Screen Addiction is an impulsive-control problem that can be divided into various subtypes, each requiring counseling or inpatient treatment:
- Sexting and Online Sex Addiction – Individuals who suffer from this are typically engaged in viewing, downloading, and trading online pornography or involved in adult fantasy role-play chat rooms, social media, and sexting.
- Internet Infidelity and Online Affairs – Individuals who suffer from an addiction to chat rooms, social networking, or texting become over-involved in online relationships or may engage in virtual adultery. Screen addiction results in online friends who quickly become more important to the individual at the expense of real life relationships with family and friends often leading to divorce, separation, or family instability.
- Video Games and Gaming Addiction – Anyone who has experienced it knows all too well – video game addiction is real. Although gaming addiction is not yet officially recognized as a diagnosable disorder by the American Medical Association, there is increasing evidence that people of all ages, especially teens and pre-teens, are facing very real, sometimes severe consequences associated with compulsive use of video and computer games. Video games are becoming increasingly complex, detailed, and compelling to a growing international audience of players. With better graphics, more realistic characters, and greater strategic challenges, it’s not surprising that some teens would rather play the latest video game than hang out with friends, play sports, or even watch television. Of course, all gamers are not screen addicts – many teens can play video games a few hours a week, successfully balancing school activities, grades, friends, and family obligations. But for some, gaming has become an uncontrollable compulsion. Studies estimate that 10 percent to 15 percent of gamers exhibit signs that meet the World Health Organization’s criteria for addiction. Just like gambling and other compulsive behaviors, teens can become so enthralled in the fantasy world of gaming that they neglect their family, friends, work, and school.
Net Compulsions – Screen Addiction can be generalized compulsive behavior to Internet gambling, shoping, or eBay. These focus on winning and often cause financial problems, relationship problems, and work-related problems among addicts. Gamblers will be mesmerized as they play slot machines, craps, blackjack and roulette on tablets and phones. Millions of Americans play various gambling games on the Internet, even though the businesses are typically illegal, unregulated, and offer no consumer protections. An estimated 1,700 offshore sites accept these bets, with the annual market estimated at $4 to $6 billion. Beyond the regulatory issues, gambling addiction is often called the “hidden illness” because there are no obvious physical signs or symptoms like there are in drug or alcohol addiction. Problem gamblers typically deny or minimize the problem. They also go to great lengths to hide their gambling. For example, problem gamblers often withdraw from their loved ones, sneak around, and lie about where they’ve been and what they’ve been up to. The same can be said for compulsive shoppers and problemm eBayers.
- Information Overload – The wealth of data available has created a new type of compulsive behavior regarding excessive Internet and database searches. Screen addiction in this case results in spending greater amounts of time searching and collecting data from the web and organizing information. Obsessive compulsive tendencies and reduced work productivity are associated with this behavior.
Based upon the DSM, Dr. Kimberly Young developed the Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire:
- Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?
- Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
- Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
- Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
- Do you stay on-line longer than originally intended?
- Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
- Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
- Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?
Answering “yes” to five or more questions is required to diagnose Screen addiction, although some research suggests meeting three of the criteria is enough to diagnose. According to studies at the Center for Internet Addiction:
- 71% of office workers abuse the Internet during work hours visiting social networking sites, shopping online, reading personal email, or visiting pornography, gaming, or gambling sites.
- Individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety-disorders, social phobia, and other compulsive disorders are more likely to develop Internet addiction.
- Cybersex addiction, online affairs, and online gaming are the most common forms of Internet addiction.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most effective form of treatment for Internet addiction.
- Internet predators are twice as likely to suffer from Internet addiction.
- Children who suffer from Internet addiction are more likely to suffer from depression, experience academic and social problems at school, and are at greater risk to develop physical illnesses, obesity, and carpel tunnel syndrome.
- Children with Internet Addiction are more likely to develop Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Children with Internet Addiction are more likely to suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome and other social problems.
Some other related Internet and Screen Addiction Statistics:
- The new DSM-5 includes Internet Use Gaming Disorder in Section 3 (May 2013).
- The first inpatient treatment for Internet Addiction opened in September of 2013. Call 1-716.375.2076 to learn more.
- Stanford Medical School found 1 in 8 Americans suffer from one aspect of Internet addiction. In North America and Europe prevalence rates are estimated between 1.5% to 8.2%. (Weinstein et al., 2010).
- In China, prevalence rates increase to nearly 30% and teens classified as highly addicted to the Internet were twice as likely to also display self-injurious behavior. (Xie et al., 2010)
- Internet addiction has been particularly recognized as a problem in the Asian countries of South Korea and China. South Korea has seen 10 deaths in internet cafes due to heart and other problems, as well as a game-related murder.
- 1.5% – 3.5% of German teens show signs of Internet addiction or excessive use, and their use is correlated with depression, anxiety, and lower school achievement. (Peukert et al., 2010)
- 11% of South Korean youth are at high risk for Internet addiction. (Park et al., 2009)
- 17% to 20% of US online gamers may suffer from online gaming addiction. (AMA, 2012)
- Growth in mobile phone and tablet market grows at 112% annually, and among 18 to 24 year olds, an estimated 77% may suffer from nomophobia (fear of being without phone). (IDC, 2013)
- 84% of college counselors “agree” or “strongly agree” that Internet Addiction Disorder is a legitimate disorder. 93% of college counselors have “some, but not sufficient training” or “no training” on diagnosing internet addiction disorder. 94% of college counselors have “no training” on the treatment of internet addiction disorder. (Venturini, 2005).
- The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai adopted a measure to cut the students’ use of Internet in the school dormitories after the suicide of an IIT student in October of 2005 due to Internet abuse.