By JAMES LUPIA
The advent of the Internet has caused psychologists to notice trends between excessive web use and issues at home, school and work. It has been linked to the deterioration of family units and marriages, has caused students to fail out of college and has led to problems in the workplace.
Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is the term used to describe excessive, uncontrollable use of the Internet, according to clinicalpsychology.net. The study of IAD is an emerging field that has not been fully explored by psychologists.
A 2010 study by the Addiction Medicine Centre in Beijing writes that IAD is a behavioral addiction which is an “impulse-control [disorder] and share many underlying similarities to substance addictions, including aspects of tolerance, withdrawal, repeated unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit and impairment in everyday life functioning.”
Kimberly Young, author of “Internet Addiction: The Emergence of a New Clinical Disorder,” compares IAD to problems such as eating disorders, compulsive gambling and alcoholism.
The Addiction Medicine Centre places IAD into three categories: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations and e-mail/text-messaging.
Excessive Internet use by college students was documented early on in the examination of IAD.
A 1996 study done on IAD by Young found that, “although the merits of the Internet make it an ideal research tool, students experienced significant academic problems as they surf irrelevant web sites, engage in chat room gossip, converse with Internet pen-pals and play interactive games at the cost of productive activity. They were often unable to control their Internet use, which eventually resulted in poor grades, academic probation and even expulsion from the university,” Young wrote.
Sophomore psychology major Judy Antonowicz comments on Internet use among her peers.
“Everyone turns to their computer for pretty much everything, rather than a book, so they are always on [the Internet],” said Antonowicz.
There is, however, dispute among psychologists as to the veracity of IAD.
Tori DeAngelis, author of the article, “Is Internet Addiction Real?,” writes that, “many psychologists even doubt that addiction is the right term to describe what happens to people when they spend too much time online.”
Christie Cons, a junior physics major, has some uncertainties about IAD.
“I can’t relate because I’m never on my computer, but I think people get so distracted and it wastes a lot of time,” said Cons. “It also depends what they are on their computer for.”
Clinicalpsychology.net, which published the study, “How Clinical Psychology is Improving Our Understanding of Internet Addiction,” writes, “There is a lack of empirical evidence to support its definition as an addiction.”
The Addiction Medicine Centre supports the claim of IAD as an addiction, writing, “Our findings suggest that the proposed diagnostic criteria may be useful for the standardization of diagnostic criteria for IAD.”
Clinicalpsychology.com writes that the most common form of treatment for Internet addition is “cognitive-behavior therapy,” which is often used to “treat impulse control disorders as well as substance abuse” and has been shown to be effective.