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Internet Addiction Disorder: Is it Real?

For this weeks assignment I dissected an article on Wikipedia about Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) which is also known as, “problematic internet use (PIU) or compulsive internet use (CIU)." The debate surrounding the reality and relevance of this disorder is made clear right out of the gate, since in most Wikipedia articles the first information presented is a clear definition of the topic the article aims to explain in depth. This was not the case in this article and it goes on to explain many of the debates surrounding the un-officiated disorder.

Perhaps the clearest indicator of the debate surrounding IAD is the statement made in the section entitled, “Disputed Disorder: DSM,” that IAD is not listed in the DSM manual, which is used as a diagnostic tool by psychiatrists. The contributors then continue to lay out different studies produced to study the disorder, its symptoms and ultimately available therapies.

Something that really struck me about the article was the emphasis on the comorbidity of IAD with other problems and addictions such as addictions to gambling and sex, learning differences that affect social behaviors, and depression. One of the big questions this raised for me was, is this truly then an addiction to the Internet, or is the reliance on the internet a symptom of a larger problem? Because the Internet can be viewed as its own community and environment, would it be accurate to say that addiction to the Internet doesn’t exist, but rather addiction to these other behaviors that are encouraged by the accessibility to the Internet, such as sex and gambling?

It seems that by accessibility, the Internet perpetuates participation in behaviorally addictive activities, but mostly to those who seek those behaviors initially. The debate in this issue is most deeply rooted in a fundamental which came first question. Had these people not found online gambling would they have found gambling in some other way? Though this article does not directly discuss accessibility as a perpetuating factor, it does discuss if IAD is real or just symptomatic, and also weather it should be considered an addiction, a behavioral disorder, or a compulsive disorder.

In my opinion IAD possesses elements of all these issues. The withdrawal from the internet and computer screen can cause somatic symptoms indicating addiction, spending excessive amounts of time online can detract from the development of social skill sets fitting it into a behavioral category, and lastly if one goes multiple hours without leaving the computer that person exhibits compulsive behavior as well. I don’t think that the question should be does this exist, it should be how does it exist and what framework can we use to understand what it can do to our developing minds.

In the talk section, they are discussing the credibility of this article, which says that IAD will be receiving official recognition as a mental disorder this year.

Additionally, the relevance of other media based addictions to this particular article—such as cyber sex and porn addiction—are also being addressed. The discussion around these issues is very similar to that of IAD it’s self: a matter of existence.

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#1 POSTED BY Madeline Hanna Robles, 03/02 2:32 PM

I think you raise a really good point about IAD, that it is really a facilitator to addiction rather than the primary problem. I'm curious about what other sites have to say about it's legitimacy and whether it's really just a side effect of other disorders such as depression or agoraphobia.

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