Internet addiction as a Mental Illness

      12 Comments on Internet addiction as a Mental Illness

computer addiction

My entry on Computer Game and Internet Addiction: The Emergence of a New Clinical Disorder caught the interest of a Health Magazine in the Philippines and published a similar article a few months later.

Take a look at the latest findings from American, Canadian and British doctors.

From this article, Recognize Internet addiction as a mental illness, MD urges, compulsive e-mailing and text messaging could soon become classified as an official brain illness.

An editorial in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry says Internet addiction — including “excessive gaming, sexual pre-occupations and e-mail/text messaging” — is a common compulsive-impulsive disorder that should be added to psychiatry’s official guidebook of mental disorders.

British psychiatrists, reporting last year in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, say a “significant minority” — some estimate between five and 10 per cent of online users — are addicted to the Internet, and that while early research suggests most are highly educated, highly introverted males, more recent studies suggest the bulk of the problem is occurring among middle-aged women on home computers.

Computer use becomes problematic when the behavior starts affecting people’s lives. That’s according to addiction therapist John Macdonald, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

Computer users use the internet like they would drugs or alcohol as a way to escape reality, the researchers say. Addicts may turn out to be addicted to everything from the sheer act of typing, to chat rooms, online shopping or three-dimensional, multiplayer games users have described as “heroinware.”

Whenever I am at the malls and pass by internet cafes, I spot kids playing with their peers. Is that harmful? As parents, we want to know the limits of computer use. How can a parent become vigilant?

Research into Internet addiction is in its infancy stage. We naturally wonder how doctors decide when computer use crosses the line from the normal to the pathological.

According to addiction therapist John Macdonald, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, computer use becomes problematic when the behavior starts affecting people’s lives.

For example, is the person pre-occupied with getting, and staying, online? “If they’re not able to engage in it, is it emotionally upsetting for them?

“The real proof in the pudding: is the amount that you do causing any problems in your life?” Mr. Macdonald says.

I believe children can be taught the wise use of the computer as early as 6 years old and that parents should be firm with their discipline towards the welfare of their children’s educational growth.