Internet addiction is surging to the top ranks of the listed societal problems in Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore…even as internet usage in Asia in terms of absolute numbers of internet users has overtaken the USA and Sweden which in 2004 (which led the world as countries with the highest percentage of internet users).

Internet addiction disorder is defined as “the excessive use of a computer that eventually interferes with daily life”. Experts say there are three types: cyber-affair/relational addiction, net compulsions, and information overload.

In China, Taiwan and Korea, internet addiction is regarded as a genuine psychiatric problem called Internet Addiction Disorder or Internet Use disorder with dedicated treatment centres for internet-addicted teenagers (and these countries are said to be at the leading edge of studies on IA). America’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the authority on mental illness, is considering including “internet use disorder” in its official listings, and IA is being considered a possible disability. Silicon Valley experts in July this year warned of the addictive power of technology.

Scientists have found that compulsive internet use can produce morphological changes in the structure of the brain.  A 2009 study titled “Gray matter abnormalities in Internet addiction” investigated brain gray matter density (GMD) changes in adolescents with Internet addiction (IA) using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis on high-resolution T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance images. Compared with healthy controls, the studied IA adolescents had lower GMD in the left anterior cingulate cortex, left posterior cingulate cortex, left insula, and left lingual gyrus.  On the other hand, increases in the density of the right parahippocampal gyrus and a spot called the left posterior limb of the internal capsule were also found. The study suggested that brain structural changes were present in IA adolescents, providing a new insight into the pathogenesis of IA. A 2011 PLOS:One study similarly found that decreased gray matter volume of the DLPFC, rACC, SMA, and white matter FA changes of the PLIC were significantly correlated with the duration of internet addiction in the adolescents with IAD. These changes are thought to reflect the learning-type cognitive optimizations for using computers more efficiently, but also impaired short-term memory and decision-making abilities—including ones in which may contribute to the desire to stay online instead of be in the real world. *** Internet usage, however, appears to affect the young and old differently(see note below).

There were 94.08 million Internet users as of 2009 according to the communications ministry. While Japan has had to play catchup to the USA in terms of internet usage, by 2008, 73.4 percent of households used high-speed broadband and Japan has the world’s fastest Internet connections with broadband 8-30 times faster in Japan than in the US and cheaper as well. Media download speeds, in megabits per second in 2007: Japan (61); South Korea (46); Finland (21); Sweden (18); and the United States (2). According to a survey in 2007 by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, about 60,900 people stay overnight at Internet and manga cafes; 5,400 people in Japan regularly spend the night in Internet or manga cafes and 82.6% of them are males. In late 2006, Japanese (with 37 percent) eclipsed English (with 36 percent) as the most common language used in blog spots, according to the U.S. blog survey company Technocrat, which is remarkable in that only 1.8 percent of the worlds’ population speaks Japanese and Japanese people account for 7.1 percent of the global online population. A  2007 study “Internet Addiction among Students: Prevalence and Psychological Problems in Japan” based on college students, puts the Internet Addiction rate in Japan at 9.1 %…but the report suggests that the worse addiction may be the growing cases of addiction to mobile phones given the widespread use of the devices among Japanese adolescents (In 2005, Japan was No. 1 in the world in the number of users of broadband Internet services via mobile phones). According to a Rocketnews24 via Japan Today article “Online gaming addiction becoming serious problem in Japan” the Absentee Students Support Center based in Nagoya “received 327 requests for help concerning online game addiction from January to July this year. The National Web Counseling Association also has reportedly received nearly 150 similar requests in the past three years. A hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture famous for its alcoholism treatment program even set up an outpatient program dedicated to Internet addiction in July this year, and since then they have received 85 patients, over 70% of which were junior high or high school students, most of them boys…” (scroll down to bottom of page to see article extract below).

