Addiction to the Internet Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Internet Addiction Disorder

Internet Addiction

Internet Addiction Disorder is a disease that has emerged in recent years and is at the time still new in terms of identification of symptom and treatment options as well. This work will research and examine information relating to the disorder illustrated in Internet usage, or over-use according to some.

Evidence of Internet Addiction Disorder

Stated symptoms of Internet Addiction are: (1) Using the online services everyday without any skipping; (2) Loosing track of time after making a connection; (3) Going out less and less; (4) Spending less and less time on meals at work or at home, eating in from of the computer monitor; (5) Denial of spending too much time online; (6) Others complaining of too much time being spent online; (7) Checking email too many times a day; (8) Thinking one has the best web site of all and pushing ones' URL upon people; (9) Logging onto the Net while already busy at work; (10) Sneaking online when spouse of family members not at home with a sense of relief. (Source: Addictions and Life Page: Symptoms of Internet Addiction (2005) Retrieved from the Internet 08-20-2005.

II. Symptoms & Clinical Implications

Ivan Goldberg, a New York psychiatrist announced in 1995 that a new addiction had culminated which left individuals neglecting obligations to the family in order to surf the Internet. Mental health experts agree that while an invaluable service has been made available to people in many aspects the Net has also created a new addiction all its' own.

Goldberg did not mean for his announcement to be taken seriously however Kimberly Young assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburg at Bradford in the State of Pennsylvania believes that the disorder exists. Young conducted an exploratory study through use of a seven-item questionnaire. In Young's work Internet Addiction: The Emergency of a New Clinical Disorder Young states: This paper concludes that people can and do become addicted to the Internet, which should be a growing concern among mental health practitioners." She said that symptoms include preoccupation with the Internet, an inability to control Internet use, and restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down on Internet use."

Another who shares the view of Young is Maressa Hecht Orzack. PhD, who founded and coordinates the Computer Addiction Services at McLean Hospital in Belmont Massachusetts, Orzack states that "There are unique things here that don't seem to exist in other areas of addiction. The connection that people get from chats and e-mail is quite different than sitting there doing word-processing."

According to clinical psychological and director of the Dublin, Ohio-based Mental Health Net, John Grohol "The problem is that that's not how we create new mental disorder in the scientific field of mental health. People don't just dream up the criteria and post it to the Internet. That's not the say its' done. Its' done after years of research that shows this is a distinct and unique disorder." (Nurseweek/Healthweek Interview)

Interestingly, the Mental Health Net legitimated IAD by including at its Web site Goldberg's symptoms and other online addiction resources without explanation about the joke played by Goldberg'. However, Grohol has changed the page titled to Internet Addiction Disorder to read: "Due to the fact that the so-called internet addiction disorder" has not yet been validated by empirical research, we believe it to be fueling the fire behind the misinformation to publish the joke criteria for the disorder which began as a parody here." The question remaining is what to do with the masses of people seeking treatment for this disorder.

A study conducted by Greenfiled and through use of one of the largest surveys on the topic of 18,000 Internet users in 1998 logging onto states findings that 5.7% of the sample met criteria for compulsive Internet use. Stated is that, "Those findings square with figures from smaller studies done by others, which range from 6% to 14%. Study participants who met Greenfield's criteria (adapted from criteria for compulsive gambling) were particularly hooked on chat rooms, pornography, online shopping and e-mail, he found. About a third said they use the Internet as a form of escape or to alter their mood on a regular basis." (DeAngelis, )

Further stated as finding of the study is that addicted people were far more likely to admit feelings of losing control in their Net use than were 'nonaddicts'. According to Greenfield the loss of control is just the first of many indications of "the potency of the psychoactive nature of the Internet. Other signs are stated to include distortion of time, accelerated intimacy and decreased inhibition. 83% of those that land in the addiction bracket report a loss of boundaries while using the net compared to only 37% of those who didn't meet the criteria classifying them as addicted.

Further found was the 75% of addicts' stated that they had developed feelings of intimacy for those met online compared to on 38% of those not classified as addicts'. Additionally those regularly logging onto porn sites was 62% of those classified as 'addicted' and 37.5% admitted to masturbating online. Greenfield states that: "Regardless of the technical definition of Internet addiction, there is clearly something unique and powerful going on here," Greenfield says. "The most widely affected areas seem to be marriages and relationships due to compulsive pornography, cybersex and cyberaffairs. Greenfield along with many other studies reports a "preponderance of male Internet addicts." In a study that has not been published Keith Anderson, PHD of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institution in a study of 1,300 college students found that 91 of the 103 meeting Anderson's criteria for "Internet Dependence" were indeed male. However Young's study states that men and women are both addicted pretty evenly. Men are more focused on sexual material while women focus on relationships and personal interactions according to Cooper who is Stanford University's counseling and psychological services center training coordinator at Cowell Student Health Center.

The piecharts below show the statistical data collected by Young in related research.

Figure 1.0

Source: Internet Addiction (2005) at:

Figure 2.0

Source: Internet Addiction (2005) at:

Figure 3.0

Source: Internet Addiction (2005) at:

Figure 4.0

Source: Internet Addiction (2005) at:

II. Assistance or Treatment for Internet Addiction Disorder

Treatment for this disorder is based upon treatment for other addiction disorders and the theoretical framework applied within those treatment programs such as addiction to drugs, alcohol or other common addictions.

IV. Treatment College/Employer Oriented

Center for Internet Studies founder David Greenfield, PhD, in his study found that sixty percent of managers states that they had disciplined employees for online misuse and 30% had fired people for such behavior which included downloading pornography and shopping and gambling online. Further 83% of managers had written memos to employees related to the issue of internet misuse while 57% had concerns about this specific issue using various methods for enforcement with 37% stating they had software to monitor their employees. Attempts made by employers to curb this disorder causing workplace problems are putting the computers in a breakroom and limiting use of the Internet to only short periods rewarded to the employee. Keith Anderson, PhD believes that while empirical evidence is not available clinicians cannot just refuse to treat those with the dependency on the Internet. Young says "clinicians can't wait for the perfect data before they start treating people." Orzack states that "Whether it's an addiction, a symptom or a new tool, something is happening and it needs to be treated."

Summary & Conclusion

While this disorder was first named as somewhat of a joke, it is clear from those stating need of treatment that there is an existence of some type of addictive disorder related to the Internet. While empirical evidence does not yet exist,…

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