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Internet “addiction”?

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Thursday October 19, 2006 )

Imagine a few days without the Internet. Does it send shivers down your spine? Do you break into a cold sweat, dive under your desk and begin rocking yourself gently? You’re probably not alone.

“Hi, my name’s Michael and I’m an…”

A new study reveals that between 5 and 10 percent of people will experience Internet addiction. “Addiction” is probably too strong a term in my opinion and creates a danger of dowplaying the seriousness and horrors of substance abuse – but that’s just what Stanford University School of Medicine researchers are attempting to define; i.e. whether obsessive and excessive online usage merits a medical diagnosis.

The telephone study of over 2500 American adults showed that over 12% of Americans show a sign or signs of Internet usage patterns that could be described as being a serious issue.

The researchers have even profiled a typical “addict” – a single, college-educated, 30-something white male who uses the web for around 30 hours a week for non-essential purposes.

Some other key findings from the study:

– Neary 69% of the survey groups used the internet regularly
– 12.4% were online longer than needed frequently
– 12.3% had recognized a need to reduce usage in the past
– 8.7% were “closet surfers”, hiding non-essential use
– 8.2% used the Internet as an escape or as a mood lift
– Nearly 6% felt their relationships suffered from their excessive use of the Internet.

The next growth industry – Internet detoxes and rehab centers I guess.

What are your thoughts – do you feel that this kind of behavior warrants the term “addiction”?

Read more of the Stanford study on Internet addiction


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