Cyberculting

A blog about Cyberculture and ICTs.

Posts Tagged ‘addiction’

Addicted

Posted by candacewhitehead on May 26, 2008

I’m addicted to a number of things – my cellphone, being the main one – but according to the Internet Addiction Test, I’m not addicted to the Internet – yet.

 

What started out as a hoax has become a chilling reality – although according to psychologist John M Grohol it is not a recognised disorder. However, more and more psychologists are being trained to identify and deal with Internet addiction.

 

Internet addiction can basically be defined as a compulsive disorder, which, like any other addiction, has a massive impact on the individual’s work and personal life. The Internet takes preference over other friends, family and colleagues – and without their daily “fix”, addicts experience withdrawal, which may include tremors and anxiety. Some patients even report suffering nervous breakdowns when they can’t go online.

 

Internet addiction can be further subcategorised into addiction to online gaming, porn, cybersex, compulsive surfing and eBay addiction. These have real effects on people, and Internet sites (oh the irony) have been set up to provide information for sufferers, attorneys and psychologists.  

 

Most psychologists do not recognise Internet addiction as a real problem yet. An article by psychologist John M Grohol written in 1999 and revised in 2005 – “The Internet Addiction Guide” claims that Internet addiction can be relegated into the same categories as watching too much TV or reading too many books – basically, too much escapism as a result of depression or other psychological disorders.

 

While I can see the merit in this argument, I disagree – I have seen people become physically addicted to chat sites, forums and even Facebook. These people sit on the Internet until all hours of the night, too scared to move from their desk in case something happens online and they miss it. They begin to neglect their friends, their family and even their professional life – an effect something like alcoholism might have. How then can this not be seen as a real disorder?

 

Like many other addictions, it seems that young people (children and teenagers) are most at risk of developing an addiction. Adolescents who are socially awkward are most at risk, which is logical to me. It is much easier to spend all your time online, most likely being someone else, than it is to deal with the “real world” – and I addressed something similar to this in my first blog post. But where to draw the line, and how to treat it?

 

Clearly it is impractical to go cold turkey and ban the use of the Internet entirely. The majority of the professional world makes use of the Internet for communication and research, so to say to your boss “I’m sorry, because of my Internet addiction I’m not allowed to use the Internet, could you rather get Jones to do it?” might lose you your job. Dr Kimberley Young, who maintains www.netaddiction.com suggests that like an eating disorder, the key to beating Internet addiction is to develop a healthy pattern of consumption. She also suggests treatment either as an inpatient or an outpatient – and counselling for you and your family should be arranged. Self-help groups may also be beneficial.

 

Next time you see that the same person has been on Facebook from when you signed in at nine in the morning to when you check your last inbox message at four am, don’t be so quick to write them off as being a loser. They are potentially suffering from addiction – as you might be. Hey, it’s not just me that compulsively checks their e-mail twenty times a day.

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