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.