Ten years ago, the only people who spent a majority of their leisure time on the computer were paid members of the technology industry. Today, however, surfing the Web has become a pastime as social and marketable as bar hopping or going to the movies. As the web has become a part of mainstream life, some mental health professionals have noted that a percentage of people using the web do so in a compulsive and out-of-control manner. In one extreme (1997) Cincinnati case, unemployed mother Sandra Hacker allegedly spent over 12 hours a day secluded from her three young and neglected children while she surfed the Web. For better or for worse, this phenomena of compulsive Internet use has been termed 'Internet Addiction' based on its superficial similarity to common addictions such as smoking, drinking, and gambling. Internet Addiction has even been championed as an actual disorder, notably by psychologists Kimberly Young, Ph.D and David Greenfield, Ph.D.. However, at this time the true nature of Internet Addiction is not yet determined.
In a true addiction, a person becomes compulsively dependent upon a particular kind of stimulation to the point where obtaining a steady supply of that stimulation becomes the sole and central focus of their lives. The addict increasingly neglects his work duties, relationships and ultimately even his health in his drive to remain stimulated. In some cases of addiction (such as addiction to alcohol or to heroin), a phenomenon known as tolerance occurs, wherein more and more stimulation is required to produce the same pleasurable effect. A related phenomena, withdrawal, can also occur, wherein the addicted person comes to be dependent upon their source of stimulation and experiences dramatically unpleasant (and even potentially lethal -- as can be the case with alcohol) reactions when he goes without it. Sources of addictive stimulation can be chemical (as is the case with addictive drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and heroin), sensual (as in sex) or even informational (as in gambling or workaholism). What all sources of addictive stimulation have in common is that they provoke a strong, usually positive (at first) reaction in the potential addict, who then seeks out the source of that stimulation so as to obtain that feeling on a regular basis.
While many people like to engage in sexual relations, or gamble, or have the occasionally drink because of the pleasure to be had, clearly not all people who do so are addicts. Rather, the term addiction only applies when someone's stimulation seeking gets to the point where it starts interfering with their ability to function normally and non-neglectfully at work and in relationships.
Mental health professionals are split as to whether or not Internet addiction is real. No one disputes that some people use the Internet in a compulsive manner even to a point where it interferes with their their ability to function at work and in social relationships. What is disputed is whether people can become addicted to the Internet itself, or rather to the stimulation and information that the web provides. The controversy surrounding Internet Addiction is precisely whether people become addicted to the net itself, or to the stimulation to be had via the net (such as online gambling, pornography or even simple communication with others via chat and bulletin boards).
Some psychologists do not believe in addiction to the Internet itself, but rather in addiction to stimulation that the Internet provides. They suggests that new Internet users often show an initial infatuation with the novelty of the Web, but eventually lose interest and decrease their time spent online back to a normal, healthy amount. Those users who do go on to show compulsive Internet utilization, for the most part become compulsive only with regard to particular types of information to be had online, most often gambling, pornography, chat room or shopping sites. This is not an addiction to the Internet itself, but rather to risk-taking, sex, socializing or shopping. In essence then, the chief addictive characteristic of the Internet is its ability to enable instant and relatively anonymous social stimulation. “Addicted” Internet users are addicted to a favored kind of social stimulation and not to the Internet itself, although it is also true that the Internet has made it vastly easier and more convenient for someone to develop such a compulsion.
Because the Internet is used by many people as a normal part of their career or education, knowing how to separate excessive from normal use becomes difficult and cannot be accomplished using simple measures such as amount of time spent online in a given period. Most fundamental in differentiating normal from problem Internet use is the experience of compulsion to use the net. Normal users, no matter how heavy their usage, do not need to get online and do not neglect their occupational duties or their relationships with family and friends to get online.
Help for Internet related addiction is available from multiple sources. Anyone concerned about serious problem Internet usage should consider consulting with a local licensed psychologist, social worker or counselor, specifically one with experience treating addictions. Cognitive therapy based approaches are recommendable due to their systematic and direct focus on reducing problem use and preventing relapse, and the strong scientific support for the approach. Marital and or family therapy approaches may be useful as well when an individual's Internet Addiction is affecting their larger family system (such as might be the case when a husband uses Internet-based pornography as his sole sexual outlet, leaving his wife frozen out). More than a few books and self-help resources (such as audio tape sets) are also available for those who want to educate themselves on the problem. Our Internet Addiction Treatment article provides further detail.
Internet Addiction Essay
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Essay on Internet Addiction
By Andrew Wamae
Since the advent of the internet it has been used as one of the most universal tool for
communication between parties in widespread geographical locations; people have used the
internet to access information in websites, to chat, to send emails, to do shopping, to gamble,
play games, watch videos, download files and music, et cetra. The internet has therefore become
a crucial enabler in the lives of many people throughout the world, such that some people even
believe they cannot do without it. Internet addiction may be said to arise from excessive use of
internet that may lead to compulsive behavior by the internet user, or what is called pathological
internet use. People addicted by the internet are known not to be able to resist the lure of the
cyberspace (Griffiths, 2000).
Nature of Internet Addiction
According to the Centre for Internet Addiction (2011) research on internet addiction originated
in the US by Dr. Kimberly Young in 1996. Since then, studies have documented Internet
addiction in a growing number of countries such as Italy, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, and the Czech
Republic. Reports also indicate that Internet addiction has become a serious public health
concern in China, Korea, and Taiwan. Some of the notable signs from the addicts are: heightened
sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities; neglecting friends and
family; neglecting sleep to stay online; being dishonest with others; feeling guilty, ashamed,
anxious, or depressed as a result of online behavior; physical changes such as weight gain or
loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome; withdrawing from other pleasurable
activities, and other such behaviour. Some people have even been known to prefer cyber friends
than actual friends, and have cyber affairs, and cyber sex. This has led to such people getting
antisocial and getting themselves in anti social behaviors including drug abuse, depressions and
lack of self confidence as they are unable to face the real world.
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Internet addiction has been viewed as a disorder by some psychologists and clinicians in as much
as some practioners are unaware of its existence. (Young, 1998 and Young, 1999). Supporters of
disorder classification have often divided internet addiction disorder into subtypes by activity,
such as excessive, overwhelming, or inappropriate pornography use, gaming, online social
networking, blogging, email, or
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