Using the internet has become part of modern society and is changing people’s lifestyles socially, psychologically, and economically. Most individuals depend on the internet and are yet to understand that over-dependence is causing an addiction that can be detrimental socially and mentally. While many people believe that using the internet is typical in technological and contemporary society, some individuals spend more time on the internet than necessary, interfering with their everyday activities. When an action becomes uncontrollable and hinders performing essential activities, it becomes an addiction that needs immediate addressing. Over the years, psychologists and medical researchers have proposed adding online addiction to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM has not acted upon the matter because of insufficient evidence on excessive internet users’ health, mental, and social effects. However, the more society ignores the dangers of internet addiction, the more it spreads and grows and may lead to an uncertain future. This essay analyses the impacts of internet addiction, which may explain why it should be included in the DSM-5 by drawing evidence from Greg Beato’s essay Internet Addiction.
The current popularity and utility of the internet undermine basic reasoning and decision-making. An internet addict prefers to access the internet than necessary utilities such as food, shelter, and proper dressing. Beato tells the story of a teenager choosing to be homeless than quitting computer games on the internet (Par. 7). The 18-year-old is an example of addiction which causes changes in behavior, reasoning, and disrespect to elders over things that do not add value in one’s life. Forfeiting basic needs for the internet indicates a mental disorder because individuals act against the usual character of human beings. Including the disorder in DSM-5 will help control internet addiction and maintain the natural order of things.
Internet addiction causes severe problems in family and social relationships. Individuals prefer to spend more solitary time on the internet than socializing, which gradually leads to social challenges such as communication. Internet addicts are prone to anger outbursts when people question their addiction or try to take their technological devices to access the internet. Children become defiant and cause rifts in their relationships with parents to the point of violence and criminal activities. Apart from the 18-year-old choosing a game over having a home, another teenager from Ohio murders a parent because they prohibited him from using his Xbox all the time (Par. 7). Although Greg narrates this story as a passing comment, it carries serious implications about internet addiction that more people might encounter if the disorder is not controlled.
Consequently, parents neglect their children’s social and safety responsibilities because of internet addiction. Parents who spend much time on phones, computers, and other digital devices fail to monitor their children’s growth and development emotionally and character-wise. Addiction to the internet creates emotional detachment as the individual gets more satisfaction in social interactions and pays less attention to physical surroundings. Apart from emotional detachment, addiction to the internet can cause physical danger to children left unattended. According to Beato, a couple in South Korea neglected their child, causing its death due to an online game, “Prius Online,” involving taking care of a virtual baby (Par. 8). The couple spent so much on competing online against other parents, unaware of the danger of leaving their child unattended. If the game involved other parents, more children could be affected by the addiction to Prius Online games. Including internet addiction as part of mental disorders can curb incidents of child negligence because of online addiction.
Addiction to the internet also has severe physical and mental health problems. Serious migraines, backaches, and sleeping disorders are associated with too much time online. In the essay, “a guy who spent so many sedentary hours at his computer developed blood clots in his leg and had to have it amputated (Par. 7).” Although indirectly, the individual still suffered from spending long hours seated while surfing online. Addiction causes anxiety disorders, depression, and behavioral changes such as compulsion disorders. A study among college students indicated that the students felt depressed and anxious about staying away from the internet for 24 hours. The detrimental health effects call for action to control and treat the addiction through the DSM-5 criteria.
Heavy internet use causes time mismanagement and delays school, home, and work activities. Spending too much time on the internet among college students significantly impacts their social and academic lives. Addicted students experience sleep disorders, social isolation, difficulty submitting assignments, and poor performance. Others skip meals and reschedule many classes, causing delays in course completion or suspension from school. In Beato’s essay, a student loses his scholarship because of online addiction leading to academic suspension. The inability to perform daily activities as scheduled indicates an addiction disorder that needs addressing to enhance normalcy, such as setting important priories like academics first.
It would be prudent to admit that internet addiction is real and spreading faster than any other addiction. As much as the internet helps in many aspects of life, spending too much time online leads to addiction and adverse effects on addicted persons. Addiction impacts extreme internet users’ social, mental, and physical well-being. The most significant impacts of online addiction are child negligence, violence, social isolation, anger outbursts, anxiety disorders, poor decision-making, sleep disorders, severe migraines, and time mismanagement. Beato’s essay on Internet Addiction should be an eye-opener on how quickly the online addiction trend is growing, which will result in more negative impacts if the disorder is not addressed clinically.
Beato, Greg. “Online Addiction.” Reason Magazine, 2010.