Internet Addiction is a term created in response to a relatively new psychosocial phenomenon, that of compulsive internet use. It may involve pornography, hacking, harassment, stalking and other unsavory activities. It may also entail an excessive use of social media, chat forums and the abuse of educational sites.
According to contemporary pop psychologists, internet use becomes a compulsion when the user finds that their activity makes them more unhappy and unduly interferes with their jobs or family life.
Internet addiction can arise as a compulsive, non-therapeutic escape from dealing with real personal problems, loneliness being just one of them. However, the American Psychiatric Association has not formally included it as a disorder specific to itself:
In 2006, 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-medicating for depression or other disorders, and compulsion.¹
Moreover, it would be a fallacy to say that all regular and heavy internet users are escaping reality or avoiding unresolved problems. In fact, the whole question of the legitimacy of the internet as a kind of new community type is now being reexamined, especially with the success of YouTube and other social media.
In the past, excessive TV watching hit the news headlines. Now it’s the internet. No doubt the next revolutionary technology that captures the imagination of many and compels us to relate in new ways will be demonized by those who don’t understand the importance of change. But again, like anything, too much of a good thing can ruin it, just as the perversion of a good thing can turn it into a bad thing. So the term internet addiction is by no means spurious.
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