The problem of Internet addiction does not seem to attract a lot of public attention. The majority of people are certain that addiction to web-surfing is nothing in comparison with addiction to drugs or alcohol. However, The American Journal of Psychiatry, the world’s largest association of psychiatrists, published an article last year, which suggested categorizing addiction to the internet as a mental disorder.
Up to ten percent of online surfers suffer from the Internet overuse. It does not seem to be a large amount of people, but it means that at least 400,000 Muscovites are in need of medical aid at this point. Hundreds of Internet addicts have already died in the world because the human body is unable to cope with the excessive use of computers. As for the so-called risk group, the problem touches upon about 40 percent of web surfers.
Internet addicts may sit for hours and even days in front of computer screens without eating and sleeping. They lose interest in personal hygiene and household routines. Family, work, studies and friends lose their importance as people start living in the virtual world.
People usually go online to watch some videos, to find information, to communicate with other people etc. To put it in a nutshell, people use the Internet to satisfy a want. An Internet addict does not satisfy any of their wants with the help of the world wide web. When a human being needs something, he or she usually seeks a way to solve the problem, finds a solution, receives satisfaction from his or her achievement and calms down. However, it may also happen when this process does not have a logic conclusion – people may never find a solution when they live on the Internet.
It goes without saying that the Internet offers a gazillion of opportunities to escape from reality. Vodka, heroine or gambling provide a similar opportunity.
A person, who spends a lot of time surfing the web, loses an ability to control their time. If they do not use the Internet they become depressed and explosive. They lose interest in other alternative ways of pastime. Internet addicts can not refuse themselves in visiting websites and chat rooms even if they realize that they have to do it.
Some specialists acknowledge that Internet addiction disorder is not a true addiction and may in fact be no more than a symptom of other, existing disorders. For example, a person who has lengthy telephone conversations with a friend to avoid an unpleasant situation could be declared "addicted to the telephone" with equal validity as a person who chats on the Internet with the same underlying goal.
To the extent that the Internet is a social medium instead of an object, people cannot be addicted to it. The analogy is made to an environment: a person can not be truly addicted to living in a favorite town (no matter how distressing a change of home might be), and a goldfish can not be addicted to living in a pond.
Secondly, it is widely recognized, even by its supporters, that most if not all "Internet addicts" already fall under existing, legitimate diagnostic labels. For many patients, overuse or inappropriate use of the Internet is merely a manifestation of their depression, anxiety, impulse control disorders, or pathological gambling.