Is internet addiction a useful concept?

Abstract

This column examines some of the most important issues surrounding Internet addiction and proposes an alternative conceptualization for it. The Internet is utilized by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, with its numerous benefits only leading to an increase in the number of users. But there is a dark side to the Internet, and one of the negative consequences of the vast potentials of the Internet has been its excessive and uncontrollable use, often referred to as Internet addiction. As a concept, Internet addiction faces two types of challenges. The first one is about it being an addiction. The second refers to the Internet as a medium to which a person is presumably addicted. Addiction does not appear as a diagnosis in the diagnostic and classification systems such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-IV. The diagnostic concept most closely related to addiction has been dependence, which has been linked with psychotropic substance use. It was pathological gambling as a behavioral addiction that served as the model for the concept of Internet addiction. However, this was inappropriate because of the differences between the two that were either neglected or overlooked. Furthermore, behavioral addiction itself is a problematic construct, as it implies that any behavior that is rewarding can be addictive. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

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