Occasionally in the news, or those “fantastic” current affairs programs, there is talk of Internet addiction. Psychologists have a name for this, it is IAD (Internet Addication Disorder). Could this be an actuality, or is it just more over-diagnosis from psychologists with nothing better to do? At least there is probably some truth to it; unlike the great Wind Turbine Syndrome.
My argument against this is that I don’t believe anyone actually becomes addicted to the Internet but they become addicted to something the Internet provides them*. There are lots of studies that have looked into this and have found similarities between Internet addiction and gambling addiction. These similarities tend to be there because they are looking at an addiction that does not involve an intoxicant. I believe that gambling addiction differs by having a possible end financial benefit. I don’t see how Internet addiction can be compared to this.
It seems (from the abstracts, not the whole papers) with a lot of these studies they are aiming at social networking addictions. Now, I know that I will possibly fall into this category. I enjoy Facebook and Twitter among other things but I have always been “addicted” to these things. You could also say I was addicted to IRC, ICQ, MSN, Myspace, and Last.fm as the technologies changed. I wouldn’t call these an addiction to the Internet; above all else I would call these an innate need to procrastinate.
My addiction to all these technologies is more an addiction to communicating, socialising without boundaries, and information. The addiction to information is the main addiction, but would anyone really call this an addiction? Originally it was looking for information on how to use these technologies to their fullest. I was constantly trying to understand how it all worked and whether I could use it to my advantage. These days I am still doing those things but along with this I am also constantly reading up on things that interest me. In writing up these blogs I will read through scientific papers or at least the abstracts of them, as I can’t afford to purchase a license to be able to view the whole paper.
I’m not sure of this but I think most people that would fit into the diagnosis of IAD would all use the Internet in a similar way. They would use the Internet to socialise with friends and even with strangers. They would use it to research information about subjects that interest them. I would never call this an addiction myself, but then maybe that is because I suffer from IAD. Can I get a disability pension please? Medical cannabis would be nice also. HIT ME UP!
*I understand all addictions could be argued to not be based on the device/intoxicant but what it provides them. Most addictions are for specific gains whereas the Internet has such a huge variety of “highs.”
**No, posting this late at night does not go towards my IAD. I am doing work on a stupid Windows server and filling in time by writing this.