Internet Addiction: The Repercussions, the Causes, and the Treatment

Internet Addiction: The Repercussions, the Causes, and the Treatment

Shaun Joseph Smyth (Ulster University, UK), Kevin Curran (Ulster University, UK) and Nigel McKelvey (Computer Science Department, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8449-0.ch001

Abstract

Internet addiction (IA) is typically defined as a condition where an individual has lost control of their internet use and proceeds to use the internet excessively to the point where he/she experiences problematic consequences which ultimately have a negative effect on his/her life. The authors examine what constitutes an addiction, the definition of internet addiction, the complications which exist in the various diagnostic methods of successfully diagnosing internet addiction, the criticism some of these diagnostic methods have taken and the effects of excessive internet use by both students and employees. They also highlight those individuals who are of increased risk of developing this condition including positive diagnosis of the addiction and the resultant effects it has on the individual's family life, employment, social life and personal wellbeing, before finally looking at possible methods and treatments that can be employed for treating internet addiction.
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Introduction

The Internet plays an integral part of our modern lives and as advances are continually being made in the world of information Technology (IT), it becomes substantially easier to access. As its uses continually increase, especially among the younger generation (Akin & Iskender, 2011), the internet means that we no longer need to go searching for information but rather information arrives at our homes on a computer screen at the click of a computer key. The Internet provides a wealth of services at our fingertips, including online gaming, shopping, gambling communication with friends, social media sites as well as an abundance of information for research purposes and it enables businesses to carry out operations in the form of Electronic Commerce (e-commerce) (Hersh, 1999; Poon, 2000). These and many other services are all readily available through the very accessible internet which can be accessed without leaving the comfort of our chair at home.

Certain individuals experience an inability to control their Internet use resulting in distressful symptoms of psychological dependence (Brand et al., 2014; Gedam et al., 2016; Jain et al., 2018). The extent to which some Internet users are using this communication medium has come under question creating a stir among the mental health community which has created much discussion among these individuals about the phenomenon known as Internet addiction (Young, 2004). Despite the vast numbers of Internet users which exist the benefits of the internet are reported to far outweigh the opposing consequences which result from extreme use such as internet addiction which reportedly is not yet recognised by the ICD-10 (International classification of Diseases) or the DSM-V which is the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Murali and George, 2007). Internet addiction is referred to in several different ways and the terms: “Internet addiction disorder (IAD),” “Problematic Internet Use (PIU),” “Excessive Internet Use,” “Compulsive Internet Use,” “Pathological Internet Use,” and “Computer Addiction” have all been used to refer to the same notion which is that an individual gets so involved in their online use to such an extent that it leaves other areas of their lives neglected (Griffiths, 1998; Cash et al. 2012; Yan et al. 2014; Li et al. 2014; Nitin et al., 2018); Billieux et al., 2015).

The remainder of this chapter looks at what constitutes an addiction, the definition of internet addiction, the complications which exist in the various diagnostic methods of successfully diagnosing internet addiction, the criticism some of these diagnostic methods have taken and the effects of excessive internet use by both students and employees. This chapter also highlights those individuals who are of increased risk of developing this condition including positive diagnosis of the addiction and the resultant effects it has on the individual’s family life, employment, social life and personal wellbeing, before finally looking at possible methods and treatments that can be employed for treating internet addiction.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Psychopathological Conditions: This refers to the development of conditions which manifest themselves because of a mental or behavioural disorder.

Dysphoric: A feeling of unease, unhappiness or anxiety about oneself as opposed to euphoria which describes a state of extreme happiness.

Diagnosis: This refers to the identification of a disease or illness through an evaluation of the signs and symptoms individual presents with.

Addiction: An addiction is a medical condition which is portrayed by compulsive use in a pleasing stimulus which it may offer despite the long-term negative consequences which it may result in.

Internet: A global system of interconnected computer networks which use internet protocols to link devices worldwide. The internet carries a vast array of information enabling the passage of information through services and applications of the World Wide Web.

Pathological: The behaviour of a person can be described as pathological when he or she behaves in a way that is extreme and unacceptable and displays powerful feelings that they are unable to control.

Reliance: This refers to the placement of one’s dependence or trust in a person or a thing which leads to that individual becoming reliant on that person or thing.

Predisposition: The state of being likely to behave in a certain way or suffer from a disease or condition.

Disorder: A disturbance in body function, structure or both which is inherited or results from development failure from such factors as disease, trauma or poison.

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