Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Is too much internet use bad for us?

Too much of anything is not good for us and the internet is no exception, it seems. 

As a population we are spending longer online but this doesn’t mean we are addicted. Internet addiction is different in that it involves excessive, obsessive and uncontrollable computer use which, much like other addictions, can interfere with daily life. So much so, that internet addicts, particularly gamers, become so absorbed in the activity that they go without food or drink for long periods and their education, work and relationships suffer.

It is estimated that 5-10% of internet users are addicts and it is believed to be such a problem that there have been calls to officially recognise ‘Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)’ in the new 2013 version of the DSM-V - a manual which classifies clinical disorders.

According to recent research, there may be valid cause for concern. A study in the Journal Psychopathology by Leeds University, reported a strong link between heavy internet use and depression, although researchers could not identify which factor caused the other. 

More recently, internet addiction has been linked with changes in the brain similar to those seen in other addictions. Indeed, results from MRI scans of adolescents in China diagnosed with Internet Addiction Disorder showed impairment in white matter fibres similar to those observed in alcohol, cannabis and cocaine addiction. These changes showed evidence of disrupting pathways related to emotions, decision-making, and self-control. The findings of this study were criticised however, as the effect that drugs, alcohol or caffeine-based stimulants may have possibly had on these changes were not controlled.

If you have an addiction and would like to talk to one of our experienced practitioners, please contact your local First Psychology centre at the contact details below: 

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, www.edinburghtherapy.co.uk
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, www.glasgowpsychology.co.uk 
Aberdeen: 01224-452848, www.aberdeenpsychology.co.uk
Borders: 01896-800-400, www.borderspsychology.co.uk

1 comment:

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