Internet Addiction classified as a clinical disorder

Do you constantly yearn to go online?

Do you feel agitated and distressed when you don’t go online?

Do you experience difficulty in concentrating or getting to sleep? 

If you display these symptoms amongst others, and you are online more than six hours a day, then according to a new manual on Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), you would be diagnosed as a ‘Net addict’.

The IAD which could soon be adopted by China could be seen as a form of help for China’s Net addicts as net addiction becomes diagnosed as a real problem. China is probably the first country to classify Internet addiction as a clinical disorder. According to state media, the authorities are concerned about the increased “compulsive Web use by millions of Chinese”. Dr Tao Ran, who has researched pathological addictions in China, drafted the diagnostic manual with other psychologists in the Military General Hospital of Beijing. They came up with the manual after studying ‘1300 problematic computer users’.

According to another psychologist, Dr Kong Derong, “Web games are the biggest culprit for Internet-related crimes in China, especially World of Warcraft, which has made many young minds unable to tell the real from virtual world”. Hm…one wonders if WOW creators have something to say on that…

Recognising Internet addiction as a disorder just like alcohol or drug addiction could pave the way for more treatment procedures. In fact, China has already started some aggressive measures. It has a started a military-style boot camp, complete with electric-shock therapy  to ‘wean’ younger addicts off their addiction, and it’s also started shutting down some Internet cafes and suspending their licenses as it was concerned that these were facilitating the addiction process. 

It’s still not sure how successful these measures are. However, recent research indicates that “42 per cent of Chinese youngsters polled felt ‘addicted’ to the Web, as compared to 18% in the United States”. Many say that acknowledging your addition is the first step in the treatment process, so it looks like things are looking up for China’s net addicts. 

However, some also this move in a more sinister light, and feel that China’s move to cut down the ‘negative’ influence of the Net, which includes people thinking and acting for themselves, is yet another extension of exercising control.

Also, some wonder, if the manual is adopted by other countries such as Singapore, what the rate of ‘net addiction’ would we get here? Electric-shock therapy, anyone?

Notwithstanding the quibbles over the yardsticks and motivations, Internet addiction is a serious problem, and does warrant serious attention. Perhaps, China’s step here is a way of prodding others to take the problem more seriously and to take some definitive measures to resolve it.

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About blogscapes
An intrepid explorer into the the brave new dimensions of the blogosphere and new media landscape.

7 Responses to Internet Addiction classified as a clinical disorder

  1. Jensen says:

    I guess, whatever word i say in defense of the Internet would be interpreted as self-denial of a probable addiction.

    However, I would still like to try to put my point across, that the internet doesn’t cause people to be addicted. Rather, sometimes I wonder why the people seldom wonder, whether the world has become an increasingly stressful, competitive and yet…. How about this, lets just say that the world is gradually losing its appeal to the vast humanity. Ever wondered why the Internet’s appeal is so powerful? Comparing the real world with the virtual world, why has humanity chosen the latter?

    I’m sure we can feel, see, smell, and experience ourselves physically living in the real world. Yet, why do we crave to dive into the world of virtuality, of masked identities and of hidden motives?

    Do we not crave to have the touch? To be able to feel and smell and fully utilize the 5 senses of the human body? So why then, does the Internet appeal to us so greatly?

    Regarding China’s movements to adopt the policy of regarding Internet addiction as a form of clinical disorder, then in my opinion, she should tread on this field cautiously. Any extreme moves like sending an addict to jail or forcing the addict into a boot camp with pseudo-torture “therapies” could yield disasterous consequences.

    Afterall, the New Media is so powerful that treatments as such could easily be spread and result in possible retaliations in the form of demonstrations, boycotts and in the worst case, staging a coup.

    Instead, I thought China should attempt to change the real world’s appeal by adding more activities for her citizens. For example, by further promoting sports, China could unearth even more sports talents. It is cruicial to provide easy access to facilities and equipments, as well as appropriate trainers and coaches.

    In other words, to win this battle against the Internet, the governments and authorities around the world should make a livelier society as their target, and encourage their citizens to step out of their house and take part in outdoor activities. Meanwhile, they can distribute booklets teaching the various ways to avoid possible over-usage of the Internet as well as other guidelines to lead a healthy lifestyle.

  2. blogscapes says:

    The appeal of the Internet and virtual worlds may outshine the real world. I mean, it’s hard to beat the fantasy that is created in online worlds.

    Nevertheless, there’s still hope as I it’s the human factor, the real relationships that will keep people connected. Thus, as much as society is going online, there’s greater pressure and need to cultivate real human relationships as well.

  3. 2ton says:

    Whoops…scary thought! But I think one reason that the internet world is such a draw is because one can exert their own control over their internet life. IRL, there is the often the feeling that you are just barely treading water, barely in control, while in the computer world, you can control the boat…even by turning it off. Controlling something can make you feel good, feel safer. For me, I love the connecting with people all over the world, although it’s sort of sad that you cannot actually meet so many of the people you want to meet, it’s a way to learn both fact and fiction, (you do need to figure out which is which–more learning!) and learning is always a good thing, and besides, it’s just plain old fun! So, IMO, yes the internet can become an addiction, and you do need to be able to keep control and not let it take over your real life. But I don’t think that makes it a clinical addiction in most cases (of course, there is always that tiny percentage that fits that discription). It’s just that some people are weak and cannot deny themselves what they want, when they want it, like a spoiled child. If it wasn’t the computer, it would be something else. I’m not thinking that it is a government’s role to get into the mode of regulating this.

  4. blogscapes says:

    You’re right, 2ton, many can better control their online environments, and in a way, the online world does offer new possibilities that the constraints of the real world can’t. And some get so engrossed in the virtual world they can’t seem to extricate themselves and it controls them instead.

    As online environments get more powerful, I think there is greater need to learn to keep that balance between virtual-ity and reality, and yes, I do agree that government intervention may not be the way to go, unless as last resort in extreme cases.

  5. Johanna says:

    I think it is important for parents to limit the amount of time their children spend on the Internet. If I did not limit my kid’s screen time, he would spend all his free time surfing the Internet. But to limit kid’s time while you are at work is not an easy task. Thanks to my friend’s advice I tried parental control software software Ez Internet Timer: http://www.internettimer.net/
    With the help of this tool I can restrict and set times when the computer can be accessed and my son have no choice than to accept the rules.

  6. Nichollas says:

    It does seem to be a program worth considering. Thank you Johanna for the Ez Internet Timer. That is exactly what I was looking for a long time. I have Windows Vista 64 bit and not too many programs support it. This one works just perfect. If my 13 year old guru didn’t break it during it 2 weeks of trial, I will buy it. Thank you again!

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