Addicted to the Internet
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It has been debated if internet addiction disorder (IAD) should be classified as a disorder or a mere compulsion. IAD is described as the overuse of the internet, which results in a disruption of the normal lives of an individual and the people around him. The term was coined by Dr. Ivan Goldberg in 1995 as a spoof for the growing obsession of excessive cyber activities that is experienced by people all over the world. He used the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Disorder (DSM-IV) diagnostic criteria for gambling addiction as his model to describe IAD.
Consequently, this ‘joke’ was taken seriously by some who see internet addiction as a disturbing malady, so further research is being conducted. However, the American Medical Association opposed the recommendation of including IAD as a formal diagnosis in DSMV-V, claiming that internet overuse and playing video games are not true addictions.
There are several types of activities that can contribute to internet addiction, and these include web surfing, electronic mail (e-mail), online shopping, blogging, online gaming, and pornography. According to the American Psychiatric Association , the following are the diagnostic criteria for IAD:
1) Tolerance – the need to increase the amount of time spent using the internet for satisfaction, or the experience of diminishing effect with continued use of the internet for the same amount of time.
2) Withdrawal symptoms – reduction or cessation of internet usage leads to agitation, anxiety, obsessive thinking of the internet, fantasies or dreams of the internet, and voluntary or involuntary typing movements.
3) Using internet more often or longer than intended.
4) Unsuccessful attempt to cut down internet use.
5) Considerably large amount of time spent on internet activities.
6) Cessation of or reduced social, occupational, or recreational activities because of internet use.
7) Continuous use of the internet despite the knowledge of the risk of losing social relationships.
In response to the diagnostic criteria, it shows that IAD alters the usual activities of an individual and limits his world to the cyberspace, leading to poor education, job performance, relationship failures, and even high health risks. For a personal assessment of internet addiction disorder, you can go to Internet Addiction Quiz .
Since IAD is a newly defined disorder, treatments that are available require further study on their effectiveness. However, there are many websites that offer treatments and support groups for those who are suffering from IAD.
· Treatment for Internet Addiction : Information on treatment for internet addiction
· HealthyPlace.com – IAD Treatment : Information on IAD treatment
· Internet, Porn, and Cyber sex Addiction : Discussions on IAD and tips on how to deal with it
· The Internet Addiction Support Group : A support group created by the Center for Online Addiction
· Internet Addiction Support Group : Provides links to some online support groups
Below are links to articles on IAD in certain countries:
· Internet Addiction Made an Official Disorder in China : A Times Online article on how IAD is affecting the people of China
· Internet Addiction: Not Just ‘Bad Habit’ : China Daily article that discusses cases of IAD in China
· Britons are Officially Addicted to the Internet : An Inquirer article about the Britons’ over dependence on the use of the internet
If internet addiction disorder is left untreated, it can result in serious psychological disorders. Those who are spending too much time on the internet should try to seek treatment or join support groups, so that they can get rid of their obsession and start living a normal and healthy life again.
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