Term Paper: Iad on Today's Society

Pages: 16 (4754 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] When IAD begins to affect the sufferer's work and livelihood, this can only have a negative effect on the sufferer's personal relationships.

Further, those in intimate relationships with the IAD sufferer are often largely unaware of the disorder, and often attribute the IAD sufferer's odd behaviors personally. For example, the amount of time an IAD sufferer spends online is often seen as a direct and personal rejection. Since the intimate partner does not understand the nature of the addiction, it is often difficult to understand, or empathize with the IAD sufferer. This lack of empathy is also often a source of additional strain on the relationship.

Certainly, IAD has an impact on those in less personal relationships with the IAD sufferer. Work colleagues and associates may find the IAD sufferers behaviors puzzling at best, and disturbing and unconventional, at worst.

Further, IAD plays a role in society as a whole. IAD costs our society by greatly reducing productivity at work. IAD sufferers are often unable to control their addiction at work, and waste valuable time and computer resources surfing the Internet while at work. This costs corporations untold amounts of money.

Some of the societal costs of IAD are often more subtle. IAD hurts society as a whole by intelligent individuals from potential interactions with society. These people could potentially be better, and more useful members of society, if the grip of IAD did not have them so tightly in its grasp.

The symptoms of IAD include the following: "1) Using the online services everyday without any skipping, 2) Loosing track of time after making a connection, 3) Goes out less and less, 4) Spending less and less time on meals at home or at work, and eats in front of the monitor, 5) Denying spending too much time on the Net, 6) Others complaining of your too much time in front of the monitor, 7) Checking on your mailbox too many times a day, 8) You think you have got the greatest web site in the world and dying to give people your URL, 9) Logging onto the Net while already busy at work, 10) Sneaking online when spouse or family members not at home, with a sense of relief" (Addictions and Life Page).

Interestingly, this list of symptoms illustrates one of the problems with the definition of Internet addiction. How much is "too much time on the Net," and how do you define going out "less and less"? If IAD is to be considered as a serious mental disorder, issues like this must be clearly and decisively resolved among researchers into IAD. Until this is done, IAD will remain a fringe disorder.

Interestingly, Dr. Kimberly Young, the founder of the Center for Online Addiction, and netaddiction.com, has identified five types of IAD. These are: 1: cyber sexual addiction, 2) cyber-relationship addiction, 3) Internet compulsions, 4) information overload, and 5) computer addiction.

Cyber sexual addiction occurs when the individual is obsessed with pornography on the Internet, and/or adult Internet chat rooms. Cyber-relationship addiction occurs when online friendships are made in chat rooms, role-playing games, or newsgroups. Cyber sexual addiction can also take the form of online affairs. Internet compulsions occur when the individual participates in online gambling or day trading, or online auctions. Information overload, one of the forms that is the least familiar to the lay public, occurs when the individual exhibits compulsive Internet or database searching. Finally, computer addiction occurs with obsessive playing of computer games, or obsessive programming.

Dr. Ivan Goldberg coined the term Internet Addiction Disorder. He argues that the key feature of the disorder is that the sufferer will continue to use the Internet, despite knowing that their behavior is socially, physically, occupationally, or psychologically damaging to themselves or others.

Interestingly, there are a large number of Internet sites which offer quizzes that attempt to offer self-diagnostic tools for IAD. They ask questions about the amount of time spent online, whether Internet usage has resulted in job loss or financial losses, and whether Internet usage has resulted in damage to personal relationships.

Certainly, it is not clearly understood why the Internet is so addictive for those suffering from IAD. The social interaction on the Internet may be its greatest appeal. This includes interactions by e-mail, chat or even gaming. Critics argue, however, that the social seeking behavior of the online "addict" is not the same as that of the reward seeking-behavior of the slot machine addict.


The methodology that is proposed in this research paper will outline the procedures for developing and implementing a survey on Internet usage patterns.

Certainly, there are a variety of confounds which may become important in any survey of Internet addiction. Survey respondents will be assessed for a history of previous mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Further, health problems and disabilities will be assessed, and survey participants will be asked about their history of other addictive disorders, like alcoholism or problem gambling.

Given that current Internet use is divided equally among men and women, the survey will consist of 50% males, and 50% females.

The survey will cover a wide range of ages, but will only focus on those of legal age in the United States, due to legal considerations.

Interestingly, the current literature on Internet addiction has a great many inconsistencies. Further, according to John M. Grohol, Psy.D., in the Internet Addiction Guide, none of the current studies "agree on a single definition for this problem, and all of them vary widely in their reported results of how much time an 'addict' spends online." This survey will attempt to clarify some of these inconsistencies, bring IAD into clearer focus, and silence many of the criticisms of previous research on IAD.

To date, research on IAD has consisted almost exclusively of surveys that were not designed to draw a causal relationship between specific behaviors and their root cause. These surveys were not able to define if the Internet was the cause of the maladaptive behaviors of those studied.

Many case studies have also investigated the phenomenon of IAD. These, while highly informative, do not give us much information about the disorder as a whole. Certainly, there are many of us who have heard the urban legend of the women who was so addicted to Tetris that her husband left her, and her children no longer recognized her. These case studies are often invaluable in gaining public recognition of IAD, but from a scientific standpoint, they have very little constructive to offer the serious researcher, or even the serious layperson on the serious topic of IAD.

One interesting theory is that what researchers often term as IAD is simply a "phasic" behavior (Grohol, 1999). These critics argue that the IAD diagnosis is just simply the reflection of new users on the Internet, who are fully and completely immersing themselves in this new technology. Interestingly, this argument supposes that the initial phase of Internet usage is followed by a period of disillusionment, where the new user avoids Internet usage. After a time, Internet use will eventually drop to normal levels. Accordingly, the survey proposed here will attempt to distinguish if this phasic behavior exists, by attempting to determine the length of the respondent's Internet use.


Hypothesis: Maladaptive patterns of Internet usage can lead to addictive disorder.

Summary of Research Findings

Treatment Options for Overcoming IAD

Interestingly, there are a wide variety of treatments for IAD. While many therapists feel that IAD can be cured, most therapies seek simply to modify the behavior of the IAD sufferer, rather than cure the root causes of the IAD.

Treatments for OCD are varied, and based largely on what is seen as the root cause of IAD. Since the field of psychology is so varied, perhaps it is not surprising that the treatments for IAD are varied as well.

Interestingly, some researchers see IAD as an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). An OCD, as defined by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, is characterized by "thoughts, images, ideas, or impulses that are persistent, and are intrusive and cause distress." In turn, Nolen-Hoeksema sees compulsions as "repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the individual feels he or she must perform to erase his or her obsessions." In the OCD model of IAD, an individual can become obsessed that a crucial, important e-mail is waiting for him or her.

Biological theories of psychology note that OCD has a neurological basis. Specifically, people with OCD are not able to turn off impulses within the brain. Interestingly, PET scans show that there is increase blood flow in specific areas of the brain in people with OCD. Drugs that help regulate the neurotransmitter serotonin sometimes alleviate the symptoms of OCD.

Cognitive-behavioral therapies of OCD also suggest that sufferers cannot turn off negative thoughts, resulting in compulsive behaviors. In the Cognitive-behavioral model, the sufferer may be already depressed and anxious, concerned that they cannot control their thoughts, and the behavior is the only way that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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