Think twice the next time you play a videogame or surf the Net: ‘Internet-use disorder’ is set to be added to the list of mental illnesses in the worldwide psychiatric manual. Kids are identified as being especially at risk.
The international mental health encyclopedia known as the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ (DSM-IV) will include Internet-use disorder as a condition “recommended for further study” in its forthcoming May 2013 edition.
Psychologists believe that Internet addiction should be categorized like other addiction disorders as it has similar symptoms, including emotional shutdown, lack of concentration and withdrawal.
Parents have noted their children becoming angry and violent when their electronic gadgets are taken away from them, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. In other instances, kids preferred to play a videogame over eating or social interaction.
One step closer to mental illness
The listing is another step towards classifying Internet addiction as a mental illness: The DSM-IV’s new inclusion demonstrates that there are risks posed by overusing technology and that more research is required, which could lead to formal diagnoses of the disorder in the future.
Psychologists are pushing to broaden the diagnoses of Internet-use disorder to include more than just gaming addictions, which could expand the age group of those affected by the illness.
”With kids, gaming is an obvious issue. But overall, technology use could be a potential problem,” Director of the Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre Mike Kyrios told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Australia was one of the first countries to recognize the problem and offer public treatment, and established clinics to treat video game addiction.
That such widely used technologies can cause deep harm to children has lead to further examinations of adults habits surrounding devices used 24/7 for reading, gaming, and social interactions.
When addiction borders on insanity
Addiction to online games is not a new phenomenon, with some cases grabbing international headlines over the past few years.
In a 2009 incident, 17-year-old Daniel Petric of Ohio shot his mother and injured his father after they confiscated his Halo 3 videogame because they feared he was playing it too much.
Chris Staniforth, 20, suffered a blockage to his lungs and died while playing his Xbox for up to 12 hours in 2011.
A year later, another gaming addict died after playing an online videogame for 40 hours straight at an Internet café in Taiwan.
Similar behavior has also been exhibited by adults: A Korean couple was arrested in 2010 after their infant daughter starved to death while the pair played an online game for hours. The videogame the two were playing involved raising a virtual baby.
taken from RT.com via virtualnews.Association of Virtual Worlds.com .
i just found a quote from Chaucer (1343 – 25 October 1400)
“people can die of mere imagination”
so perhaps this is not a new phenomenon. I spent seven years as a drug and alcohol counselor with the London Probation Service. Alcohol is a drug but in those days was seen as different but it isn’t. With these addictions there is a strong physical element, physical damage is present. However the behavioural consequences are the ones that cause most trouble to self and others. I am online 24/7 and an observer might classify me as being addicted. I am a member, as you might know, of second life, a cybercommunity. Can a behaviour be addictive? Well obsessive compulsive disorder is addictive behaviour. It causes physical and social harm. I spent a year training as a behavioural psychotherapist.
Substance abuse, as defined by the DSM-IV, involves a maladaptive pattern of substance use resulting in significant negative physical, social, interpersonal or legal consequences. Unlike substance dependence, the criteria for abuse do not include tolerance, withdrawal or a pattern of compulsive or uncontrolled use.
“Internet Addiction ” will be a disorder of behaviour. It will be characterised by a lack of looking after the persons basic human needs, e.g. eating sleeping etc. Does it include isolation? Perhaps. Is lack of socialisation a necessary component?. Perhaps. However I know from my experiences with second life socialisation is more than adequately catered for. I also socialise using Skype. Therefore being online 24/7 would not be the only criteria for harmful use. My environment does not lend itself to “real” social interaction. In fact it would be detrimental to my well being. However social interaction in the real world may be considered. As with any “substance” perhaps the use to which it is put can determine harm. Thats a can of worms in itself given the diversity of the Internet.