According to an article “Fighting Online Addiction“, the Norton Cyber Crime Report 2011 survey found that a Singaporean spends 31 hours weekly online, while globally, a person would spend 24 hours online.  This put Singaporeans at the top of the list in terms of internet hour usage, with Singaporeans spending more time online every week as compared to people in countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom and Hong Kong.  This was the finding from an online survey that Norton conducted with over 19,000 respondents in 24 countries which included adults, children and teachers. The report also found a higher percentage of Singaporeans who are more “connected” online as compared to respondents from other countries.

In a Korean study titled Internet Over-Users’ Psychological Profiles: A Behavior Sampling Analysis on Internet Addiction, investigating the IA disorder, pathological use of the internet results in negative life consequences such as job loss, marriage breakdown, financial debt, and academic failure. 70% of internet users in Korea are reported to play online games, 18% of which are diagnosed as game addicts. Up to 30% of South Koreans under 18, or about 2.4 million people, are said to be at risk of Internet addiction (according to Ahn Dong-hyun, a child psychiatrist at Hanyang University in Seoul who completed a 2007 three-year government-financed survey on IA). On internet addition in South Korea, watch the videoclip called “Love child” on internet addiction in S. Korea“, said to be the most wired society (95%) in the world,

Out of China, we often get the most sensationalist stories of all about the extremes young students will go (selling kidneys and virginity to own digital devices), as well as the lengths at which parents and authority figures will go to curb those excesses (Internet Addiction Clinics cracking down on beatings; Internet addicted 11 year-old knifed by distraught mother in China). China has more than 200 internet addict bootcamps.

In China, the religious-sounding Qihang Salvation Training Camp (an internet addiction bootcamp) reportedly claimed that an estimated 80 percent of Chinese youth suffered from IA. And according to TIME magazine, “With the world’s largest netizen population of 300 million, China is struggling with a new plight: Internet obsession among its youth. Since the 2004 establishment of the country’s first Internet Addiction Center, the military-run boot camp in Beijing  … more than 3,000 adolescent and young-adult patients have been treated for Internet addiction…“. The number of Internet users in the country has skyrocketed in the past 12 years from 620,000 to over 513 million (data from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), as of January 16 2012), which is 55.4% of the “netizen” population in Asia, and 23.2% of the similar population in the world, making it the world’s largest and fastest-growing online population.

The China Communist Youth League (via “17% Of Youth Addicted To Internet”, Jan 11, 2007) claimed that over 17% of Chinese citizens between 13 and 17 were addicted to the Internet. A survey was published 2010 (source) regarding China Internet usage: Chinese internet users spend roughly 6.13 hours online each day and approximately 42% of young Chinese considered themselves addicts.The number of young China Internet addicts soared to 24 million by 2009, and one of every seven internet users is now considered an addict.  Another study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences classified 33 million Internet users as addicted, which means they spend more than 90 minutes a day online outside of work or school. Of the 236 million Netizens in China who are under 29 years old, almost 14% are hooked on the Web, the report said via Informationweek.

According to Information Week’s “Internet Addiction Plague“, the report “particularly focused on the increasing problems associated with Internet gaming. Nearly 50% of young Chinese hop on the Net just to play games. And they tend to favor massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), which have made companies like Tencent and Shanda some of the most popular on Wall Street because of the industry’s fast growth. Nearly 70% of young Internet addicts are hooked on such games, said the report, which cites a survey by China Internet Network Information Center of almost 10,000 users aged 6 to 29.”

Chou and Hsiao reported in 2002 that the incidence rate of Internet addiction among Taiwan college students was 5.9% A Taiwanese internet addiction study of college students “found that Internet addicts spent almost triple the number of hours connected to the Internet as compare to non-addicts, and spent significantly more time on BBSs, the WWW, e-mail and games than non-addicts. The addict group found the Internet entertaining, interesting, interactive, and satisfactory. The addict group rated Internet impacts on their studies and daily life routines significantly more negatively than the non-addict group. The study also found that the most powerful predictor of Internet addiction is the communication pleasure score, followed by BBS use hours, sex, satisfaction score, and e-mail-use hours.”  According to an internet guide, one of the major reasons that the Internet is so addicting is the lack of limits and the absence of accountability (“Internet addiction and lack of accountability“. internet-addiction-guide.com. 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2011-07-06).

