Internet-Related Addictions

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When we think about “addiction,” we usually characterize this in a relation to drugs and alcohol. One of the topics we hear about, but do not usually address with more concern, is the implementation of technology in our society. The internet and smartphone use have become a crucial part of human daily life. Growth in technology has allowed for a wide range of positive implementations, for example, promoting communication, education, and leisure. Technology has brought many advancements to agriculture, which is important to not only our home, the Central Valley, but to the world. Improvements have played a huge role in the evolution of transportation systems as well. Technology allows us to advance in tons of research and studies about topics we could not study without the aid of it.

According to Cuff (2014), “From elementary schooling to doctoral-level education, technology has become an integral part of the learning process in and out of the classroom” (p.75). Technology has played a role in the motivation factor in education and allows students to explore in their research. However, students that have let their internet-related addictions become a mental health problem, such as Internet Gaming Disorder, have been found to be more susceptible, “to a wide array of negative outcomes, including poor school achievement, oppositional behavior, suicidality, and sleep abnormalities, among others” (Zajac et al., 2017, p. 980). It is a proven fact that technology has improved education, however, the way in which it is used for leisure can become a risk factor that most of the time is overlooked.

There are many factors that contribute to the importance of technology for the world, and especially for education. Nevertheless, there are also factors that can be detrimental to society. Baggio et al. (2018) stated, “In the last two decades, there has been a growing recognition of an association between problematic use of digital technologies and psychological distress, health problems, and functional impairment” (p. 564). It is most evident in teens because they have been surrounded by technology since they were born. Technology is important for the growth of student learning abilities, however, according to Cuff (2014), “[They] should not only be comfortable while using these specific technologies, but they should focus on technology usage as a problem-solving tool and a way to extend knowledge” (p. 80).

Nowadays, it is impossible to go anywhere without seeing toddlers to fifteen-year-olds watching their iPads or texting on their smartphones. Kids would rather sit and watch YouTube videos of other kids playing with toys, than play with toys themselves. Cuff (2014) included statistics from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that recorded, “73% of teenagers use social networking sites, while only 14% write blogs, 25% have downloaded podcasts, and 50% have tagged content” (p. 80). It is not only a problem because teens are least likely to interact with the world around them, but it can be a risk for their health. Baggio et al. performed a study to test for technology-mediated behaviors from internet, gaming, smartphone, and cybersex addiction. They expected that gaming and cybersex addiction would be unrelated to each other, and that internet and smartphone addiction were linked to each other.

Of the 5,214 men that participated in the study, “94.8% used the internet, 86.6% played video games, 95.5% used a smartphone, and 77.9% visited pornography websites” (Baggio et al., 2018, p. 566), and 3,428 of the men reported having technology-mediated behaviors. The study tested six different symptoms for each of the four conditions: Continued use, Mood modification, Loss of control, Preoccupation, Withdrawal, and Consequences. The result of the study was that the symptom most precedent in internet addiction was continued use. For gaming addiction, the symptom found was loss of control. Withdrawal was the symptom most common for smartphone addiction, and continued use and mood modification was the most significant symptom found in cybersex addiction.

Currently, there is debate around whether internet-related addictions, such as gaming, should be categorized as mental disorders. Internet gaming disorder (IGD) was included in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a condition awaiting more study. It was found in their research that nine symptoms were connected to IGD:

Preoccupation, withdrawal, tolerance, inability to reduce or stop despite to do so, giving up other activities in favor of gaming, continuing to game despite significant problems, deception or covering up of amount of gaming, using gaming to escape adverse moods, and risking or losing relationships or opportunities (e.g., educational, career) due to gaming. (Zajac et al., 2017, p. 979)

Due to the existence of the mental disorders correlated to internet gaming, individuals are seeking professional help for these problems; some countries even have psychiatric centers specific for treating gaming and internet addictions. They studied for treatments that would aid in helping individuals with the disorders associated with IGD. Five of the 13 studies of IGD evaluated medication, four evaluated cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches, and four evaluated other types of interventions (i.e., a speaking and writing course, family therapy, eclectic psychotherapy, self-discovery camp). It was found, in the study conducted by Chih-Hung Ko (2014), that out of all internet-based games, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) were the most multiplex and demanded the most from players.

Players enjoy MMORPGs because of the escape from reality aspect, but it becomes a problem when they become too distant. Ko (2014) addresses that those who play MMORPGs are more likely to undergo sleep-related problems, such as insomnia and moor sleep quality. He also states that, “adolescents with IGD had higher than normal depression, anxiety, and social phobias and lower than normal school performance” (Ko, 2014, p. 178). The problem is that most of those that are associated with this disorder either are unaware or deny that they have the disorder, with the excuse that other addictions, such as gambling, are more reviewable for concern.

Internet Gambling is another type of internet-related addiction worth addressing. As stated by Dr. Mark Griffiths in his PowerPoint called Gambling Addictions on the Internet, “Technological addictions are operationally defined as nonchemical (behavioural) addictions that involve excessive human machine interaction” (2105, p. 5). Internet gambling has become an attraction to many punters and the reason is because it provides exceptional financial value for the gambler.

Gamblers have the potential to win because there is a component of skill in making bets. For their convenience, they have the ability to compete directly with and against other gamblers instead of gambling on a pre-programmed slot machine or making a bet on a roulette wheel with fixed odds. Online poker is the most popular form of Internet gambling. This is because of the increasing number of celebrities supporting and recommending online poker. Players are able to learn to play for free, play for low stakes, and have 24-hour access to play due to the internet. The major problems of concern about online poker are the cultural implications of it; it comes into the home and workplace and becomes more socially acceptable.

The 2007 Battle Ground Public Schools (BGPS) study of internet gaming found that, “when compared to non-Internet gamblers, Internet gamblers were more likely to be male, relatively young adults, single, well educated, and in professional/managerial employment” (Griffiths, 2015, p. 18). The study showed that internet gamblers were more likely to be problem gamblers. Problem gambling is the urge to continuously gamble without thinking of harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Those who are identified with problem gambling are under the category of addictions that should be taken more seriously due to the fact that it can become someone’s main priority in life, which should not be the case.

With all this information, it is evident that addiction cannot only be referenced to alcohol and drugs, but to the internet and the ways it can mold itself into a person’s lifestyle. Technology has brought vast improvement to many factors of society, such as promoting communication, education, and leisure. However, looking past that and examining the problems that the internet and its services offer for leisure should be a priority, in order to help those associated with these issues. Internet use, most importantly in teens, is a concern because it inhibits their social skills and can affect their mental health. Various studies have been performed to examine technology-mediated behaviors from internet gaming and online gambling to cybersex addiction.

The result for the analysis made, connecting each of the technology-mediated behaviors to a set of six symptoms, is prime evidence that these are matters worth addressing. For internet gaming to have a title of disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders should be a key sign that it is a detriment. Furthermore, individuals who are linked to problem gambling habitually deny that they are, and this is a substantial flag for addiction. Due to many factors stated above, we can see that internet-related addictions can be almost equivalent in terms of importance to drug and alcohol addiction.

Cite this paper

Internet-Related Addictions. (2021, Sep 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/internet-related-addictions/

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