Internet addiction

Table of contents.


What is Internet addiction?

What causes IAD?

Types of Internet addiction

Symptoms of IAD

Prevalence of Internet Addiction

How to diagnose the disorder?

Internet Addiction and official medicine


My sociological survey and its results.





Nowadays the Internet becomes more and more popular. Most traditional communication media including telephone, music, film, and television are being reshaped or redefined by the Internet. Newspapers, books and other print publishing are adapting to Web site technology, or are reshaped into blogging and web feeds. The Internet has enabled and accelerated new forms of human interactions through instant messaging, Internet forums, and social networking. Online shopping is used by customers and major retail outlets very actively. Statistics of the Internet usage shows tremendous growth. But some people spend too much time in front of the screen of the computer. Virtual live supersedes the real one. A few years ago I also had some difficulties with using Internet. That’s why I’ve decided to consider this problem in details.

The theme of my project is topical because:

The amount of the Internet users grows really fast.

Internet addiction influences on people’s mind.

This disorder isn’t studied in our country.

How does the Internet impact on people’s mind? What is Internet addiction? Does it exist or it’s just a myth? How can we treat it? Is this problem widespread in the modern world?

I’ll try to answer all these questions in my project.

What is Internet addiction?

Human being can be addicted to different things like the using of food, the drinking of alcohol, the purchasing of material things and etc. But in this project we will research Internet addiction. First of all, let’s see what that is.

Internet addiction, or formally Internet addiction disorder (IAD), or, more broadly, Internet overuse, problematic computer use or pathological computer use, is excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. Nowadays IAD doesn’t include in DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders), which is developed and published by American Psychiatric Association, as a formal diagnosis.

IAD was originally proposed as a disorder by Ivan Goldberg, M.D., in 1995. He took pathological gambling as diagnosed DSM-IV as his model for the description.

Research on Internet addiction originated in the US by Dr. Kimberly Young . In 1994 she developed the Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire (IADQ) to diagnose the disorder.

In 1996, she presented the first paper on the topic at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference held in Toronto entitled, “Internet Addiction: The Emergence of a New Disorder”. In 1997 the Pathological Internet Use (PIU) was designated officially recognized disorder. Since then, studies have documented Internet addiction in a growing number of countries such as Italy, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Reports also indicate that Internet addiction has become a serious public health concern in China, Korea, and Taiwan.

There’s been more and more scientific research devoted to understanding what IUD is, how it works neurologically, and how we can treat it. Research has shown that people with internet addiction have demonstrable changes in their brains – both in the connections between cells and in the brain areas that control attention, executive control, and emotion processing. Most intriguing is the fact that some of these changes are what you see happening in the brains of people addicted to cocaine, heroine, special K, and other substances.

And other research has found that people who are hooked on the internet have changes in how the brain’s dopamine system operates – dopamine is generally credited for allowing us to experience pleasure and reward. Some studies have found that people with internet addiction have fewer dopamine receptors in certain areas of the brain, and others have suggested additional ways in which dopamine function might be impaired. And very recent studies have suggested how certain genetic variations might be involved in internet addiction.

What causes IAD?

Analysis on Internet Addiction a Korean study into the disorder, pathological use of the internet results in negative life consequences such as job loss, marriage breakdown, financial debt, and academic failure. 70% of internet users in Korea are reported to play online games, 18% of which are diagnosed as game addicts. The authors of the article conducted a study utilizing Kimberly Young’s questionnaire. The study showed that the majority of those who met the requirements of Internet Addiction Disorder suffered from interpersonal difficulties and stress and that those addicted to online games specifically responded that they hoped to avoid reality.

Dr. Kimberly S. Young states that 52% of the respondents to her own study said that they were following recovery programs for other addictions. These included alcoholism, chemical dependency, compulsive gambling, or chronic overeating. These participants could see the same excessive behaviour, the need for a crutch to help them relax, in their use of the Internet that they had exhibited in prior addictions. Though they believed that Internet addiction was not as serious as alcoholism, they still felt disheartened that a new addiction had substituted for the old one.