As internet usage and addiction problems become more widespread, what can we as parents do?

You can have your child take a simple Internet Addiction Test diagnostic quiz developed by Kimberly Young (which is said to be highly effective but which is criticized for not having “been subjected to systematic psychometric testing” …or the Chinese official test which is a lot simpler. Go to this page to administer The Parent-Child  IAT by Kimberley Young’s IAT which is more suited for younger children.

Arm yourself with information – a truly excellent guide for parents and guardians by the ZUR Institute is to be found online: “Psychology of the Web & Internet Addiction“.

First, we are advised on how to identify if our child is suffering from such a disorder. According to the psychologists (Hinič, Mihajlovič, Đukič-Dejanovič, Špirič, and Jovanovič), these are the characteristic traits:

(1) The incidence of tolerance (spent more time than before on the Internet);

(2) Withdrawal symptoms (attempted to decrease Internet use and presented anxiety, subjective sense of compulsion, obsessive thoughts and occupation with the Internet, etc);

(3) The incidence of feeling of fatigue and nervousness (when stopping using the Internet will become irritated, so they will access the Internet);

(4) Because of Internet use, there is much risk of loss of significant relationships, occupational and educational opportunities;

(5) There are some problems such as sleeplessness, marital conflicts, employment problems caused by excessive Internet use etc.; and

(6) The Internet is a destressor that allows the user to get away from disturbances such as helplessness, guilt, anxiety and depression

Mark D Griffiths‘ five criteria of Internet addiction are:

  1. Salience: Using the Internet dominates the person’s life, feelings and behaviour.
  2. Mood modification: The person experiences changes in mood (e.g. a ‘buzz’) when using the Internet.
  3. Tolerance: Increasing amounts of Internet use are needed to achieve the same effects on mood.
  4. Withdrawal symptoms: If the person stops using the Internet, they experience unpleasant feelings or physical effects.
  5. Relapse: The addict tends to relapse into earlier patterns of behaviour, even after years of abstinence or control.

Understanding the “impulsivity” of adolescents  A 2008 Chinese study titled The relationship between impulsivity and Internet addiction in a sample of Chinese adolescents suggested that adolescents with Internet addiction exhibit more impulsivity than controls and have various comorbid psychiatric disorders.  The Internet Addiction group scored higher than the control group on the failure to inhibit responses of GoStop Impulsivity Paradigm (P < 0.05) but had significantly higher scores on the BIS-11 subscales of Attentional key, Motor key, and Total scores than the control group.

Watch out for a high level of depression. A number of studies (see the Whang, Lee & Chang study as well as the questionnaire-based study  now show a link between high internet usage and depression –  those who regard themselves as dependent on the Internet report high levels of depressive symptoms. According to Kim et al., depression and suicidal tendencies are the highest in IA (reported source).

The same Taiwanese study above suggested a variety of approaches could work in helping internet addicts overcome their addiction, while maintaining their self-esteem. Treatment of addictions could take on individual, group, and family counseling,  but some researchers believe group counseling is the most effective. Extracted from the study:

  • In some researchers’ views, the most effective approach of treatment for internet addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Kim developed some cognitive behavioral approach elements such as time management skills, and teaching reminder cards (how to use such in a group counseling program)….based on ..the five basic needs, total behavior, friendly involvement, and making a plan to treat college students. Kim used the core instructions of choice theory to help clients assert healthy behaviors on the Internet by exploring how they could get their basic needs by requesting information about their actions, wants, self-evaluation plans, and then choosing more effective behaviors. It was found that treatment programs effectively reduced addiction level and promoted self-esteem of college students with Internet addiction.
  • In constructivist approaches, counselors can work with families to map their perceptions of these situations through narrative construction. They must see the family as a social unit amid concerns that technological, economic and social pressures should affect household functioning. For example, adolescents have computer issues, and these are linked to the parents’ ability to control computer access at home. Counselors can work with families and through providing contextual analyses and support, assist families to reframe their situations. If clients’ technological and environmental contexts under their conditions were include in counseling process, and then this could enhance their insight in problem solving. Constructivist approaches let families get a better sense of their conditions in context, so they prompt cultural and economic changes in order to explore potential solutions.
  • A multi-level intervention was developed by Shek, Tang, and Lo. The multi-level intervention had following features such as emphasis on healthy use of the Internet, understanding the change process in Internet addiction behavior, a directive, client-centered counseling style, adoption of a family perspective, and a multi-level counseling model (individual, family counseling, and a peer support group).

