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Addiction to Internet Soon to be Included as a Mental Disorder: Report

Update Date: Oct 01, 2012 07:57 AM EDT
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Parenting is certainly not easy. Among a million things that a parent needs to take care of, one of the most important areas that a parent needs to be alert about is to keep their children away from addiction of any sort. And these days, addiction is not limited to substance abuse, but also extends to addiction of electronic gadgets and the internet.

Psychologists around the world are certainly aware and are working on it.

Reportedly, if a new addiction, included as ''internet-use disorder'' is confirmed by further research, it will be included in the worldwide psychiatric manual, and children addicted to using electronic devices 24/7, will be diagnosed with a serious mental illness.

The formal inclusion of the new addiction focused on internet gaming has already been welcomed by Australian psychology professionals.

"With kids, gaming is an obvious issue. But overall, technology use could be a potential problem" ... Mike Kyrios, Professor of Psychology was quoted saying by The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Herald spoke to the parents of the children, as young as 7 years old and found that children get aggressive, irritable and hostile when their iPads or laptops are taken away from them.

There is an argument among psychologists that screen addictions have characteristics similar to other addictions, including emotional shutdown, lack of concentration and withdrawal symptoms if they are kept away from their gadgets and games.

Recognizing the possible threats of addiction to devices, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), will include internet-use disorder as a condition ''recommended for further study'' in its revised edition in May next year, the report said.

The inclusion would mean that overuse of technologies would be classified under internet-use disorder alongside other mental disorders. However, there still needs to further research conducted on the subject, before it is recognized as a mental illness, and can be formally diagnosed.

Professor Mike Kyrios from Swinburne University of Technology says that further studies into disorder would make it easy for health professionals to diagnose children with addictive behaviors and will also help in treatment, including strategies to deal with their obsession.

''With kids, gaming is an obvious issue. But overall, technology use could be a potential problem,'' he said.

Emil Hodzic, a psychologist with years of experience, established a video game addiction treatment clinic in Sydney's CBD in January, says that he has seen children as young as 12 year olds, being addicted to the internet and video games.

''The most typical sign of addiction is anything that looks like withdrawal symptoms,'' he said according to the report.

 ''So any expression of distress, frustration, irritability when they don't get to play.''

According to Hodzic, many of his clients, most of whom are children and adolescents, show symptoms of addiction, which is close to anxiety and depression.

''A lot of kids I have coming into the clinic have difficultly in being able to tolerate distress without zoning out via the internet or via the games,'' Hodzic said.

However, psychiatrist Rhoshel Lenroot, the chairman of child psychiatry at the University of NSW, opines that it is still too early determine how exactly technology overuse could affect children and adults.

''I think [it] can be dangerous in not learning how to pay attention in a focused way, but in balance there is nothing wrong with technology," Lenroot said.

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