Although any one of us can become addicted, some trends do exist. Some people are drawn to a “faceless community,” one where a person can enter into multiple cyber-relationships with anonymity and create one or multiple new on-line personas.

Gender does seem to influence the types of applications and underlying reasons for Internet addiction. Men tend to seek out power, status, dominance, gravitating more toward the sources of information glut, aggressive interactive games. Women seek out supportive friendships, romantic partners, and prefer anonymous communication in which to hide their appearance. It seems to be a natural conclusion that attributes of gender played out in Cyberspace parallel the stereotypes men and women have in our society.

Some people become addicted to the Internet because of the social connections they make online. Some online relationship activity can be useful and healthy, and many people utilize forums for advice or chats for relaxation, but when a person has many close online friends and no one to count on in the real world, problems can develop.

Some who are addicted to online relationships may even create pretend personalities or personas of themselves. This is actually a dangerous practice because often the people who create these fake lives are already low on self-esteem or desperately seeking the approval of others. Instead of seeking real help, say from a counselor, these individuals just re-make themselves online, while changing nothing about their real offline lives. This can lead to increased symptoms of depression and feelings of inadequacy.

Statistics distributes network services by frequency of Internet addiction:

Chat rooms – 37%

Multiplayer games – 28%

Teleconferences online – 15%

Email – 13%

Web sites- 7 %

Types of Internet addiction

Internet Addiction is a broad term covering a wide-variety of behaviors and impulse control problems. It is important to understand that there are at least four specific types of Internet addiction:

Cyber-relationship Addiction (online friendships made in chat rooms or newsgroups that replace real-life friends and family).

Net Compulsions (compulsive online gambling, online auction addiction, and obsessive online trading.)

Information Overload (compulsive web surfing or database searches).

Computer Addiction (obsessive computer game-playing or to programming aspects of computer science, mostly a problem among men, children, and teenagers).

Symptoms of IAD

Psychological symptoms include: • Failed attempts to control behavior• Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities• Neglecting friends and family• Neglecting sleep to stay online• Being dishonest with others• Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of online behavior• Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome • Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities

Many persons who attempt to quit their Internet use experience withdrawal including: anger, depression, relief, mood swings, anxiety, fear, irritability, sadness, loneliness, boredom, restlessness, procrastination, and upset stomach. 

Physical symptoms include:

Severe headache

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Dry eyes

Not regular eating

Sleep disturbance

Prevalence of Internet Addiction

Data from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), as of January 16 2012 showed that over 513 million Chinese are now connected online, which is 55.4% of the «netizen» population in Asia, and 23.2% of the similar population in the world.The China Communist Youth League claimed in 2007 that over 17% of Chinese citizens between 13 and 17 were addicted to the Internet.

Public concern, interest in, and the study of, internet over use can be attributed to the fact that it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between the online and offline worlds. The Internet has tremendous potential to affect the emotions of humans and in turn, alter our self-perception and anxiety levels.

Internet Addiction Statistics

In a Chinese study, teens classified as highly addicted to the internet were twice as likely to also display self-injurious behavior. (2010)

1.5% – 3.5% of German teens show signs of internet addiction or excessive use. Among these adolescents, internet addiction is correlated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and lower school achievement. (2010)

The prevalence rate of internet addiction for studies published in North America and Europe ranges from 1.5% to 8.2%.(2010)

In 2005, just 9 — 15 million people in the United States used the internet every day. Every three months the rate of use was increasing by 25%.(2005)

Internet users in Greece have an internet addiction prevalence rate of 8.2%. Most internet addicts are males who play online games and access internet cafés. (2008)

96% of teenagers in China use IM and 10% can be classified as IM addicts. (IM=Instant Messengers) (2009)

41% of self-selected online gamers play video games to escape and 7% are classified as being at risk of developing a psychological and behavioral dependence on online computer games. (2009)

1% of Norwegians are addicted to the internet. An additional 5% are at risk of developing internet addiction. The highest rate of addiction is in the 16-29 year old group (4% addicted, 19% at risk).(2008)

11% of South Korean students are considered to be at risk for internet addiction.(2008)

The prevalence of problematic internet use among South African technology workers is 4% (compared to 2% of a control group of non-IT workers).

