What is Problematic Internet Use

What is Problematic Internet Use
What is Problematic Internet Use?
“The Internet appears to be capable of altering the mood, motivation, concentration,
and producing a dissociating and disinhibiting experience for users; for some
individuals, patterns of use can transform to abuse, taking on a compulsive quality.
.........Many of the daily spheres of behaviour, including work, appear to be effected
by this powerful technology.” Dr David Greenfield, Centre for Internet Behaviour
Problematic Internet addiction or excessive Internet use is characterized by
excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges, or behaviours regarding
computer use and Internet access that lead to impairment or distress. The problem
of excessive Internet use is something that is more common in adolescent males
than females and nearly always linked to online gaming sites. In severe cases, the
gaming takes over the person's life to the exclusion of all else.
Whilst 'Internet Addiction' is not currently included in DSM IV (Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Edition IV) it appears to be a common
disorder that warrants inclusion on DSM V. What this means is that currently, as the
disorder is not recognised, it cannot be 'diagnosed'. This can pose a problem for
patients trying to access medical treatment rebates. It is of course a welldocumented problem around the world, often with tragic consequences. In Asia for
example, there have been many deaths attributed to the continual and excessive
playing of online games.
Computer games are very different to what you as parents may remember when a
'disc' was inserted into a computer and you played with no more interaction than the
screen. Computer games now involve connecting to the Internet (Online) and the
player is interacting with other 'gamers' around the world. This can also be a concern
when young children connect with people that they do not know. (See Online
Grooming fact sheet)
Risk Factors
You suffer from anxiety
You suffer from depression or are depressed
You have been diagnosed with an ADHD type illness
You have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome
You lack social support
You are an 'unhappy' teenager
You are bored
You are less mobile (you have a physical disability)
You are lonely and have few friends in the 'real' world
You are stressed (you use games as an escape from your problems)
Anomie (a lack of social norms; "normlessness". It describes the breakdown
of social bonds between an individual and their community).
Loosing track of time online
Having trouble completing tasks on time (homework / chores)
Isolation from family and friends (replacing real friends for only online friends
or other gamers)
Feeling guilty or defensive about the time you spend online - "I don't have a
problem, you are the one with the problem"
Feeling only happy when in the 'gaming' environment.
Withdrawal from daily activities (school refusal / withdrawing from sport
Physical Symptoms can include:-Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (pain and numbness in
hands and wrists), dry eyes or strained vision, back aches and neck aches, severe
headaches, sleep disturbances, pronounced weight gain or weight loss
What can you do?
Acknowledging that your child has a problem around their use of online games can
be very confusing. It often moves from a manageable stage to one that appears
hopeless. Making sure that from the very first game your child plays online you play
too. You need to see the content of the game to ensure suitability and also to
understand the way the game works. Make sure the content is age and
developmentally suitable for your child. The fact that others in your child's grade play
the game is not a good guide as to its suitability for your child. Check not only the
'rating' of the game, view the content as well. World of Warcraft or WOW for short, is
noted by researchers and practitioners around the world as the most psychologically
damaging and addictive game on the Internet. Set very clear rules about your child's
online gaming and have strict time limits. If you see you’re child continually trying to
push the boundaries, staying online for longer than allowed or logging on when you
are out or asleep, then do not ignore these signs. There are four defined levels of
Pathological Internet Use or PIU and corresponding treatment options: Level 1 – Mild impact / early problems
Treatment - in house efforts, family support, self-help
Level 2 – Increased impact /social circle notices (school, peers)
Treatment - Associates, school counsellor
Level 3 - Clinical impact, specific interventions indicated
Treatment - Clinical Psychologist
Level 4 - Addiction or PIU, major or whole social role impacted (takes over their life
to the exclusion of all else)
Treatment - Psychiatric / inpatient plus medication considerations
For further information please visit NIIRA.org.au which, is the only
organization in Australia devoted to the issue of Problematic Internet Use
(Internet Addiction). You can download a self-assessment tool called
i.m.p.r.o.v.e. that will help you to identify the level of problem you may be
experiencing within your family.
Copyright © Cyber Safety Solutions 2012
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