- 3.9k Downloads
Internet addiction is characterized by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges or behaviours regarding computer use and internet access that lead to impairment or distress. The condition has attracted increasing attention in the popular media and among researchers, and this attention has paralleled the growth in computer (and Internet) access.
Prevalence estimates vary widely, although a recent random telephone survey of the general US population reported an estimate of 0.3–0.7%.
The disorder occurs worldwide, but mainly in countries where computer access and technology are widespread. Clinical samples and a majority of relevant surveys report a male preponderance. Onset is reported to occur in the late 20s or early 30s age group, and there is often a lag of a decade or more from initial to problematic computer usage.
Internet addiction has been associated with dimensionally measured depression and indicators of social isolation. Psychiatric co-morbidity is common, particularly mood, anxiety, impulse control and substance use disorders. Aetiology is unknown, but probably involves psychological, neurobiological and cultural factors.
There are no evidence-based treatments for internet addiction. Cognitive behavioural approaches may be helpful. There is no proven role for psychotropic medication. Marital and family therapy may help in selected cases, and online self-help books and tapes are available. Lastly, a self-imposed ban on computer use and Internet access may be necessary in some cases.
KeywordsPathological Gambling Escitalopram Internet Addiction Impulse Control Disorder Compulsive Sexual Behaviour
Dr Black has received research support from Shire and Forest Laboratories; speaker’s bureau honoraria from Pfizer; and honoraria for other consulting from Forest Laboratories and Shire. Ms Shaw reports no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to this manuscript. No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review.
- 1.US Census Bureau. Computer and internet use in the United States: 2003. Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau, 2005 Oct 2Google Scholar
- 3.Weizenbaum J. Computer power and human reason. San Francisco (CA): W.H. Freeman, 1976Google Scholar
- 4.Zimbardo PG. The age of indifference. Psychol Today 1980; August: 71–6Google Scholar
- 5.Boden MA. The meeting of man and the machine. In: Jones KP, Taylor H, editors. The design of information systems for human beings. London: Association for Information Management, 1981Google Scholar
- 6.Shallis M. The silicon idol: the micro revolution and its social implications. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984Google Scholar
- 7.Griffiths MD. Internet addiction: fact or fiction? Psychologist 1999; 12: 246–51Google Scholar
- 10.Sussman N. Session with Eric Hollander, MD: interview February 7, 2005, New York City [online]. Available from URL: http://www.primarypsychiatry.com/aspx/article_pf.aspx?.article=260 [Accessed 2007 24 Aug]
- 17.Scherer K. College life on-line: healthy and unhealthy internet use. J College Student Dev 1997; 38: 655–65Google Scholar
- 18.Goldberg I. Internet addiction disorder 1996 [online]. Available from URL: http://www.cog.brown.edu/brochure/people/duchon/humor/internet.addiction.html [Accessed 2007 May 7]
- 19.“Internetomania” sign of psychiatric illness [online]. Available from URL: http://www.personalmd.com/news/al998060503.shtml [Accessed 2007 Aug 27]
- 22.American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed., text rev. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000Google Scholar
- 23.Young K, Pistner M, O’Mara J, et al. Cyber-disorders: the mental health concern for the new millennium. Cyberpsychol Behav 2000; 3: 475–9Google Scholar
- 24.Stein DJ. Internet addiction, internet psychotherapy [letter]. Am J Psychiatry 1997; 153: 890Google Scholar
- 29.Egger O, Rauterberg M. Internet behavior and addiction. Zurich: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, 1996Google Scholar
- 30.Brenner V. Psychology of computer use: XLVII. Parameters of internet use, abuse, and addiction: the first 90 days of the Internet Usage Survey. Psych Rep 1997; 80: 879–82Google Scholar
- 31.Young K. Caught in the net: how to recognize the signs of internet addiction and a winning strategy for recovery. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998Google Scholar
- 45.Ware J. Script for personal interview SF-36 administration (appendix C). In: SF-36 health survey manuals and interpretations. Boston (MA): Nimrod Press, 1993Google Scholar
- 46.Robins LN, Heizer JE, Cottier L, et al. National Institute of Mental Health diagnostic interview schedule, version III-R. St Louis (MO): Washington University School of Medicine, 1989Google Scholar
- 48.Spitzer RL, Williams JBW, Gibbons M. Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV. New York: New York State Psychiatric Institute, Biometrics Research, 1994Google Scholar
- 50.Nie NH, Erbring L. Internet and society: a preliminary report. Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society [online]. Available from URL: http://www.stanford.edu/group/siqss/Press_Release/press_releasw.html [Accessed 2007 Aug 26]
- 52.Petrie H, Gunn D. Internet “addiction”: the effects of sex, age, depression and introversion. British Psychological Society London Conference; 1998 Dec 15–16; LondonGoogle Scholar
- 53.Beck AT, Steer RA, Brown GK. Beck depression inventory-II manual. San Antonio (TX): Psychological Corporation, 1996Google Scholar
- 54.Eysenck H, Eysenck S. Eysenck personality questionnaire. San Diego (CA); Educational and Industrial Testing Service, 1975Google Scholar
- 55.Hyler SE, Rieder RO, Spitzer RL. Personality diagnostic questionnaire, revised. New York: New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1989Google Scholar
- 58.Baldwin DS, Anderson IM, Nutt DJ, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the pharmacological treatment of anxiety disorders: recommendations from the British Association for Psychopharmacology. J Pharmacol 2005; 19: 567–96Google Scholar
- 63.Hadley SJ, Baker BR, Hollander E. Efficacy of escitalopram in the treatment of compulsive-impulsive computer use disorder [abstract]. Biol Psychiatry 2006; 59: 261SGoogle Scholar
- 64.Sattar P, Ramaswamy S. Internet gaming addiction. Can J Psychiatry 2004; 49: 871–2Google Scholar
- 65.Hall AS, Parsons J. Internet addiction: college student case study using best practices in cognitive behavior therapy. J Ment Health Couns 2001; 23(4): 312–27Google Scholar
- 66.Young K. A therapist’s guide to assess and treat internet addiction [online]. Available from URL: http://www.netaddiction.com/downloads.html [Accessed y2007 May 16]
- 68.Ang A. China takes unique steps to combat web addiction. USA Today 2005 [online]. Available from URL: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2005-07-01-china-web-addiction_x.htm [Accessed 2007 Aug 23]