People who spend too much time on the Internet may soon be classified as being addicted to it, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Internet Use Disorder (IUD) will be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as a condition that is "recommended for further study." Australian psychology professionals have welcomed the addition of IUD in the psychiatric manual, Sarah Whyte wrote in the Sun-Herald.
The placement of Internet addiction along with other types of substance addiction is a widely debated issue. Experts say that Internet addiction is a secondary outcome of an underlying cause (for example, these people might suffer from anxiety and so use internet more than others).
Experts from Australia say that not only computers, but also the over-use of iPads, tablets and other devices must be included in the disorder.
''With kids, gaming is an obvious issue. But overall, technology use could be a potential problem,'' said Mike Kyrios from Swinburne University of Technology. Kyrios is one of the authors of the Australian Psychological Society's submission to the DSM-IV. He is pushing for IUDto be formally included in the list of addictions, reported Sun-Herald.
Previous research on a small study group has shown that teenagers who are addicted to the Internet have structural changes in the brain like lower levels of gray matter density compared to teenagers who aren't addicted to Internet.
''The most typical sign of addiction is anything that looks like withdrawal symptoms. So any expression of distress, frustration, irritability when they don't get to play," said Emil Hodzic, a qualified psychologist. Hodzic says about 70 percent of his patients are children and teens who show addiction symptoms and are often anxious, Sun-Herald reports.
''A lot of kids I have coming into the clinic have difficulty in being able to tolerate distress without zoning out via the internet or via the games,'' he told the Sun-Herald.
Rhoshel Lenroot, the chairman of child psychiatry at the University of New South Wales, said that it is probably too early to understand the effects of Internet overuse. ''I think [it] can be dangerous in not learning how to pay attention in a focused way, but in balance there is nothing wrong with technology,'' Lenroot said, Sun-Herald reports.
According to an editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Jarold J. Black says that there are some signs that show a person is addicted to the internet.
1) Excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives.
2) Withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible.
3) Tolerance, including the need for better computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use.
4) Negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation and fatigue.