Internet Addiction

The proliferation of Internet usage is widely evident.  Simple to use social media sites like facebook and twitter have hundreds of millions of users around the world. But is the extended amount of time people spend on-line unhealthy?  I’ll be focusing on the header and first three points of this infographic.

The opening makes a bold statement; it insinuates that the net is as powerful as a street drug. This question strikes me as inherently preposterous. Net use can stimulate serotonin levels in the brain, which can alter your mood. This can be a powerful incentive, sure, but not as powerful as an external chemical agent such as PCP or methanphetamines.

The source cited indeed says 1 in 8 Americans have problems that arise from internet over indulgence. The page doesn’t immediately link to a study, but elsewhere on the site there is a pdf file of a study that suggests the ratio is closer to 1 in 10. But at the end of the paper the author admits it’s not a rigorous enough study due to the fact it did not use a random sample of  laboratory test subjects participants.

The header also suggests that it is only Korea that has a 30% addiction rate. The source says that that number includes China and Taiwan. It looks like those two countries were omitted from the Infographic.

The article for point number 1 can be found here. Interestingly, it does not mention Internet addiction specifically as a disorder that the manual is evaluating for future inclusion. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder and schizophrenia are mentioned, not IAD. I suppose it’s possible it may be later reviewed but this article doesn’t support that.

Point number 2 is a collection of symptoms gathered from a few different sources listed at the bottom of the graphic. It is referenced here by a Dr. K Young that internet over indulgence is most similar to gambling and is basically a compulsive disorder. This is specifically mentioned in point 3. It’s an easy point to make since Internet poker is gambling. That’s doubly addicting!

Gaming is also mentioned in point 3.  Gaming garners a cult like following due to the nature of the achievement based game play. This trick seems to addict people because it prolongs the game to obscene durations. Meanwhile the game developer is charging a subscription which increases the perceived negative stigma of addiction.

Next, the infographic mentions pornography which can be addicting by itself. The immediate distribution provided by net access makes downloading preferable to the more time consuming and potentially embarassing chore of going to an adult video store.

My impression of this graphic is that it’s kind of sloppy and the sources cited don’t really support the section I looked over. Perhaps the rest of the graphic fairs better.

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4 responses to “Internet Addiction

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful and citation packed analysis. It seems you’ve been able to find serious flaws in the points being suggested about internet addiction. I wonder what you attribute the sloppiness used in preparing the infographic. Do you think the creator was trying to intentionally mislead or was it a case of not being careful with the research and facts?

    It seems that by placing the term Internet Addiction so prominently in the title of the graphic the suggestion is that it is a recognized disorder. But as you’ve pointed out this is not the case.

    Food for thought when considering all the sorts of facts, figures and statements that are thrown our way.

    But as for Steve and PCP video: awesome. It might be cool to remix the video with a new voice-over claiming that the cops have been called because he’s experiencing some form of Internet withdrawal symptoms – maybe his AOL membership was cancelled.

    • I think the person who made the graphic was just unfocused. I don’t think they were maliciously misappropriating information. There’s some truth to the point they are making. Thanks for the Pixlr demo today btw. Another great internet resource for my future projects! Always happy to be introduced to more freeware.

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