The country’s first internet addiction rehab program that opened last year in Pennsylvania re-started a discussion on internet addiction.
Dr. Kimberly Young, a psychologist and founder of this program, defined internet addiction “by the consequences of Internet overuse rather than the number of hours spent online” as reported by ABC News.
Dr. Young pointed out “a difference between people who depended on modern technology but could balance their online life with their offline life, and people whose obsession prevented them from functioning normally.” She continued to explain that "like any other addiction, we look at whether it has jeopardized their career, whether they lie about their usage or whether it interferes with relationships."
The typical internet addict is a young male, highly intelligent, socially awkward with low self-esteem. Other risk factors include anxiety, depression, and ADHD. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) termed such non-substance addictions as “behavioral addictions”. These are considered addictions because they are repetitive, compulsive and activate reward systems comparable to that activated by street drugs and alcohol.
The consequences of school, occupational, and relational impairment and distress may be similar to those induced by street drugs and alcohol. Some of other behavioral addictions include sex, exercise, and shopping. Due to the lack of evidence-based research at this time, DSM-5 does not include them in its current manual.