are delirium, dementia, and amnestic disorders ...

    Anxiety Disorders

    The term anxiety refers to many states in which the sufferer experiences a sense of impending threat ...

    Miscellaneous Disorders

    Miscellaneous Disorders

    Miscellaneous disorders does not refer to any official...

    Signs of Internet and Gaming Addictions

    Dr. Kimberly Young has linked internet addiction to similar impulse-control disorders. She also developed the Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire (IADQ) to diagnose the disorder.

    Meeting five of the following symptoms were considered necessary to be diagnosed:

    • Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet? (Think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)
    • Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
    • Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
    • Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
    • Do you stay online longer than originally intended?
    • Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
    • Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
    • Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?

    Other Symptoms Include:

    • Failed attempts to control behavior
    • Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and internet activities
    • Neglecting friends and family
    • Neglecting sleep to stay online
    • Being dishonest with others
    • Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of online behavior
    • Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities

    The relationship between impulsivity and Internet addiction in a sample of Chinese adolescents

    - 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 ...

    Risk factors for Internet addiction and computer addiction

    You are at greater risk of Internet addiction if:

    • You suffer from anxiety. You may use the Internet to distract yourself from your worries and fears. An anxiety disorder like obsessive-compulsive disorder may also contribute to excessive email checking and compulsive Internet use.
    • You are depressed. The Internet can be an escape from feelings of depression, but too much time online can make things worse. Internet addiction further contributes to stress, isolation and loneliness.
    • You have any other addictions. Many Internet addicts suffer from other addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex.
    • You lack social support. Internet addicts often use social networking sites, instant messaging, or online gaming as a safe way of establishing new relationships and more confidently relating to others.
    • You're an unhappy teenager. You might be wondering where you fit in and the Internet could feel more comfortable than real-life friends.
    • You are less mobile or socially active than you once were. For example, you may be coping with a new disability that limits your ability to drive. Or you may be parenting very young children, which can make it hard to leave the house or connect with old friends.
    • You are stressed. While some people use the Internet to relieve stress, it can have a counterproductive effect. The longer you spend online, the higher your stress levels will be.

    Is Internet addiction real?

    Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction 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

    Internet Addiction: Recognition and Interventions

    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.

    Internet Addiction: Recognition and Interventions 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...

    Recognize Internet addiction as a mental illness

    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.

    Internet Gaming Addiction

    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 ...

    Internet Addiction Signs and Symptoms

    - 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 ...