The Internet is a conduit leading to an ever more inter-connected world, enabling millions of users instant access to vast repositories of information, enhancing opportunities for social networking and commercial ventures alike. However, the proliferation of internet use may be viewed as a double-edged sword, with the rise in internet access being linked to a potentially dangerous disorder – internet addiction.
Whilst not yet officially codified within a psychopathological framework, there is an increased focus on internet addiction both within the media and the public consciousness. In the absence of formal diagnostic criteria, most researchers currently model problematic internet usage on problematic gambling, extrapolating between one compulsive non-pharmacologically addictive behavior to another. Given the rapid rise in internet use, there is a high likelihood that this disorder – which poses a considerable risk to those suffering with an underlying psychological co-morbidity – may yet take on epidemic proportions.
In a new commentary for BMC Medicine, Dimitri Christakis discusses the epidemiology of internet addiction focusing on improving diagnosis, understanding and potential treatment strategies for this increasingly prevalent disorder.
To learn more about this exciting topic and other articles of broad biomedical and clinical interest visit the BMC Medicine website.