Is 'Internet Use Disorder' A Sensationalist Condition Or A Real Problem?

The internet brings us a wealth of information and entertainment. It also brings us several problems, and those may include withdrawal. The American Psychiatric Association has determined there's a psychological issue called "Internet Use Disorder" that may cause you trouble when you're offline.

Here's how the APA defines Internet Use Disorder (IUD):

A preoccupation with gaming, withdrawal symptoms (such as anxiety and irritability) while offline, the need to spend increasing amounts of time gaming (called "tolerance"), loss of other interests and hobbies, inability to limit gaming time, use of gaming to improve mood, deception of family and friends about extent of use, and jeopardising opportunities because of gaming.

The Consumerist notes that IUD isn't just for gamers, but that other studies have linked the condition to general web use. While there's no question we, as a society, are moving towards internet dependency and that technology is seriously addictive, does it really deserve to be called a psychological disorder? Should we be taking action to prevent it now, or is this an overreaction and we'll simply adjust over time? Could the APA think of no other name for the disorder than one that shares an acronym with intrauterine device? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: Olga Palma.


Comments

    I broke up a relationship because she just couldn't stay off Facebook and the internet. All day, every day, even at work - she never logged off except just before going to sleep. The maximum amount of time between checking FB, emails, or other social media was about 10 minutes, and that was only if I stopped her from checking her phone or laptop.

    Now that is a serious addiction.

    Just the usual crap the psychs come up with. To be discredited in years to come. In the meantime big pharma jumps in and develops a drug to "treat" the condition and the psychs get backdoor payments prescribing the rubbish. Sickening! I think it's called Dysfunctional Diagnosis Disorder.

    The DSM is designed to provide a framework for conceptualising and researching anything that causes significant distress or impairment. It reifies newly emerging problems such as this, but it only describes symptoms rather than causes. Research tells us this is a problem, so yes, it below gs there.

      +1

      Good to hear someone who sounds like they know what they are talking about. DSM-III was originally a research tool but has somehow morphed into something much more influential (whether for better or for worse is another discussion in itself). Syndromes and disorders are, by definition, simply descriptions of observations and these in themselves require cultural and societal context.

    Citations / links needed... ;)

    Funnily we don't have a TV-watching disorder to go along with this.

    i think i probably developed my anxiety BEFORE i got addicted to video games and chatting to people online. i was always a shy kid, never had that many friends, so obviously chatting online gave me more emotional satisfaction because it felt like i could connect to people on a deeper level than i ever had before. but it does ruin your life, because, at the end of the day, you gotta eat, and to eat, you gotta work. been on 5 different types of medication in the last 2 years for anxiety AND depression, doesn't make a dint. appreciated the government, appreciate that its all free and that people are trying to help me, if this was american, id definitely be on my own. but it still doesn't really help, and, at the end of the day, you cant help a worthless person, you know? if you just aren't cut out for the real world, the social aspect of things. some people are just born worthless i guess. not my fault. dropping out of my diploma soon, gonna end my life.

      Hey Zongo, if you ended your life, the world would lose someone of value. You suggest that you are a worthless person. I can tell just from your post that you are someone with a capacity for empathy. Otherwise you would not appreciate that those who designed the australian health system as you do. You also probably have good analytic skills since you appreciate the difference between our health system and that of the USA whose health system is so uncaring towards even people who have paid for their own health insurance as well as many vulnerable people.
      I understand that when you are deeply depressed, it seems impossible to appreciate much about yourself. I am sure you know already that such a bleak view is an aspect of depression. It sounds as if you have been battling depression for at least two years, maybe a lot longer. Can you remember a time when you were not depressed and enjoyed aspects of life? Can you hold the possibility that life can return to that again for you or better?
      I attended some years ago a workshop by an american psychiatrist who researched failed suicide jumps where people had survived against the odds. An example was someone jumping from the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and somehow surviving. The people the psychiatrist spoke to had no further desire to attempt suicide. One clear conclusion he made was that there is something in the psyche of these people that needs to die, so that they can move on. It is not an actual death that is required but that is the conclusion the suicidal person has come to. Obviously, working with a psychiatrist or psychologist would be the way to work through this.
      I presume you are seeing a psychiatrist already? Maybe not? Drugs by themselves are not a solution although they help many people to get by. If your psychiatrist or doctor is not doing more than prescribing, maybe think about finding another who will talk with you about your life and finding ways to make it better.
      It is not you who is to blame for not fitting into the world. Our modern western world is not well set up to cater for those who are less outgoing and who are more sensitive, of whom you may be one. You say you were a shy kid without many friends. That is a hallmark of sensitivity. (Look up Highly Sensitive Person on the net.)
      I for one hope you will stay the course through this black period and hang in until better times come. In the meantime, you have always got a choice. Keep choosing the things that have a chance of making your life better no matter how slightly. Give up your diploma if you like but don't give up your life.

        i dont know, it feels like this is the way my life has been heading. it feels inevitable. i dont like who i am, and people dont like who i am, and i cant change that, no matter what i do i cant change that. i started getting these feelings when i was 14. im 18 now. i was seeing a psychologist for a year when i was 17, (in child mental health) for my anxiety disorder, but just like the medication, it was pointless. when i turned 18 i had to find someone else because she only dealt with children. but i didn't bother. man i appreciate that you even replied, i can understand the skepticism people see towards someone posting suicidal things on the internet. it wasn't really a cry for help, just a final goodbye i think. to whoever was listening. i really wish Australia had assisted suicide because the easiest way is going to be lying on train tracks. i have youtubed a lot of it, seems like it will work. appreciate your kind words man. anyways, if you hear about some 18 year old guy who suicided by lying on train tracks in the logan/brisbane area, was me :)

      @zongo.., you are not worthless... although it you may feel that way right now...."You were born because you are special to someone!" Don't give up....

      So change it up. If you have nothing to lose then you have nothing to fear; go get a plane ticket to anywhere and just wing it; buy a nice suit and try to romance pretty girls till you die of thirst; play an instrument; learn a language; take up mountain climbing; just do until you cannot do anymore.
      You are going to die some day no matter what, so why rush? Stick it out if only so you can say you did, so you can say you never gave in.
      And if, when you are an old man with nothing more to do, you look back on it all and declare "Yes, that was bullshit" then you can die content that you knew for sure.

        Well said.

    When someone spend too much time on reading books or playing piano, Do we call them addicts or has books disorder? The internet is just another media. However if it interfere with your life or affect your relationship then it may be an issue... But again we then to be more tolerance with someone spending too much time on piano than the internet... Have we not evolved to embrace the new technological advancement? Just a thought ....

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