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Internet Is Addictive, And You Are A Victim Too

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AMA might label Internet as an addiction

ORLANDO, Fla., June 21 (UPI) — The American Medical Association plans to vote on a recommendation to classify Internet and video-game addiction as a formal diagnosis.

The AMA said the heaviest game players are those who play MMORPGs — massive multiplayer online role-playing games — such as World of Warcraft. Those players are more likely to be socially isolated and probably addicted, The Orlando Sentinel said Thursday.

Steve Jones — a communications professor at the University of Illinois and a research fellow with the Pew Internet and American Life Project — said he is skeptical about calling it an addiction.

“Just because any activity might interfere with other activities is not enough to call it an addiction,” he told the newspaper.

Jones said there have been concerns about technology dating back to the 1920s, when people were worried movies were causing children to spend too much time inside

 Hence cautions are to be taken before recklessly creating formal diagnostic categories. Recent medical history is abundant in terms like ADHS or Fibromyalgia, that are so hazy in their delineation, that they might apply two half of the nation or won’t suite anybody, depending on the diagnostician’s rigour. In 2006, the American Medical Association decided to do its part to contribute to the body of knowledge associated with “gaming addiction,” violence and “Internet addiction.” The report — which doesn’t rise to any traditional academic standard for peer-reviewed research, such as a formal literature review — was just published (AMA Report on Internet and Video Game Addiction – PDF).

“Internet adddiction” is a term that was coined in 1996 in a poster at the annual American Psychological Association convention. The term came from a small study that simply changed the word “gambling” in the criteria of “pathological gambling” to “Internet use” and found, not surprising, that a self-selected sample of people identified with the criteria. (The researcher could’ve easily done the same thing with the words, “shopping,” “watching TV,” or “eating chocolate,” and found similar results. This, in itself, is neither an argument pro nor contra non-substance related addiction, though.)

What does the report say about this “disorder”?

“This term seems to have been coined in the 1990s when researchers were attempting to describe a constellation of behaviors observed in persons using the Internet to such an extent that it began to cause other aspects of their lives to become dysfunctional. The DSM-IV disorder most similar to the pattern of behaviors observed with overuse of video games is pathological gambling. “

But unlike the criteria for pathological gambling, which were empirically constructed, the criteria for “Internet addiction” were simply derived from the existing pathological gambling criteria. Hence heavy video game playing is referred to as “video game overuse”, whereas “overuse” certainly is difficult to define.

This is exactly the problem for research. There is no universally accepted definition of “overuse” — of the Internet, of video games, of TV watching, etc. As such, the report states:

“However, as with findings on long-term aggression, there is currently insufficient research to definitively conclude that video game overuse is an addiction. “

Note, AMA does not publish the DSM, the American Psychiatric Association does. The AMA is issuing simply a recommendation. This recommendation, anyway, is welcome to stimulate systematic research as to the boundaries of pathological internet use and gambling as nosological entities.


Written by huehueteotl

June 22, 2007 at 9:10 am

Posted in Psychology

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