7% of Chinese elementary and middle school students suffer from internet addiction. The rate is higher in males (10%) than in females (4%). The rate is higher for rural students (8%) than for city students (5%). (2010)

How to diagnose the disorder?

The Internet Addiction Test (IAT) is the first validated instrument to assess Internet addiction. Studies have found that the IAT is a reliable measure that covers the key characteristics of pathological online use. The test measures the extent of a client’s involvement with the computer and classifies the addictive behavior in terms of mild, moderate, and severe impairment. The IAT can be utilized in outpatient and inpatient settings and adapted accordingly to fit the needs of the clinical setting. Furthermore, beyond validation in English, the IAT has also been validated in Italy and France making it the first global psychometric measure.

The test consists of twenty questions with the responses graded out of 5, which produces a score from 0 to 100

Dr. Kimberly Young also developed the Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire (IADQ) to diagnose the disorder. Meeting five of the following symptoms were considered necessary to be diagnosed.1. Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?2. Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?3. Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?4. Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use? 5. Do you stay online longer than originally intended?6. Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?7. Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?8. Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?

There are a lot of the others sites where everybody could find different online tests on this theme.

Internet Addiction and official medicine

IAD is really widespread all over the world. There are a lot of opinions in different countries about it.

In China, Internet addiction is a major problem as, close to around 15% of youngsters are said to be suffering from this condition. Families in the People’s Republic of China have turned to unlicensed training camps that offer to «wean» their children, often in their teens, from overuse of the Internet. The training camps have been associated with the death of at least one youth.

Studies conducted in Hong Kong have found that around 40% the young population was addicted to the Internet and the problem was on an increase every year.

Tao Ran, who set up China’s first internet addiction clinic at the Military General Hospital in Beijing, told: ‘Eighty per cent of addicts can be cured with treatment, which usually lasts about three months.’ Dr Tao wants the country to designate hospital psychiatric units specifically to treat such cases.

Beijing’s Health Ministry is expected to adopt a new manual on internet addiction next year, which will recognise the condition as similar to compulsive gambling or alcoholism.

According to Chinese estimates, about 10 per cent of young users — or four million people — suffer from addiction and of those about 70 per cent are male.

The condition is often a symptom of deeper psychological problems, according to Dr Tao, and all child addicts have behavioural problems, which are then made worse by their addiction.

Dr Tao’s clinic treats patients who may also suffer from depression, fear and an unwillingness to interact with others.

Many have sleep disorders, stop communicating with family or friends, and spend their days glued to a computer screen, in chat rooms or playing violent games.

During the therapy, Mr. Tao, who built his career on treating heroin addicts, is said to offer addicts counselling, military discipline, hypnosis and mild electro-shock therapy to help them reform. Unlike drugs, the internet does not create dependency, and Dr Tao places his success rate of curing patients at about 70 per cent.

A lot of other countries such as Taiwan, Korea and etc take part in this research too.

In Finland internet addicts delay from service in army because of IAD.


Since Internet addiction disorder is a relatively new phenomenon, there is little research on the effectiveness of treatment procedures. Some professionals advocate abstinence from the Internet. Others argue that it may be unrealistic to have a person completely end all Internet use. One might suspect that treatment won’t be straightforward, since most of us have to use the internet at some level (or even a lot) throughout the day. In this way, it’s a bit like food addiction, which they say is the hardest to treat, since you can’t just quit the substance, you have to actually learn how to manage it. And for many people, managing is harder than quitting.