Corrective strategies for IA, other than counselling, and cognitive behavioural therapy, include the use of content-control software which is designed to control the content permitted to a reader by restricting the material delivered over the Internet via the Web, e-mail, or other means..

If we find the above prescription to be too clinical … on a simpler note, Fighting Online Addiction has these three-pronged tips for us:

  • Establish House Rules – Set house rules on computer usage duration (i.e. 2 hours a day) to prevent children from spending excessive amounts of time online. Also, homework should be completed before your children are allowed to use the computer for recreation.
  • Maintain Open Communications – Initiate open and friendly discussions with your children on why house rules are required, and also listen to their concerns and experiences with their online usage and experience.
  • Have a balanced lifestyle – Engage in other leisure activities, such as sports and outdoor activities or adopt a new hobby, besides spending time on the computer and Internet.

We could also take note of the words of Richard Fernandez, the development director of Google’s “mindfulness” movement that is aimed at teaching employees the risks of becoming overly engaged with their devices and to improve their concentration levels and ability to focus, who says teaching people to occasionally disconnect is vital.

Last but not least, now that mobile phones have gotten “smarter” and are as net-ready and capable as PCs, we are also warned that “mobile email addiction may be considered more prevalent than other technology addictions“.

***

Online game addiction becoming serious problem in Japan By Kay JAPANTODAY Nov. 22, 2012

TOKYO —
People — especially the young — becoming focused on game-playing to the point of obsession is nothing new, but online game addiction appears to be an increasingly serious problem here in Japan.

While cases as extreme as the boy in China addicted to online games who attempted suicide to escape a correctional facility are fortunately (and hopefully) far and few between, a recent article on Yomiuri Online described the dire situation that some online game addicts in Japan find themselves in.

According to the article, the Absentee Students Support Center based in Nagoya reports having received 327 requests for help concerning online game addiction from January to July this year. The National Web Counseling Association also has reportedly received nearly 150 similar requests in the past three years. A hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture famous for its alcoholism treatment program even set up an outpatient program dedicated to Internet addiction in July this year, and since then they have received 85 patients, over 70% of which were junior high or high school students, most of them boys. So, what’s happening to all of these troubled game addicts?

The history of one 19-year old male student residing in Tokyo is recounted in the article. The young man started playing games on his cell phone when he was in junior high school, but what started as an activity to simply pass the time while commuting to school started to gradually change and then eventually control his life.

Even though the games themselves can be played for free, the game service providers make sure that there are ways for players to spend money – several hundred yen for an item here, a thousand yen for a “special power” there. By the time the young man was in high school, he was spending about 80,000 yen a month on online games from his allowance and money earned from part-time jobs. Even when he received the considerable sum of 100,000 yen as “otoshidama,” the New Year’s good luck money customarily given to children on New Year’s Day by family and relatives, the money would be gone within 10 days. Still, being complimented or admired by other players he met online felt so good that he couldn’t stop “investing” in his game.

By the time his parents found out about his excessive gaming, a demand notice for non-payment of 50,000 yen had been sent to his home, and he had spent well over one million yen on online games. He was also chronically late to school from lack of sleep and had lost a noticeable amount of weight as well.

