Are you addicted to the Internet?

A new form of addiction is recognized by psychiatrists. Internet addiction—which occurs worldwide in countries where Internet is available—is described as having the urge to use the computer with Internet access, too much or poorly controlled anxiety, which results to anguish and impairment.

In the US, it is estimated to occur at 0.3 to 0.7 percent. A time interval of ten years or more happens before the addiction, and majority of those with the disorder are in the late 20s or early 30s, particularly in men.

The cause is unknown but may involve cultural, neurologic and psychological factors. Associated psychiatric conditions are common such as anxiety, impulse control, mood, and substance abuse.

In Korea, Internet game addiction is recognized among adolescents, where low (2.08 times) and middle (2.54 times) academic performance, and longer usage time of Internet (1.18 times), are identified as risk factors.

There are no evidence-based treatments for this disorder yet. A supportive environment from the family, behavioural therapy, as well as self-help books and tapes may offer help. Self-imposed ban may be necessary at times. A predictive prevention model was suggested in Korea that would integrate the roles of adolescents, counsellors, and parents.

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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