At present, the term Problematic Internet Use is the preferred term since it’s more descriptive and less stigmatizing than “addiction.” TOO MUCH TIME ONLINE
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and adolescents spend no more than 2 hours of screen time. This means time in front of the TV, laptops, gadgets, and mobile phones. But most kids prefer to play with their gadgets rather than with other kids. Teenagers stay up till morning playing video games. They don’t do their homework, have diﬃculty getting up, and are too sleepy to pay attention in class. Everyone seems to be on their devices all the time, talking, messaging, posting, checking the number of likes on their FB posts. They say, “I can’t live without my phone…” Are they—we—all addicted?
WHAT ADDICTION IS
Excessive time (what we Filipinos like to call “unli”) spent online is definitely an aspect of “Internet addiction.” But not all persons who spend long hours online are Internet addicts. An IT specialist, for instance, who must work all day in front of the computer, cannot be automatically defined as an addict. But there will be a problem if that same person spends time in online gaming instead of working, neglects to sleep or eat, and prefers to stay online than interact with others. Although there is no comprehensive definition of Internet addiction, “addiction” implies excessive, obsessive, and compulsive behaviors that lead to neglect of other normal daily activities and interactions. “Internet Addiction Disorder” (IAD) was first studied by Dr. Kimberly Young in 1996. Since then, there has been a deluge of studies in this area, and IAD has become known by many other names—Internet Dependency, Compulsive Internet Use, Pathological Internet Use, and Problematic Internet Use (PIU). “Internet addiction” may involve various online activities, including gaming, gambling, cyber sex, pornography, social networking, and shopping. Is IAD a real addiction similar to addiction to tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs?
Psychiatrists were asked to consider IAD as a mental illness since online “addicts” showed the same compulsion, obsession, and signs of withdrawal. After much debate, the American Psychiatric Association decided to include Internet Gaming Disorder in Section III of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-V, 2013). This section includes conditions that “need further study and clinical research.” Video games are addicting because gamers are motivated by the rewards offered with the medium of the games (such as virtual goods, social feedback, and even escape from reality). Games like the World of Warcraft are more addictive than others because they offer more intense rewards or rewards on “partial reinforcement schedules” that encourage sustained play. At present, the term Problematic Internet Use is the preferred term since it’s more descriptive and less stigmatizing than “addiction.” September-November 2016 | FamilyMatters