An increasing number of research papers have been published recently referring to "Internet Addiction Disorder" and research in the area of addiction suggests that this disorder involving tolerance; withdrawal symptoms; affective disturbances; and interruption of social relationships, is a presenting problem that is becoming more common in society as on-line usage increases by the day.
A year or so ago I would have "phooey'd" this idea of addiction as complete nonsense, but I couldn't help but wonder as I drove back from home this morning - having had to pop back as I realised I forgot to turn the iron off, forgot my wallet to re-park, and having forgot to tell my colleagues that someone was popping in for a quick meeting - that I have become over reliant on the Internet, and this my friends is why my brain no longer functions properly. I'm not sure Andy or the insurance companies would accept this reasoning had the house burnt down due to my forgetfulness but there may be some truth in it.
I get all my information these days from the internet - if someone asks a question I don't know the answer to, or if I want to find something out quickly - google is my friend. Because of my computer I no longer have to think for myself, it can tell me when to wake up, what music i'd like to listen to, what I have to do for the day. It conveniently drops emails into my inbox telling me what book I'd like to read next or that there's a discount going at my favorite clothes shop - my little alerts for new mails pop up every few minutes stopping me from having to concentrate and work my little brain for too long.
I don't know about having a "disorder" as such but certain parts of my once normal functioning brain have definitely gone downhill with the rise of the tinterweb.
So, here's the criteria - let's see if you're addicted, of the following three or more criteria must be present at any time during a twelve month period:
1. Tolerance: This refers to the need for increasing amounts of time on the Internet to achieve satisfaction and/or significantly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of time on the Internet.
2. Two or more withdrawal symptoms developing within days to one month after reduction of Internet use or cessation of Internet use (i.e., quitting cold turkey) , and these must cause distress or impair social, personal or occupational functioning. These include: psychomotor agitation, i.e. trembling, tremors; anxiety; obsessive thinking about what is happening on the Internet; fantasies or dreams about the Internet; voluntary or involuntary typing movements of the fingers.
3. Use of the Internet is engaged in to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
4. The Internet is often accessed more often, or for longer periods of time than was intended.
5. A significant amount of time is spent in activities related to Internet use ( e.g., Internet books, trying out new World Wide Web browsers, researching Internet vendors, etc.).
6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of Internet use.
7. The individual risks the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of excessive use of the Internet.