Learning how to use the Internet in moderation is often the main objective in therapy. Many of the procedures that have been used to treat Internet addiction have been modeled after other addiction treatment programs and support groups.

If a person’s Internet addiction disorder has a biological dimension, then such medication as an antidepressant or anti-anxiety drug may help them with these aspects of the addiction. Psychological interventions may include such approaches as changing the environment to alter associations that have been made with Internet use, or decrease the reinforcement received from excessive Internet use. Psychological interventions may also help the person identify thoughts and feelings that trigger their use of the Internet. Interpersonal interventions may include such approaches as social skills training in communication skills. Family and couple therapy may be indicated if the user is turning to the Internet to escape from problems in these areas of life.

Young’s Recovery Strategies are as follows:

Recognize What You’re Missing

Young cites the Top 10 list of most commonly mentioned activities that suffer because of excessive Internet use:

Time with partner or family.

Daily chores. Sleep.

Watching TV.

Time with friends.

Exercise. Hobbies. Social events

Assess Your On-line Time

Keeping an actual log for a typical week on the Internet helps individuals to see the real extent and direction of their time use. This exercise makes it difficult for individuals to deny their involvement on-line.

Chat rooms. How many hours spent per week? List all the different chat rooms you visit.

Interactive games. How many hours? Name the different games you play.

E-mail. How many hours? Track how many e-mail messages you send and receive each day.

Newsgroups. How many hours? List the different groups you participate in.

World Wide Web. How many hours? Identify your favorite Web site subjects.

Other Internet usage. Are there additional applications you’ve

Discovered on the Internet? Name them and similarly total your hours spent per week on each one.

Use Time-Management Techniques

Cultivate an alternative activity. Think of a hobby or activity that you have always wanted to try and commit to doing it in place of some of the hours spent currently on the Net. The more fun things you have in your life every day, the less you will miss the constant Internet buzz and give in to the craving to go back to it.

Identify your usage pattern. What days of the week do you typically log on-line? What time of day do you usually begin? How long do you stay on during a typical session? Where do you usually use the computer? To begin to shake the habit, practice the opposite.

Find external stoppers. Use the concrete things you need to do and places you need to go as prompters to remind you when to log off the Internet, and schedule your time on-line just before them. If this is not effective because you ignore them, use a real alarm clock to be set when you need to end the session. Keep it a few steps from the computer so you have to get up to shut it off.

Incorporate planned Internet time into your weekly schedule. Scale your hours down intentionally by setting into your schedule specific starting and stopping times. Set a reasonable goal, perhaps 20 hours a week on-line if you currently devote 40 hours.

Find Support in the Real World

Frequently Internet addicts have increasingly cut themselves off from their family, friends, social activities and hobby activities that they used to enjoy.

My sociological survey and its results.

In my research, I’ve surveyed my friends from 14 to 18 years old, trying to identify internet addicted. I created a questionnaire and published it on one of the web sites. More than 40 people have answered my questions. I offered respondents to answer 12 questions, based on Dr. Kimberly Young’s questionnaire. The results of this survey you can see in the table. Also I’ve made diagrams.

According to my survey, 50% of the respondents are usual users of the Internet and don’t have the addiction.

About 45% of the respondents have difficulties with overuse of the Internet often or rarely. And 5% of them experience excessive influence of Internet on their lives, what can be the first stage of Internet addiction.


After the report I made some conclusions:

Internet Addiction exists, what is proved by a lot of researchers in different countries.

You can dispose of this disorder with the help of the doctor or by yourself.

Everybody should have their own attitude to this problem. And, the position of the government and society play a big role in this process.


Website of the counseling centre of Texas State University

Website of Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery

Website of Dr. Kimberly Young


The list of questions.

The table with the results of the survey.

Analysis of each question’s results.