Internet addiction, the latest generation psychological dependence

Internet addiction, the latest generation psychological dependence

With the development of the Internet and its exponential growth, the first cases of network-related psychopathology. Network dependence disorder has been known by many names: Internet addiction disorder - Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) - (Goldberg, 1995), compulsive use of the Internet (Morahan-Martin and Schumacker, 1997), or pathological use of the Internet - Pathological Internet Use (PIU) - (Young and Rodgers, 1998b).


  • 1 Internet addiction disorder
  • 2 Internet addiction or technological addiction?
  • 3 Diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction
  • 4 Internet abuse and depression
  • 5 Internet abuse treatment

Internet addiction disorder

One of the problematic aspects is: What do internet addicts become addicted to? Is it the content they access or is it the Internet itself? Regarding this, Pratarelli et al. (1999), use the term of addiction to the computer / Internet, and define it as a putative phenomenon or disorder that depends on both the medium and the message, without bowing in favor of any.

An example of the problem is found in the relationship between sex addiction and internet addiction. Would an individual who was addicted to sexual content pages be addicted to sex, the Internet, or both? Guerricaecheverría and Echeburúa (1997) present a clinical case of addiction to party and erotic telephone lines, noting that it is a question of a variant of sex addiction. In this case it would be difficult for us to understand that there was an addiction to the phone itself.

Internet addiction or technological addiction?

Some experts point out that the existence of "technological addictions" are defined as non-chemical addictions that involve man-machine interaction.

These can be passive (such as television) or active (such as computer games or the Internet). This would be a form of psychological or behavioral addictions, which in turn would include Internet addiction.

Several authors have also pointed out that the Internet could be, in most cases, only a means or "place" where to feed other addictions or disorders (e.g. gambling or paraphilias), although they also point out that there are cases of Internet addiction by itself.

Diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction

The first person to establish diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction was the psychiatrist Iván Goldberg. Goldberg (1995) proposes a set of criteria for the diagnosis of Internet addiction disorder based on the diagnostic criteria of substance abuse.

The criteria focus mainly on the negative consequences of network dependence, in short, what leads a person to seek help to end their addiction to the network? What negative symptoms do you experience? What dysfunctions does the addict find in his life because of his use of the Internet? One of the aspects that differentiate a psychological addiction of a chemical addiction is that the former does not have the terrible negative physical consequences that the latter can have. Even so, in the case of Internet addiction some consequences have also been pointed out, especially those derived from sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is caused by the inability of the addict to cut the connection, staying awake until the wee hours of the morning, which could lead to fatigue, weakening of the immune system and a deterioration of health.

Internet abuse and depression

The relationship between high Internet use and the increase in depression levels It has appeared in several studies (Kraut et al., 1998; Petrie and Gunn, 1998; Young and Rodgers, 1998b). However, it still exists a lot of controversy about whether depression is the cause or effect of Internet addiction. According to Pratarelli et al. (1999), there is a cycle in which loneliness and depression feed the use of the computer / Internet, and this leads to greater loneliness and depression. This would be explained by a compensatory behavior according to which the activity of the users increases as they increase s increases as their feelings of lack of communication increase.

The medium in which the addiction unfolds also carries a series of negative psychological changes, consisting of alterations of mood, anxiety or impatience due to the slowness of the connections or not finding what is sought or to whom one is looking for, altered state of consciousness (total attention focus), irritability in case of interruption, inability to get out of screen, etc.

The problems arising from dependence transcend the scope of the intrapersonal. From a systemic point of view, the negative effects of addiction are expressed in the family, academic and professional fields. The addict is isolated from the environment and does not pay attention to other aspects of social obligations.

Internet abuse treatment

The treatment of Internet addiction is based on the same premises as the disabling of any other addiction, whether chemical or psychological.

The phases of a treatment for a person with an addiction consist of the stages of Demand for treatment, evaluation, treatment and monitoring. In turn, within the treatment, six phases are distinguished: detoxification or maintenance; psychological cessation or achievement of substance withdrawal or stop doing the behavior; normalization, change of previous lifestyle and search for new alternative goals to addiction; relapse prevention; maintenance program or short, medium and long term support program.