But his story doesn’t end there. After receiving counseling as a high school junior, he did manage to stay away from games for a while, but earlier this year, after he entered a technical college, he found himself addicted once again to a different online game. Now, he has gone back to spending most of his time gaming on his phone and ends up barely getting any sleep some days The sad part is, he himself is acutely aware of the trouble he is in but still can’t stop playing, saying that the future doesn’t hold any hope for him in the real world, while in the virtual world of games, he is able to grow and make steady progress, which allows him to feel a sense of achievement he can’t experience in reality. It’s obvious that people like him need help and support.

Excessive game-playing and related on-line spending has been a topic of concern in Japan for some time now, with cases of young children running huge online bills on their parents’ cell phone accounts being reported in the news from time to time. So much so that the Japanese government, through its Consumer Affairs Agency, has been discussing steps to restrict, if not ban, certain practices common in Japanese online games that allow players to buy a chance to win important items (note: not the actual items but a “chance” to win them), which some people feel is an irresponsible and unethical way to encourage players to keep spending money in hopes of obtaining that coveted item. As one executive of the Agency commented, it probably doesn’t help that “the increasing availability of smartphones is making it easier for everyone to stay online anytime, everywhere”.

In response to public opinion, some of the major social game operators in Japan have implemented measures to restrict on-line spending by players aged 15 or younger to under 5,000 yen per month, but as yet, there are no restrictions on the amount of time a player is allowed to spend on-line.

While social games can be great fun, these stories do serve as a warning that too much fun can have disastrous consequences if it leads to addictive behavior that can’t be stopped — a fate I’m sure we all want to avoid. So, how much time do you spend online?

Source: Yomiuri Online

RocketNews24

External Link: http://en.rocketnews24.com/2012/11/21/online-game-addiction-not-exactly-substance-abuse-but-could-be-becoming-a-serious-problem-in-japan/

See also related 2009 news article:

Compulsive Internet gaming addiction on the rise JAPANTODAY, KUCHIKOMI DEC. 11, 2009

TOKYO —
“If I’m not here everyone will die, so if you want to drink with me you’d better come over.”

The journalist hearing this from an old friend is naturally nonplussed. What he finds at the root of his friend’s condition is the relatively novel, but rapidly spreading, phenomenon of Internet gaming. If fun was all it was, there would be no problem. Unfortunately, reports Shukan Asahi (Dec 18), it tends to be addictive. Some people can’t tear themselves away from their game personas. The real world grows increasingly alien to them, and they to it.

The journalist receives a second shock on walking into his friend’s apartment in Tokyo’s Shinjuku. The friend—we’ll call him Masao—is 27, and quit his last job six months ago. His one-room flat is so littered with convenience store bento and order-in pizza wrappings that you can scarcely force your way into the place. Not looking up from the 3D characters flitting across the screen—the “everyone,” presumably, who would die in his absence—Masao says, “I’m playing Final Fantasy. It’s a Net game. What, you don’t know it? And you a journalist! Look at me, I’ve gained 20 kg…”

Having heard vague reports of Internet addicts in South Korea and China literally dying at their keyboards, the journalist expresses his concern.

“Don’t I know it!” says Masao. “That’s me all right. I’m hooked. But I’m not as bad as some. At least I take time off to go to the john. I don’t pee into PET bottles.”

How typical Masao is is hard to say. A Japan Online Game Association survey cited by Shukan Asahi shows Japanese game sites drawing 75 million hits in 2008, up 30% from 2004. That proves burgeoning popularity, but not necessarily burgeoning addiction. Still, some people fear the worst—that Net gaming is destroying personalities and making hardcore participants unfit for “real life”—if anyone knows what that is.

It was thwarted romance that did Masao in. There was a girl at work he liked, but she thought him weird and made no secret of it. He quit in despair and turned to gaming. Online, in his game character, he is as popular as a young man can wish to be.

With “Ms A,” another gaming addict Shukan Asahi’s writer meets as he widens his investigation, it’s a different story. At 19 she plunged into depression when her boyfriend died in a motorcycle accident. That was the end of “real life” as far as she was concerned.

