Nicole Gibillini, The Gazette
Caught in the Web
Twenty-eight-year-old Brett is addicted to the Internet—everything from surfing the web for news, politics and forums to playing World of Warcraft. Brett says his addiction began at 13, but he only sought professional help about a year ago. After being away from the web for only an hour, Walker would start experiencing withdrawal symptoms. “I had my iPhone and was pretty much always connected,” he recalls. “It was like a disease—it went into so many parts of my life.”
Internet Addiction Disorder refers to excessive amount of Internet use that interferes with daily life. It affects about six to 13 per cent of the American population as a whole. The rate of addiction jumps to 13 to 19 per cent for people aged 18 to 28.
Symptoms of IAD include increasing amounts of time spent on the Internet and failed attempts to control behaviour. People with IAD have a heightened sense of euphoria while on the computer, constantly craving more time on the web.
Most people—especially students—are frequently connected to the web, but are unaware of the consequences. According to Internet addiction specialist Hilarie Cash, IAD is a growing concern. In 2009, Cash founded reSTART, the first Internet and gaming addiction recovery program in North America. The clinic, located in Washington, offers a program for video game or Internet addicts aged 18 to 38.
Even though Brett sought professional help for depression last year, he called reSTART only eight weeks ago to work with therapists specializing in Internet addiction. He says he needed to confront the issues he’d been escaping through the Internet.
“It takes over your life—you’re not really yourself,” Brett explains. “People hold opinions of you that you don’t think accurately describe you, but then you realize that the person they see you as is who you are because that’s how you’re acting.”
By Rob Spiegel
01/12/12 12:53 PM PT
Maybe the Internet won't exactly fry your brain, but it could change it in other unwelcome ways. A new study found a correlation between Internet addiction and specific brain changes often observed in alcoholics and drug addicts. There was evidence of disruption to the connections in the nerve fibers that connect brain areas involved in emotions, decision making and self-control.
Too many hours of Internet use might actually change your brain. Researchers in China have concluded that those who are addicted to the Internet may experience changes in the brain that are similar to those seen in individuals hooked on drugs or alcohol.