“Internet addicts” have been found top suffer from similar withdrawal symptoms to those of drug misusers, a new study carried out by researchers at Swansea and Milan Universities shows.
The research found that people who use the internet for long hours experience a higher rate of “negative moods” after they stopped surfing. To get rid of these unhappy feelings many starting surfing the web again, causing a vicious circle.
Professor Phil Reed, from Swansea University’s Psychology department, and was part of the research team, said in a press release: “Although we do not know exactly what internet addiction is, our results show that around half of the young people we studied spend so much time on the net that it has negative consequences for the rest of their lives.
“These initial results, and related studies of brain function, suggest that there are some nasty surprises lurking on the net for people’s wellbeing.”
The study is the first to investigate the immediate negative psychological effects of internet use.
“These results corroborate previous reports regarding the psychological characteristics and traits of Internet users, but go beyond those findings to show the immediate effect of the Internet on the mood of those who are addicted,” added Professor Reed.
Internet addiction is a worldwide phenomenon among the young in many countries. In China, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Health, State Internet Information Office and 15 other government departments have recently announced a joint project aimed at preventing and controlling online game addiction among juveniles in the country.
A large amount of Chinese teenagers spend lots of time on online games, some of which are unhealthy to their growth, and become one of the factors to trigger juvenile delinquency. Becoming a noticeable social issue in China.
Another problem is the excessive reliance on social networking among youths. Many people rely too heavily on smart phones to check and update their Facebook, Twitter, or Weibo accounts.
“Relying too much on mobile phones is a kind of addiction, which encourages people’s laziness.” Luo Jiaojiang, a professor of social psychology at Wuhan University, China, said, “People tend to be less concentrated on their work and studies now. The long-time reliance is also associated with depression and shows a high level of autism traits in high internet users.”
Internet addiction disorder (IAD), or, more broadly, internet overuse, originally proposed by Ivan Goldberg, M.D., in 1995, is excessive computer use that interferes with daily life.
“That’s the first step in it becoming a true disorder in its own right,” Professor Reed recently said in TIME magazine. However, Reed cautions that any of the study’s results relating to “internet addiction” could also be symptoms of other potentially addictive online activities: if someone is addicted to gambling, for example, then they might be using the internet excessively to access gambling sites. But while Reed acknowledges that Internet addiction may be secondary, “my own view is we’re probably looking at a new disorder here.”
Online activities such as compulsive gambling, internet shopping, playing computer games, watching a staggering amount of internet videos or movies, online social network, anything that interferes with normal life, can be troublesome.
Kimberly Young, a psychologist and world expert on internet addiction disorder and online behaviour, describes it as an emergence of a new clinical disorder.
There are rehab clinics that deal specifically with the problem of internet addiction, although it’s not currently recognized as a psychiatric disorder. The disease is treated in Wales at the North Wales Internet Addiction Treatment Program in Pennsylvania, North Wales, offered by Life Management, a counselling firm.
“The key point to tickle this problem is to develop the willpower of self-control, not be the slaves of temptations.” Luo suggests.