The first U.S. rehab center for Internet addiction has opened its doors last month near Seattle, Washington. The 45-day treatment, which includes a forced break from Internet use in addition to re-enforcing social skills and other interventions, costs 14,000 dollars.
The question is, do we really need such a center? Does Internet addiction exist?
While Internet Addiction Disorder is not currently included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), many argue that addictions to the Web do exist.
Addicts describe symptoms that are very similar to other addictions, such as an overwhelming impulse to use the Internet, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using it, continually increasing the amount of Internet use while withdrawing from other activities, denying the harmful effects of the behavior and continuing it despite those harmful effects.
In severe cases, Internet addiction can lead to the loss of a job or marriage, to car accidents for those who can’t stop texting while driving, or even to death – some people have died after playing video games for days without a break because of a blood clot associated with being sedentary.
Researchers have been warning us for a long time now that obsessive internet use poses risk of isolation and depression, so even if excessive Internet use does not become an addiction, it could still be harmful.
It’s interesting to note that the Chinese government recognizes Internet addiction and treats it harshly. I’m sure the posh American rehab center is heaven compared with China’s treatment centers for Internet addiction, although the harsh Chinese methods might prove to be far more effective long-term than the gentle American methods.
What do you think? Do you think Internet Addiction exists? Do you know anyone in real life who might be suffering from it? Do you think milder forms of excessive Internet use (which most us professional bloggers are probably guilty of!) can be harmful as well?
Update: A new study says that Internet addiction does exist and is linked to ADHD and depression in teens.