My Final Research Essay

Today, this generation is beginning to rely more heavily on technology, and most importantly, the internet. Thanks to the internet, attaining information is a lot faster, communication has opened up to everyone around the world, and it keeps people entertained. This generation has become so reliant and dependent on the internet for everything that it is starting to become too obsessive, like an addiction; but can obsessive and compulsive internet use be considered a disorder? In Internet Addiction: A Brief Summary of Research and Practice, it is stated that although Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) may not be considered an official disorder, “… the symptoms we observed in clinical practice show a great deal of overlap with the symptoms commonly associated with (behavioral) addictions” (Cash, et. al, 2012). Internet addiction can and should definitely be considered a disorder because of its effects on mental health, physical health and as well as the symptoms that come with internet addiction. While the internet is definitely one of the most efficient tools that give off more good than bad, people do not realize how this disorder may affect them. The importance of being able to consider internet addiction as an official disorder is to start helping more of the general public become more educated about the topic, and to reach out to those who have already become tech slaves and internet addicts. Once more and more of the general public start to realize the negative effects of the internet within this generation, reaching out will soon turn into rules and maybe even laws that may restrict usage in order to stop the addiction.

In many ways that people are never usually aware of, the compulsive use and addiction to the internet can have negative effects on mental health. From Online Social Networking and Addiction — A Review of the Psychological Literature, Daria J. Kuss andMark D Griffiths claim that: “A behavioral addiction such as SNS addiction may thus be seen from a biopsychosocial perspective. Just like substance-related addictions, SNS (social networking site) addiction incorporates the experience of the ‘classic’ addiction symptoms, namely mood modification, salience, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, and relapse” (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011).If internet addiction disorder is very much like substance-related addictions, then why shouldn’t it be entered into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)? In the DSM, video game addiction disorder is taken into account, while internet addiction is still up for debate. With the internet, there are so many things that are easily accessible, and specific internet addictions that are also easily accessible, such as: “… computer addiction (i.e., computer game addiction), information overload (i.e., web surfing addiction), net compulsions (i.e., online gambling or online shopping addiction), cybersexual addiction (i.e., online pornography or online sex addiction), and cyber-relationship addiction (i.e., an addiction to online relationships)” (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011).The inability to use the internet causes harm to one’s mental health in the form of anger, depression, irritability and even anxiety (Unity Point Health, 2010). With negative effects to mental health comes negative effects to one’s physical health due to internet addiction.

When people are web-surfing, playing online games, gambling, or online shopping for hours on end, they do not realize what it slowly does to their until it is too late. Negative effects to mental health include “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, dry eyes, backaches, severe headaches, eating irregularities, (such as skipping meals), failure to attend to personal hygiene, and sleep disturbance” (Unity Point Health, 2010). When people are on the internet, whether it be through a tablet, a laptop, or even their phones, they seem to block everything else out, placing all attention to their brightly lit screens. While some people may lose track of time and forget to eat, some tend to sit right back down in front of their screens right after eating; there is no exercise, and the fats and calories that were consumed just sit in their bodies, which leads to an unhealthy life style and body. The negative effects of internet addiction on mental and physical health can both take quite a toll, and it seems to be too late for the internet user to realize what is going on because of ignorance to internet addiction’s symptoms. Symptoms of internet addiction are said to be very much like the symptoms of substance-related addictions. Some symptoms or warning signs of being addicted to the internet include:

“Preoccupation with the internet (Thoughts about previous on-line activity or anticipation of the next on-line session), use of the internet in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction, repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop internet use, feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the internet, is on-line longer than originally intended, jeopardized or risked loss of significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunities because of internet use, lies to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the internet, use of the internet is a way to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood (e.g. Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)” (Unity Point Health, 2010).

Some mental and physical effects mentioned again are also symptoms and warning signs of internet addiction. If internet addiction symptoms are very much like substance-related addictions, then mental and some physical effects of internet addiction are somewhat close to substance addictions, too. These symptoms are more of a reason as to why internet addiction should be considered a disorder.Because the symptoms and effects of both substance and internet addiction are found to be very similar, the process of trying to stop the addiction are also found to be very similar. For drug addictions, in order to stop or try to cease the addiction, an individual would have to be admitted into a rehabilitation center to undergo a detox program, along with counseling and medical help when going through withdrawals. In Korea, there is a rehabilitation camp set up for adolescents that are addicted with technology and the internet. This method of stopping internet addiction was put into place after realizing that even their Cinderella Law could not keep young adolescents off of the internet after midnight. At the camp, the children turn in their devices and stay for as long as weeks to even months. They re-learn to communicate with others face-to-face, get daily exercise, and even rebuild face-to-face skills when around others.

In conclusion, because the mental and physical effects and the symptoms and warning signs of internet addiction are very similar to a drug and substance addiction, this addiction should be considered as a disorder. Those who are constantly online and use the internet compulsively for hours on end seem to be getting progressively worse due to the lack of knowledge of the disorder. While trying to fix or resolve this addiction may seem impossible due to the internet becoming a necessity in everyday lives, the very first step before reaching any resolution is to consider it as an official disorder.