Chicago (IL) – Internet addiction should be considered a true mental illness, according to a recent editorial published in the prestigious American Journal of Psychiatry. Jerald Block MD says excessive online gaming, porn surfing along with e-mail and text messaging are signs of mental collapse and “merit inclusion” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V).
Block pointed to ten deaths in South Korean Internet cafes as sure signs of addiction. He adds that the average high school student in South Korea plays online games 23 hours a week and that more than 210,000 children required treatment for excessive gaming and Internet usage in 2006. Chinese figures show that 13.7% of teenagers are addicted to the Internet, according to Block.
Internet addiction is a real mental illness because it exhibits four characteristics said Block. The first is that online addicts lose the sense of time or neglect basic needs like sleeping and eating. Addicts also feel anger or depression when their computers are inaccessible. Block claims that online addicts continually buy better computer equipment or software. Finally, he says online addiction has serious negative repercussions like social isolation and poor achievement. Basically, he’s just described most World of Warcraft players I know. Trust me, I know hard it is to quit.
Interestingly enough, Dr. Block owns a patent on a way to restrict computer access. According to the Journal, this was not considered to be a conflict of interest in publishing the editorial.
You can read Dr. Block’s editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry here.