Is Second Life addictive? Firstly for all the people i have met, in the circles i inhabit, sl is not a game. it has been described as a cybercommunity and a virtual world. It operates 24/7. One way of looking at addiction is that it has a “must” compulsion. There is no choice. I have a choice whether or not to use sl. Wiki says:
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. These terms avoid the term addiction and are not limited to any single cause.
IAD was originally proposed as a disorder in a satiricalhoax by Ivan Goldberg, M.D., in 1995. He took pathological gambling as diagnosed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as his model for the description of IAD. It is not, however, included in the current DSM as of 2009. IAD receives coverage in the press, and possible future classification as a psychological disorder continues to be debated and researched in the psychiatric community.
Online activities which, if done in person, would normally be considered troublesome, such as compulsive gambling, or shopping, are sometimes called net compulsions. Other habits such as reading, playing computer games, or watching a staggering amount of internet videos or movies are all 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.
but what is “normal” life in the 21st century? Checking email? Social Networking? The following is worth reading:
Doctors have no problem treating disorders that don’t officially exist, including Internet addiction, one of those non-existent disorders that nonetheless actually has clinics devoted to its “treatment.”
“But Dr. Grohol,” you might protest, “How can you say that? There’s been years worth of research showing Internet disorder does exist!”
And usually, I’d be on-board with you if that research actually was good research — well-designed, without circular-logic reasoning and sampling issues. But Internet addiction is a perfect example of a fad disorder brought about by its connection to the world’s most popular communications and social network, the Internet. And by an inherent misunderstanding of its use by adults (but not by the generations of children, teens, and young adults now growing up with it as a standard part of their communications repertoire).
But as I’ve been pointing out since its inception in 1996, “Internet addiction” has poor evidence because most of the research done into it has been equally as poor. And now Byun and his colleagues (2008) have shown that to be true in a meta-analysis of research done on “Internet addiction” since 1996:
The analysis showed that previous studies have utilized inconsistent criteria to define Internet addicts, applied recruiting methods that may cause serious sampling bias, and examined data using primarily exploratory rather than confirmatory data analysis techniques to investigate the degree of association rather than causal relationships among variables.
Sound familiar? Indeed, the lack of agreement of a definition of the disorder (or a single, reliable test to measure it, as the researchers point out) combined with serious sampling issues in virtually every study conducted means we have little consensus about whether such a thing even exists.
But fear not, we wouldn’t want those Internet addiction clinics to go under or researchers who’ve staked a significant part of their careers on this “disorder” to suddenly find their pat university job at risk…
The new study offers suggestions for future research:
We found that previous studies on Internet addiction were primarily concerned with the antecedents of Internet addiction and with identifying features in participants that made an individual more susceptible to becoming an Internet addict.
However, the development of the concept, due to its complex nature, requires more systematic empirical and theory-based academic research to arrive at a more standardized approach to measurement. The use of representative samples and data collection methods that minimize sampling bias is highly recommended. Further, implementation of analyses methods that can test causal relationships, rather than merely examining the degree of associations, are recommended so that antecedents and consequences of Internet addiction can be clearly differentiated.
What’s happening today and some people’s reaction to the Internet is neither new nor unique — it’s as old as technology itself (starting with the printing press). It’s an overreaction to suggest that the Internet is somehow different than what’s come before, as history tells us otherwise. Every new technology unleashed on society from the 1800s on was thought to be the end of civilized society — the paperback book, the telephone, the automobile, the motion picture, television, and finally video games. And now, the Internet is the latest in a long line of demons society would like to blame for some of its problems.
I don’t deny that some small subset of people have behavioral problems with learning how to integrate using parts of the Internet into their everyday lives. But people have similar problems with work, the television, and many other things in life, and we can still treat them without demonizing (and labeling) the conduit that brings a person new entertainment, information, or enjoyment.
Makes sense to me.
Many people are online 24/7 or close to it, who are not mentally ill. The definition when it is arrived at will have to be carefully formulated. Being online for long periods is a feature of 21st Century Networks in 2013.