Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is not yet officially recognized as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). However, cyber addiction statistics are staggering. Some studies report that more than 8 percent of the US population experiences Internet addiction. Other studies suggest that up to 38 percent of Americans are affected.

What Is Internet Addiction?

Internet addiction disorder is described as an impulse control disorder with obsessive-compulsive qualities. Cyber addiction and Internet addiction disorder result when the brain begins to react to online activity as if it were a drug. Studies have shown that such activity causes the brain to release dopamine. Therefore, this leads to repetitive, compulsive use of computers, cellphones, and other devices connected to the Internet. Teens suffering from Internet addiction tend to focus on social media, online games, and virtual communities.

Once Internet addiction takes hold, the virtual online world can become a priority, acting as a substitute for real-life human connection. Thus, the warning signs of Internet addiction disorder include an intense preoccupation with being online, lying to family members about Internet usage, and moodiness when not able to be online. Therefore, excessive use of the Internet can impair real-world relationships and have other negative consequences.

Consequently, treatment for Internet addiction is often necessary. Internet addiction treatment begins when a teen is able to admit that they have a cyber addiction problem. Subsequently, effective forms of Internet addiction treatment include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and reality therapy. Given the ubiquity of Internet access, inpatient treatment for Internet addiction can help.

Sources: Current Psychiatry ReviewsWorld Journal of PsychiatryEmbo Press Online

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