The last decade witnessed an explosion of social networks such as Myspace and Facebook, which added a new social dimension to the web.
While such networks have made people, communities and groups with shared interests stay more “connected,” Internet addiction and social network addiction in particular also started being recognized as psychological disorders all over the world. While several 90′s studies focused on Internet addiction, the next decade saw the growth of a new addiction related to all manner of social networking sites, especially the current king of the jungle: Facebook.
In a recent study from the University of Athens, Greek psychiatrists argued that a woman who had gone as ...view middle of the document...
There are many factors that determine the characteristics of Internet and social network addictions in different parts of the world. The nature and scope of these problems are not only affected by technological advancement and the number of computers connected to the Internet per capita and other such quantitative data, but cultural factors are also key in determining the local incidence of these addictions.
While social network addiction is not included in the DSM IV, many researchers advocated its inclusion in DSM V, which is currently under way. For example, in a 2008 editorial for the American Journal of Psychiatry, IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder) inclusion advocate Dr. Jerald Block cited the case of South Korea, stating that:
After a series of 10 cardiopulmonary-related deaths in Internet cafés and a game-related murder, South Korea considers Internet addiction one of its most serious public health issues. Using data from 2006, the South Korean government estimates that approximately 210,000 South Korean children (2.1%; ages 6–19) are afflicted and require treatment. About 80% of those needing treatment may need psychotropic medications, and perhaps 20% to 24% require hospitalization.
Since the average South Korean high school student spends about 23 hours each week gaming, another 1.2 million are believed to be at risk for addiction and to require basic counseling. In particular, therapists worry about the increasing number of individuals dropping out from school or work to spend time on computers. As of June 2007, South Korea has trained 1,043 counselors in the treatment of Internet addiction and enlistedover 190 hospitals and treatment centers.
Nevertheless, the DSMV V draft released earlier this year revealed “work group members decided there was insufficient research data” to include Internet addiction in the newly created “behavioral addictions” category.
It has been over 13 years since pioneer Kimberley S. Young adapted the DSM IV criteria for gambling addictions to define Internet addiction. While her proposed diagnosis criteria have virally spread (to use a familiar term related to social networking) all over the world, it seems that the scientific community is not yet ready to reach...