Someone she encountered at a suicide website suggested gaming as an alternative. Gaming, therefore, might have saved her life. The companionship, though purely virtual—maybe for that reason—she found comforting. Her fellow gamers meet sometimes in physical space at “offline” parties, but she declines to join them. She’s not ready for that yet. Her online character is male, because “guys trying to pick me up would be a nuisance,” and she suspects it’s the same with some of the other “male” gamers.

Does Internet gaming cause people to be withdrawn, or is it a potentially beneficial window on the outside world for those who would be hopelessly solitary otherwise? The experts are divided. Very likely both are true to some extent. For many, neither is—after all, the vast majority who play do it without forsaking life as we know it. “When we [players] get together off-line,” Shukan Asahi hears from a dedicated but not addicted devotee, “I see magazine editors, guys in finance—normal, busy people.”

:::

More youths seeking help for online addictions
By Hetty Musfirah | Channelnewsasia.com, 06 February 2011

SINGAPORE: The results of a National Youth Survey released recently have raised concerns over youths spending too much time online. Experts have said that if not monitored, the habit may lead to addiction.

When it comes to internet usage, the latest “State of the Youths in Singapore” report revealed that nearly 8 in 10 youths “strongly agree” or “agree” that they spend their time online for entertainment purposes.

It might not be much of a tell tale sign of a growing social problem but the TOUCH Cyber wellness centre has already begun to see an increase in cases of gaming addiction.

The number of counselling cases went up by 40 per cent last year, to 71 cases, compared to 2009.

Anthony Yeong, programme executive with TOUCH Cyber Wellness & Sports, said: “There are some who play because it is an act of achievement for them, they play just for a competitive nature for the fact of satisfying their personal ego. There is also a lot of personal reason that they are playing because of peers who are playing, and in that sense it’s a group activity that they must indulge in.

“Then of course there are also people who are escaping from their real world. They don’t like who they are, they prefer to go into the online world. So there are varying reasons why people will get addicted…these are generally the trends that we have noticed.”

The good news is that about 7 in 10 of those seen at the centre, attain their counselling goals. However, those who are getting addicted are also much younger.

Ray Chua, assistant manager of TOUCH Cyber Wellness & Sports, said: “Our clients are typically about the age of 14-15, so early teenage years, but we are also seeing cases where they are in the upper primary so 11-12 years old, where parents come to us and say their kids gaming habits are becoming out of control and ask us to help them.”

Dr Tan Hwee Sim, a consultant with the Addiction Medicine Department at the Institute of Mental Health, said that the amount of time spent on a computer is not an obvious sign of addiction.

“The actual hours is not a tell-tale sign whether it is an addiction.They will skip school so they can stay home, so they play the game or whether they will play computer games over night. So it’s more of whether you are spending the time that you can afford or not, rather than the actual hours,” said Dr Tan.

Experts have said that the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook may also add to the problem.

Cases of youths addicted to games on such sites are already starting to crop up.

Mr Chua elaborates: “Besides just gaming, we also notice and are observing a lot more people getting into social media, of course instances like Facebook, games such as Mafia wars, Mouse Hunt are all on the rise. To date these are just observations that we have made, there are awareness of this platform, we are still observing.

“But we expect it to go grow and we are expecting that it may get big. For the gaming cases, we actually get kids dropping out of school or failing their exams, not so much for social networks as yet, it’s an area that we are observing.”

-CNA/ac

:::

Other references:

Internet Addiction Plaguing Chinese Youth By Mike Clendenin (InformationWeek, June 22, 2010)

Internet addiction even worries Silicon Valley by Tracy McVeigh (The Observer, Sunday 29 July 2012)

China reins in harsh treatment of internet addicts By Patrick J. Kiger (Science.discovery.com)

Chien Chou et al. Internet addiction, usage, gratification, and pleasure experience: the Taiwan college students’ case Computers & Education, Volume 35, Issue 1, 1 August 2000, Pages 65–80

Internet addiction rehab helps students kick the habit (videoclip): Internet addiction has become a serious issue among young students in Taiwan, at least that’s what Taiwanese politicians are saying. To prevent “deviant behavior” and other social issues resulted to internet addiction among students, the government has introduced internet addiction rehab for kids

C. Chou and M.C. Hsiao (2002 “Internet addiction, usage, gratification, and pleasure experience: the Taiwan college students’ case”. Comput Educ 35 (2000): 65–80.

