Rebecca Shafir

The American Medical Association (AMA) is looking to determine whether Internet Addiction should be considered an official diagnostic category. Since an “Internet addiction” has been becoming a more frequent “off-the-cuff” complaint of parents and adult patients during neurofeedback intakes, I decided to see whether a formal category exists. 

The authors of “i-Brain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind (2008 Collins Living) a new book by Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan propose five criteria for Internet Addiction Disorder. If you meet all five criteria, chances are an Internet addiction is present: 

1) Preoccupation: The person constantly thinks about previous and future online sessions.

2) Tolerance: Longer periods of online activity are needed to feel satisfied.

3) Lack of Control: The person cannot cut back or stop online activities.

4) Withdrawal: Irritability and other mood changes occur when the person tries to stop online activities.

5) Staying online: The user remains online longer than intended.

Furthermore, if the user has demonstrated at least one of these behaviors, an Internet addiction is highly likely:

  • jeopardized a job, educational opportunity or a relationship
  • led to concealment of the online activity, and/or
  • been used as a means of escaping problems or relieving uncomfortable feelings.

Seeking the help of a psychotherapist specializing in addiction disorders can be helpful in taming the symptoms associated with an Internet Addiction Disorder.