Date: 20 Oct 2010

When Is It Too Much? Excessive Internet Use and Addictive Behavior

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Abstract

As technology is becoming central in our lives, we are seeing cases of extreme use and dependence on these newer tools. Although we find such excessive Internet use among all age groups, it is especially prevalent among adolescents and emerging adults and this chapter focuses on such “addictive behavior” on the Internet. An important issue that we consider is whether it is even appropriate to use the term “addiction” in the context of Internet users. Next, we describe what addictive behavior on the Internet entails along with information about the prevalence of addictive behavior among adolescents. Then we discuss the symptoms considered to be red flags for Internet-related addictive behavior and describe the personal and social context of addictive behavior on the Internet. We discuss separately four areas of online addictions: online gaming, online relationships (communication), virtual sexual behavior, and online gambling. Finally, we describe the therapeutic approaches used to treat addictive behavior on the Internet.