Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is now more commonly called problematic Internet use (PIU), compulsive Internet use (CIU), Internet overuse, problematic computer use, pathological computer use, or iDisorder, refers to excessive computer use which interferes with daily life.
A recent study by Phil Reed and colleagues provides some experimental evidence that internet addicts may be conditioned by what they view on the screen.
The newly published study is one of few in the field that has conducted experiments into internet addiction, rather than surveying participants or examining what happens inside the brains of those who spend excessive amounts of time online.
Reed’s research, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, involved 100 adult volunteers who were deprived of internet access for four hours. The team then asked the participants to name the first colour they thought of, and then gave them 15 minutes to access any websites they wanted to.
The team monitored all the sites that the participants visited, and after another 15-minute period they were again asked to think of the first colour that came to mind. The participants were also asked to complete various psychometric questionnaires including the Internet Addiction Test (IAT).
The IAT is a 20-question test where each question is scored from 0 (not applicable) or 1 (rarely) up to 5 (always). Questions include, for example: how often do you check your e-mail before something else that you need to do?. In previous IAT studies, those that scored 80 or above (out of 100) are typically defined as having a probable addiction to the internet.
Those classed as “high-problem [internet] users” on the basis of IAT scores in this new study were more likely to choose a colour that was prominent on the websites they visited during the 15-minute period after internet deprivation. This wasn’t found in those not classed as internet addicts.
There are of course some activities – such as social networking – that could be argued to be a genuine type of internet addiction as such activities only take place online. However, the addiction is to an application rather than the internet itself and this should be termed social networking addiction rather than an internet addiction.
In short, the overwhelming majority of so-called internet addicts are no more addicted to the internet than alcoholics are addicted to the actual bottle. To read more at the Conversation click here.
Behavioural addictions will be discussed at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference 2016, themed Alcohol – Other Drugs – Behavioural Addictions, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery will be held on the Gold Coast from the 19 – 20 May 2016. To view the high quality Conference Program CLICK HERE.
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