addiction for Internet and Online Gambling debate continuesJanuary 3, 2007, 10:04 pm (10 years ago)
The 2005 study on Internet addiction carried out by Stanford University researchers achieved an astonishing amount of mainstream media coverage throughout 2006 for a relatively small sample survey, indicating a fascination with the link between *Internet* and *addiction* also including Online Gambling.
Now a December 2006 study by Stanford has been released by CNS Spectrums, the monthly international journal of neuropsychiatry to add new findings to the issue.
Reporting on the study, the Washington Post, commented that concern about excessive internet use - variously termed problematic internet use, internet addiction, pathological internet use, compulsive internet use and computer addiction in some quarters, and vigorously dismissed as a fad illness in others - isn't new.
As far back as 1995, articles in medical journals and the establishment of a Pennsylvania treatment centre for overusers generated interest in the subject, the journal reports, adding that there's still no consensus on how much time online constitutes too much or whether addiction is possible.
Internet users average about three hours online each day, according to the 2005 Stanford report, and the CNS Spectrums-commissioned assessment takes a closer look in the interest of improving relevant neuropsychiatric information.
"There's no question that there are people who are seriously in trouble because of the fact that they're overdoing their internet involvement," said Ivan Goldberg, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York.
Dr Goldberg calls the problem a disorder rather than a true addiction, which Merriam-Webster's medical dictionary defines as a "compulsive physiological need for, and use of, a habit-forming substance".
Jonathan Bishop, a researcher in Wales specialising in online communities, is more non-believers. "The internet is an environment," he said. "You can't be addicted to the environment."
Dr Bishop, who has had several articles published on the topic, describes the problem as simply a matter of priorities, which can be solved by encouraging people to pursue other life goals and plans in place of time spent online.
The new CNS Spectrums study was based on results of a nationwide telephone survey of more than 2500 adults.
Like the 2005 survey, this one was conducted by Stanford University researchers. About 6 percent of respondents reported that "their relationships suffered as a result of excessive internet use". About 9 percent attempted to conceal "non-essential internet use" and nearly 4 percent reported feeling "preoccupied by the internet when offline".
About 8 percent said they used the net as a way to escape problems and almost 14 percent reported they "found it hard to stay away from the internet for several days at a time".
No single online activity was to blame for excessive use, he said. "They're online in chat rooms, checking email every two minutes, blogs. It really runs the gamut. (The problem is) not limited to porn or gambling websites."
In the 2005 survey, conducted by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, single people and younger people were more likely to use the internet than others. Survey participants reported that an hour spent online reduced face time with family members by nearly 24 minutes; an hour on the internet reduced sleep time by about 12 minutes.
Gambling could be very addictive sometimes, you got to be careful.
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