Officially Official – Internet Addiction Considered A Real Mental Disorder

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

It´s official — Internet addiction has been categorized as a mental disorder. While it may be difficult for some people to log off a social network, individuals who suffer from internet addiction have even stronger feelings of depression and moodiness.

According to the Daily Mail, Internet addition was recently included in a list of mental disorders affecting children.

With Internet use disorder, children do not have the willpower to log off the computer and get off the internet. This mental illness is thought to affect children as young as 12 years of age, many of whom are addicted to playing internet and video games. Researchers also believe that addiction to desktop computers, smart phones and tablet computers will be included with the illness. “Internet-use disorder” will be in the Diagnostic and Static Manual of the Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in May 2013, submitted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) for the international manual.

“With kids, gaming is an obvious issue. But overall, technology use could be a potential problem,” explained Mike Kyrios of Swinburne University of Technology, who was one of the lead authors for the APS submissions, in the Daily Mail article.

The American Psychiatric Association also set out a definition of those with Internet addiction. For one, sufferers of the disorder feel withdrawal symptoms when they are not able to use the Internet. As such, it may be difficult for them to quit the Internet and they may attempt multiple times to do. As well, they seek the Internet as a way for achieving happy feelings or to improve their mood.

In addition, a report in Forbes detailed the past research that has been done on the disorder. One study showed how Internet addiction could lead to changes in different parts of the brain, specifically in areas related to attention, emotion processing and control. Other studies have looked at dopamine levels in association with Internet addition. Fewer dopamine receptors, which allow individuals to feel pleasure and reward, are found to be in people who have Internet addiction and overly using the Internet may also impair the ability of dopamine to function.

Apart from research conducted by a number of groups, parents and guardians are frustrated by the increasing addiction to the Internet in their children who may be as young as 12 years old.

“So any expression of distress, frustration, irritability when they don’t get to play,” Emil Hodzic, a psychologist who managed a video game addiction treatment clinic in Sydney, told the Daily Mail.

Many health experts find that a large percentage of individuals who suffer from addiction are children and teenagers.

“A lot of kids I have coming into the clinic have difficulty in being able to tolerate distress without zoning out via the internet or via the games,” remarked Kyrios in the article by the Daily Mail.

Furthermore, health professionals highlight the difficulty in keeping a balance of real life and online life. Treatments are still being developed to address the issue and the research is still very vague. Future treatments may include cognitive behavior therapy.

“I think [it] can be dangerous in not learning how to pay attention in a focused way, but in balance there is nothing wrong with technology,” concluded psychiatrist Rhoshel Lenroot in the Daily Mail article.

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