Internet addiction is a social ill that saps the potential of youth, drives men from their wives, and reduces worker productivity. But now there's a cure.
China combats internet addiction through detoxification camps. In South Korea, one goes rock climbing and in Singapore roving psychologists visit schools to educate students before they are old enough to use a mouse.
Pathological computer use in the U.S. is not approached with quite the same intervention techniques that it is in Asia. In fact there are no dedicated internet recovery camps in the US. But that could all change if the American Psychological Association decided to include internet addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
A proposal to add interminable hours spent in front of an LCD monitor was first voiced a year ago by Dr. Jerald Block, a Portland-area psychologist. Much of the clinical community dismissed his editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry, but when Big Think spoke to Block today he said internet addiction still demands inclusion. "What you essentially get are drop-outs from society leading to suicide and potentially even homicide." There is anecdotal evidence of bloggers who have died at their trade, but short of death, the perils are rife: sleep disorders, weigh gain or loss, and the anti-sociality implicit in the activity.
Block has seen an uptick in addiction cases since his editorial and he says there has been a greater acceptance in the clinical community of treating excessive internet use as a "distinct diagnosis" rather than a complication associated with other widely recognized disorders like depression.