Internet addiction is a growing problem worldwide. The Korean government has declared Internet addiction a public health crisis, and both the Chinese and Korean governments have setup mandatory boot camps to wean internet-addicted citizens back into the offline world. See extensive Wired magazine article from 2010 where Internet Addiction is referred to as "one of China’s most feared public health hazards". Internet Addiction is a problem that is not going away, and the Chinese government continues to operate "Boot Camps" treating Internet Addiction. There are "Internet fasting camps" in Japan designed to ween children away from their addiction to the online world. WebJunkie, an interesting documentary released at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, further explores the problem in China. Internet Addiction is closely related to Internet Pornography Addiction and Internet Gaming Disorder.
New stories and issues regarding Internet Addiction are popping up regularly. I'll try to post some of the more interesting one's below:
- News: Chinese teen chops hand off to ‘cure’ internet addiction -
- PBS Front/Line special on Internet Addiction -
- Easy to read slideshow about Internet Addiction -
- 2014 Pew Research study about Couples, the Internet, and Social Media - not exactly addiction related, but interesting nonetheless to see how chronic use of the internet can impact our relationships.
My Doctoral Project/Dissertation was on the topic of Internet Addiction and the DSM-5. The paper includes several hundred academic articles on this and related topics. In the conclusion of the paper, I offer several speculations as to why the diagnosis has not yet been accepted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
Internet Gaming Disorder
Internet Gaming Disorder is the first Internet-related problem recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Although not yet fully recognized as a "full disorder", Internet Gaming Disorder is listed in the DSM-5 as a "Condition for Further Study". This provides legitimacy to the condition, and facilitates grant money to researchers seeking to further understand the problem. Unfortunately, many people confuse Internet Addiction with addiction to gaming, although leading experts in the field argue that Internet Addiction Disorder and Internet Gaming Disorder are NOT the same.
Although the concept may seem foreign, or even silly, some individuals struggling with the disorder have suffered fatal consequences. For example:
- In 2005, a 28-yr-old South Korean man collapsed and died of cardiac arrest after a 50-HOUR gaming marathon.
- In 2006, a 13-yr-old boy jumped from a 26th story window after playing WoW for 36 hours.
- In 2010, a Korean couple let their 3-month-old daughter starve to death while they engaged in their gaming addiction. The horrible irony in this particular case was that they were playing was based on their tending to and raising a virtual baby...
- In 2014, a 22-yr-old in Korea let his 28-month-old boy starve to death while he engaged in his gaming disorder. He went to an Internet cafe and left the child home alone for 10 days while playing.
It may seem that the problem is exclusive to Asian countries, but it is not. While the problem of Internet Addiction is being experienced more acutely in countries like China, Japan, and South Korea, we westerners are not impervious to experiencing these worst-case-scenarios:
- In 2009, a 17-yr-old boy shot and killed his mother when she took away his Halo 3 game.
- In 2011, a 20-yr-old in England died from a blood-clot in his lungs after playing his Xbox for 12-hours.