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    Internet Addiction Disorder

    Definition

    Internet addiction disorder (IAD), or, more broadly, Internet overuse, problematic computer use or pathological computer use, is excessive computer use that interferes with daily life.

    Internet Addiction Disorder

    Online activities which, if done in person, would normally be considered troublesome, such as compulsive gambling or shopping, are sometimes called net compulsions. Others, such as reading or playing computer games, are troubling only to the extent that these activities interfere with normal life. Supporters of disorder classification often divide IAD into subtypes by activity, such as excessive, overwhelming, or inappropriate pornography use, gaming, online social networking, blogging, email, or Internet shopping. Opponents note that compulsive behaviors may not themselves be addictive.

    There is debate over whether to include "Internet Addiction" as a diagnosis in DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the next (May 2013) edition of the DSM. Some argue that Internet addiction disorder exists and should be included, and some that it is neither an addiction nor a specific disorder and should not be included in DSM-V.

    In June 2007, the American Medical Association declined to recommend to the American Psychiatric Association that they include IAD as a formal diagnosis in DSM-V, and recommended further study of "video game overuse." Some members of the American Society of Addiction Medicine opposed identifying Internet overuse and video game overuse as disorders. Among the research identified as necessary is to find ways to define "overuse" and to differentiate an "Internet addiction" from obsession, self-medication for depression or other disorders, and compulsion.

    According to the Computer Addiction Study Center at Harvard University's McLean Hospital, between 5% and 10% of Web surfers suffer some form of Web dependency.

    Jeremy Greenfield, Ph.D. of the Center for Internet Behavior conducted a study with ABC News.com in 1999 and is author of Virtual Addiction. He believes that some services available over the Internet have unique psychological properties which induce dissociation, time distortion, and instant gratification, with about 6% of individuals experiencing some significant impact on their lives. However, he says it may not best be seen as an addiction but rather as a compulsion. Greenfield claims that sex, gaming, gambling, and shopping online can produce a mood-altering effect.

    On the other hand, Psychiatrist Dr. Goldberg acknowledges that Internet addiction disorder is not a true addiction and may in fact be no more than a symptom of other, existing disorders. An overbroad description of addiction leaves open the possibility of every compensatory behavior being declared an addiction. For example, a person who has lengthy telephone conversations with a friend to avoid an unpleasant situation could be declared "addicted to the telephone" with equal validity as a person who chats on the Internet with the same underlying goal.

    It is possible that a person could have a pathological relationship with a specific aspect of the Internet, such as bidding on online auctions, viewing pornography, online gaming, or online gambling (which is included under the existing Pathological Gambling), but that does not make the Internet medium itself addictive. For example, whether gambling is done on a computer or face-to-face does not affect whether or not it is pathological; a person with poor impulse control can lose sleep over a suspenseful novel or favorite television show or a computer game or the temptation to click on another web link.

    Also, there are significant and critical differences between common Internet activities (e-mail, chatting, web surfing) and pathological gambling, which the IAD notion heavily parallels. The Internet is largely a pro-social, interactive, and information-driven medium, while gambling is seen as a single, anti-social behavior that has very little social redeeming value. So-called Internet addicts do not suffer from the same damage to health and relationships that are common to established addictions.

    The prevalence of IAD can be attributed to the fact that it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between the online and offline worlds. The Internet has tremendous potential to affect the emotions of humans and in turn, alter our self-perception and anxiety levels.

    Computer addiction, a loosely used term with Internet Addiction, or Video game addiction, is the excessive or compulsive use of computers to the extent that it interferes with daily life. This disorder may affect the following: social interaction, mood, personality, work ethic, relationships, thought process. It may also cause social disorders or possibly sleep deprivation. It is important to note that as of now, psychologists are not sure how to label this disorder. Many refer to it as Internet Addiction Disorder; however, computer addiction originated long before internet use is as common as it is today. In addition, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has yet to recognize this exact disorder, and are more likely to include a more specific term of addiction, such as Internet Addiction, or Video game addiction.

    For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_addiction_disorder

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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    Last updated: June 2013
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