Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Internet Addiction Urban Legend

This post aims at addressing the concept of Internet addiction. As a psychiatrist, I'm baffled to read articles written by fellow psychiatrists (usually the ones that have never used a computer in their entire life) emphasizing the dangers of Internet addiction.

To me, they just don't get it. The Internet is a medium. There is no such thing as being addicted to it. You can certainly be addicted to some online games or say, online porn. But, to me, talking about Internet addiction is, simply put, the proof that the person talking don't know what they're talking about. Many psychiatrists have applied the DSM-IV ("Psychiatry Bible") addiction criteria to the Internet to give birth to the concept of "Internet addiction". To me, it is as stupid as writing about breathing addiction (aren't we all addicted to breathing air? We can't spend a single day without doing it) or feeding addiction (we all feel the urge to eat whenever we've been deprived of food for a few hours...). The same could apply to "reading addiction".

Once again, the Internet is a medium. You can do thousands of different things online. Spending hours in front of a computer doesn't mean that you're addicted to doing the same thing as you can do so many different things on the Internet. People, specially mental health professionals, need to understand this paradigm shift.

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