Posted: September 4th, 2013
Internet Addiction Disorder
Internet addiction disorder refers to a behavioral malady that affects computer users who tend to engulf themselves excessively in computer usage to a point that disrupts their normal lives. It is characterized by net compulsions, cyber-relationship addiction, cybersex addiction, computer addiction and information overload. We live in a digitized world and a great proportion of our activities are better done digitally for efficacy and reliability. The use of computers has therefore become mandatory for everyone in businesses, schools, and even personal use. In addition, the world has become a global village with the incorporation of social networks, search engines and leisure activities in the internet.
Mobile phones have also been revolutionized to hold certain internet applications for the owners. Since the idea sprung, some computer and mobile phone users have immersed themselves in the internet such that other normal activities in their lives have been vividly sidelined. Internet usage can only be termed as a disorder if it pushes the user to alienate from important things in his or her life. There has been a debate among different people on whether such consistent and excessive usage of the internet is a fad or a real problem. Therefore, several scientists have taken their stands to clarify the ideology of internet addiction disorder.
Fad or Real Problem
According to Grohol (1999), a psychologist, there has not been extensive research yet to validate excessive internet use as a disorder since only exploratory surveys were used for determination. Such surveys were not backed by outright rationale to expose the problem clearly as a psychological disorder. Therefore, it still stands on its theoretical base. Due to lack of solid conclusions from the surveys, the terminology for the presumed malady is considered a scientific fallacy. Grohol furthers his thought for internet addiction disorder as a fad when he asserts that just as too much television watching or book reading has not been diagnosed as a disorder. He does not see the reason why internet addiction can be termed as a disorder. Ivan Goldberg, M.D rules out internet addiction as a disorder since he argues that just as workers are addicted to their work to solve other problems in their lives so does internet users. In his view, the workers cannot be termed to have a disorder because they are doing it for a worthy cause. Hence, according to him internet addiction disorder is simply a fad.
Scientists who believe that internet addiction disorder is a fad argue that the addiction is not necessarily caused by the technology but by people’s behavior when they want to drift away from the problems they are facing in their normal lives. If at all the internet users have no problems in their normal lives, then they are probably compelled to over use it based on other similar interests and behavioral forms such excessive reading books and watching too much television. Cognitive behavior techniques in psychotherapy can be used to correct such behavior. Furthermore, Grohol (1999) believes that case studies are not in any way helpful than the unauthentic surveys because instead of determining the causes and effects, case studies only provoke emotional reactions about the idea of internet over-use.
On the other hand, scientists who are out to prove that internet over-use among people is actually a disorder have attempted several affirmations. Young et al (2011) insist that excessive net use is nothing less than a clinical disorder. They emphasize that the human brain undergoes certain morphological changes when a person is addicted to the net in the same way that there are changes in the brains of those addicted to drugs and other detrimental instances. Proponents have based their conclusions on clinical criteria that march the levels of chemical addictions. Internet addiction can cause inefficiency in decision-making among users and with the effect stretched to an experience of short-term memory. Case study on Chinese college students addicted to computers confirmed the morphological brain changes (Shek et al, 2008). Online gambling causes financial strains for users because they indulge in the game and lose a lot of money. Social networks crack physical friendly and family relations. Online affairs or relations cause unfortunate break ups. For these reasons, proponents strongly believe that internet addiction disorder is a real problem.
Young (2011) compares internet addiction to other addictive disorders, which are based on impulse-control. Her criterion for diagnosing the disorder was the use of the Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire with questions that could guide the respondent to provide measurable evidence. The responses covered a wide range of symptoms such as neglecting friends and family, dishonesty, guilt and anxiety, withdrawal from important schedules, physical problems and inability to control the behavior. Her department, which is known as The Center for Internet Addiction provides treatment for those diagnosed with internet addiction disorder by the application of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.
When a person constantly indulges in an activity beyond the required measure, he or she becomes addicted. Addiction causes a mental drift in the life of a person to the point that he or she stops recognizing priorities in life. Cybersex addiction, online gambling, net compulsions and too much engagement in social network, whether categorical or combined, lead to the disruption of a person’s social system. If a person’s social and normal life system is disrupted, there is an underlying disorder responsible for the action; hence, it must be addressed to balance the person’s schedule. However, a lot of research needs to be done to come up with substantial evidence as to why internet addiction is categorized as a disorder that needs psychiatric therapy so that opponents can chip in to play a role in averting it.
Grohol, JM. “Too Much Time Online: Internet Addiction or Healthy Social Interactions?” Cyberpsychology & Behavior: the Impact of the Internet, Multimedia and Virtual Reality on Behavior and Society. 2.5 (1999): 395-401. Print.
Shek, DT, VM Tang, and CY Lo. “Internet Addiction in Chinese Adolescents in Hong Kong: Assessment, Profiles, and Psychosocial Correlates.” Thescientificworldjournal. 8 (2008): 776-87. Print.
Young, Kimberly S, and Cristiano N. Abreu. Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.
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