Is Internet addiction real?

Doctors don't agree on whether Internet addiction is real or whether it's possible to be addicted to mobile phones, social media, or other kinds of media and technology. More research needs to be done to help us understand when, how, and why people use the Internet and other devices in harmful ways.

One area of particular concern is gaming. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have identified a condition called internet gaming disorder (IGD), which they say could be a kind of addiction, though more research is still needed. But IGD is rare and may be tied to other conditions such as depression and ADHD. People with IGD have brains that in some ways look like the brains of people who are addicted to, for example, drugs and gambling.

Sometimes, what looks like addiction is simply problematic behavior. A balanced approach to using media can correct problematic behavior. Learn more about the difference between Internet addiction and problematic use.

The Child Mind Institute contributed to this article. Learn more at childmind.org.

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Comments

Parent of a 1, 1, 4, and 10 year old written by Suzanne E.

My son is 10 and for sure he has an addictive personality, and gaming is his most common addiction presently. If I tell him to shut down x-box, he grabs my phone, I tell him to put down my phone and he grabs his tablet, them I find myself yelling at him that he is addicted to electronics. It drives me absolutely crazy. I encourage outside play time and play time with his siblings, but this is still an ongoing battle.
Parent of a 1, 1, 4, and 10 year old written by Suzanne E.

My son is 10 and for sure he has an addictive personality, and gaming is his most common addiction presently. If I tell him to shut down x-box, he grabs my phone, I tell him to put down my phone and he grabs his tablet, them I find myself yelling at him that he is addicted to electronics. It drives me absolutely crazy. I encourage outside play time and play time with his siblings, but this is still an ongoing battle.
Adult written by ghost s.

No... the answer is no. We integrate it into our lives for a reason. Taking your kids phone away will do nothing. Just get them to integrate it into their lives better.
Parent of a 12 year old written by Jack L.

Internet addiction can be very strong to certain teens, but it is not real to some.
Teen, 17 years old written by Zane 1

As a teen I would agree that there are times I feel strongly drawn to go online. Sometimes I don't even know what I want to do, but I am drawn none the less. I don't believe there is a sort of mental illness for internet addiction. However; I do think that having an addictive personality can cause addiction towards the internet. It can also be caused by loneliness. When you are online you are connected to the world, when that is taken away one might feel alone. If you are to punish a child for disobedience take their internet away, but also spend time with them. Also, make sure to not push them away from electronics. In the end teens will sometimes go down the path that a parent tries to force them off of. If you see your daughter or son becoming addicted to the internet or games, focus on the addiction part not the games. When I was addicted to gaming, I would think that I made progress in a game. Then my parents helped me to realize that the only real progress can be made in real life. Its like a drug, it gives you that instant satisfaction that life can't give. Its easier to play a game and win then to get a job and make tons of money. Which would you want to do?