Martin Fackler (2007-11-18). “In Korea, a Boot Camp Cure for Web Obsession“. New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-0

17% Of Youth Addicted To Internet January 11, 2007

Griffiths, Mark. “Internet Addiction: Does It Really Exist?” Psychology and the Internet: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal Applications. Ed. J. Gackenbach. New York: Academic Press, 1998. 61-75.

Zhou, Y., Lin, F., Du, Y., Qin, L., Zhao, Z., Xu, J., & Lei, H. (2009). Gray matter abnormalities in Internet addiction: A voxel-based morphometry study. European Journal of Radiology. doi:10.1016/j.ejrad.2009.10.025  The study investigated brain gray matter density (GMD) changes in adolescents with Internet addiction (IA) using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis on high-resolution T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance images. Compared with healthy controls, the studied IA adolescents had lower GMD in the left anterior cingulate cortex, left posterior cingulate cortex, left insula, and left lingual gyrus. The study suggested that brain structural changes were present in IA adolescents, providing a new insight into the pathogenesis of IA.

Mosher, “High Wired: Does Addictive Internet Use Restructure the Brain?“. Sci Am Jun 17, 2011. cites “Microstructure Abnormalities in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder” Yuan K, Qin W, Wang G, Zeng F, Zhao L, et al. (2011) Microstructure Abnormalities in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder. PLoS ONE 6(6): e20708. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020708

Video Games and Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control by Hilarie Cash, Kim Mcdaniel

Internet Addiction: The Next Disability? By Andrew R. McIlvaine  HR Executive Online Feb 28, 2007

Sang-Min Whang, L. Lee, S. Chang, Geunyoung.(2003)”Internet Over-Users’ Psychological Profiles: A Behavior Sampling Analysis on Internet Addiction“, CyberPsychology & Behavior,6(2),p143-152

The relationship between excessive Internet use and depression: a questionnaire-based study of 1,319 young people and adults. Psychopathology. 2010;43(2):121-6. Epub 2010 Jan 23.

Viewpoint | is Mobile email addiction overlooked? Communications of the ACM, May 2010  |  vol. 53  |  no. 5 DOI:10.1145/1735223.1735237 Ofir Turel and Alexander Serenko /

Recognize Internet addiction as a mental illness, MD urges Internet Addiction AMM, May 04, 2008: ” Compulsive e-mailing and text messaging could soon become classified as an official brain illness. An editorial in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry says Internet addiction – including “excessive gaming, sexual pre-occupations and e-mail/text messaging” – is a common compulsive-impulsive disorder that should be added to psychiatry’s official guidebook of mental disorders….”

Mobile use ‘may trigger premature Alzheimer’s’ By TIM UTTON, Daily Mail

SATO, Takeshi “Internet Addiction among Students: Prevalence and Psychological Problems in Japan” JMAJ 49(7-8) 279-283, 2006

Zur, O. & Zur, A. (2010): Psychology of the Web & Internet Addiction-A GUIDE for parents and other adults who are concerned about how much young people spend on the computer (social networking sites, such as Facebook, instant messaging or online games) or those who want to learn more about Internet Addiction and Internet Gaming Addiction. Online Publication. Retrieved on Nov 21, 2012 from http://www.zurinstitute.com/internetaddiction.html.

***Editorial note:  While IA is considered to have a negative effect on the brain function of youths, increased internet usage is touted to have beneficial effects for Alzheimers and dementia patients! See Case Study – Alzheimers Society; Almeida OP, Yeap BB, Alfonso H, Hankey GJ, Flicker L, et al. (2012)  Older Men Who Use Computers Have Lower Risk of Dementia. PLoS ONE 7(8): e44239. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044239