Can the internet be as addictive as drugs or alcohol

quest7

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 29, 2011
42
0
oklahoma city
Internet addiction is not officially recognized by doctors and other health-care authorities, but a small study done in China suggests that teens hooked to the net suffer from a form of brain damage.

Researchers studied the brains of 17 teens and found that those addicted to the internet appear to show damage to their white matter and the fibres that connect it. This suggests that heavy internet use, like alcoholism and gambling, may be linked with cognitive impairment.

Several psychological studies have described internet addiction as an impulse-control disorder, an overwhelming desire to stay online that impairs an individual's ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

The authors of this new research say that internet addiction "may share psychological and neural mechanisms with other types of substance addiction."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunit...rnet-be-as-addictive-as-drugs-or-alcohol.html
 

ender land

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2010
876
0
I think it'd be interesting to add a poll to this thread asking something like "should you be doing something else right now?"

;)
 
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Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
17 teens is a pretty small sample
Maybe but generally speaking when starting research like this they are just looking for a proof of concept so to speak to see if it is worth spending the time and money for a much larger sample size.
 
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ag3nt47

macrumors member
Jan 11, 2012
45
0
Missouri
I think it can be addicting, especially now that social networking and constant updates over the internet have become so popular. Before Facebook was so popular and some felt the compelling need to update their status every time they changed activities of the day, maybe not so many people felt an addiction to it. It's not just social networks either. News, blogs, personal web pages / forms, etc, they all fall under the category of things that most people feel the need to check, but don't really need to. I don't consider myself "addicted" to the internet (like I am to caffeine), but I'm sure some would argue that maybe I do spend a more time on the web than necessary per day. A lot of people would probably tell you that they don't spend too much time on the internet, but they probably fail to consider every time they check their smartphone for email, apps, etc. If it accessed your carriers data plan, guess what.. it was the internet. Just my two cents.
 
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eric/

Guest
Sep 19, 2011
1,681
13
Ohio, United States
Yes. You can be addicted to many things, and the Internet is certainly one of them. Though I think except extreme cases, Internet addiction isn't life threatening or impairing.
 
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416049

macrumors 68000
Mar 14, 2010
1,844
2
Though I think except extreme cases, Internet addiction isn't life threatening or impairing.
I agree with you although usually when it because life-threatning it tends to be linked with other issues and internet addiction may just add to the problems..

On the other hand i do think internet addiction would have an extreme impact upon social life-isolation, loss of friends and family contact.... the list goes on.
 
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0098386

Suspended
Jan 18, 2005
21,574
2,909
Anything that can be physically or mentally processed can be addictive. Gambling, cannabis, games, skydiving, etc. Psychological addiction.

So I'd say the internet could be addictive.
 
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Pixellated

macrumors 65816
Apr 1, 2008
1,100
0
Surely anything that you enjoy is addictive... Because you'd want to do it again, wouldn't you?
 
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kolax

macrumors G3
Mar 20, 2007
9,181
115
I can go a week without a drink of alcohol and other drugs I've done during my rather stupid first year of uni I never got addicted to.

The internet, if I go 24 hours disconnected, it isn't a particularly nice feeling, and I must get my fix.

Though, I went on holiday for 2 weeks last summer, and couldn't find any WiFi for my iPhone. Was surprisingly refreshing, felt like a weight off my shoulders. I ended up watching the local TV news bulletin in a beach bar to see what was going on in the world. Watch the news on the TV? Man, it felt like the 90s.
 
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chrono1081

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2008
7,658
1,778
Isla Nublar
I can go a week without a drink of alcohol and other drugs I've done during my rather stupid first year of uni I never got addicted to.

The internet, if I go 24 hours disconnected, it isn't a particularly nice feeling, and I must get my fix.

Though, I went on holiday for 2 weeks last summer, and couldn't find any WiFi for my iPhone. Was surprisingly refreshing, felt like a weight off my shoulders. I ended up watching the local TV news bulletin in a beach bar to see what was going on in the world. Watch the news on the TV? Man, it felt like the 90s.
Its similar with me too. If I can have internet, I need it. If I am forced to go without it its refreshing (although very restricting since most of my stuff I do relies on the internet). It sucked not being able to download new textures to work on a 3D project ;)
 
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wordoflife

macrumors 604
Jul 6, 2009
7,563
34
I got a 24 on that test.

I do think the internet can be addictive though. Maybe not physically such as drugs, but mentally it can be just as strong.
 
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ChristianVirtual

macrumors 601
May 10, 2010
4,096
266
日本
56; but expected 42 :rolleyes:

Of course it can be addictive; my wife twitter like hell; i have my iPhone with me on the "throne". I guess that's cleary a sign ...
 
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VulchR

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2009
2,371
11,067
Scotland
I've studied the brain's reward system in 4 different species (humans included), so FWIW this is my educated opinion:

I would have a healthy skepticism about equating white matter damage with addiction. Damage to white matter is a fairly generic form of damage. It can happen for a lot of reasons, including simply old age. Also, it's hard to tell whether apparent brain abnormalities make people vulnerable to addiction, the abnormalities are caused by addictive behaviour, or the abnormalities are caused by the absence of healthy behaviours (lack of sleep, poor nutrition due to a bad diet).

Typically if one wants to look for evidence of addiction there are behavioural criteria, the most important of which is impaired everyday function with respect to family, money, employment, the law etc. There is some evidence that compulsive internet use can cause that kind of impairment.

Also, there are brain patterns that seem to be related to addiction, including activation of the midbrain areas that use dopamine as a neurotransmitter, the basal ganglia, the amygdala and parts of the prefrontal cortex. I haven't seen any peer-reviewed papers in regard to plain web surfing and brain activation. However, there are several papers on brain activation and video gaming (including internet gaming), and the pattern of activation is just like that seen in other rewarding activities, including eating, drinking, sex, and also drug-taking. The problem is that drugs activate the same circuits as natural rewards, so its hard to tell the difference between brain activation due to normal pleasure versus abnormal brain activation that results in the brain rewiring we believe leads to addiction (that's right kiddies, taking drugs changes connections among neurons, rewiring the brain, even if you feel no adverse effects).

I believe the evidence is strong enough that video gaming can be addictive that I personally cringe any time I see a young person playing a games console. If it turns out that gaming is addictive, it'll probably be like drugs, with about 10% of the population being rather vulnerable to it.
 
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KOZOK

macrumors member
May 2, 2011
65
0
I got a 13.. I thought it was interesting that it doesn't take scores under 20 into account and just lumps them into the "You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage." category. Which basically just confirms my belief that any time spent online is too much and the internet is a big waste of time and effort.
 
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