Is Internet Addiction a Thing?

Internet addiction has become an international trend that is forcing people to reconsider the negative consequences of over exposure to the world wide web.

What is Internet Addiction?

Internet addiction is a relatively new trend in the medical community that attempts to categorize people suffering negative personal side effects of an over-exposure to the internet. Internet addiction, while being addressed in places such as China and South Korea, has yet to be fully accepted in North America. Internet addiction has been associated with a myriad of negative side effects such as social isolation, depression, decreased academic performance and altered interpersonal relationships.

Problems Associated with Internet Addiction

Internet addiction can affect different realms of people’s lives, including personal relationships, employment, academics, and one’s own physical health. Alfred University’s Provost W . Richard Ott investigated why normally successful students with 1200 to 1300 SATs had recently been dismissed. To his surprise, his investigation found that forty-three percent of these students failed school due to extensive patterns of late night log-ons to the university computer system (Young, 1999). Matrimonial lawyers in the United States have reported seeing a rise in divorce cases due to the formation of such Cyberaffairs stemming from excessive internet use (Young, 1999). One survey from the nation’s top 1,000 companies revealed that fifty-five percent of executives believed that time surfing the Internet for non-business purposes is undermining their employees’ effectiveness on the job (Young, 1999). The widespread availability of the internet has the potential to cause alarming personal issues for people lacking knowledge and understanding of its addictive qualities. 

Internet Addiction in China

China, along with other Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, is at the forefront of diagnosing and treating people with internet addiction.  Internet addiction is currently becoming a serious mental health problem among Chinese adolescents (Cao and Su, 2007). Studies of Taiwanese College students found that the incidence rate of internet addiction among Taiwan college students was 5.9%.  In 2005, the Beijing judge Shan Xiuyun estimated that ninety per cent of the city’s juvenile crime was Internet-related—a remarkable notion at a time when less than 10% of the nation’s population was online (Osnos, 2014). Many in China blame increased youth internet addiction on a rigid social class system that preaches conformism and stifles any thought of upward mobility. Are we in North America blind to an increased reliance and dependence on digital technology?


Aldama, Z. (2015, January 17). Inside the Chinese Boot Camp Treating Internet Addiction. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Cao, F., & Su, L. (2007). Internet addiction among Chinese adolescents: prevalence and psychological features. Child: care, health and development, 33(3), 275-281.

Osnos, E. (2014, July 28). Talking to China’s “Web Junkies”. The New Yorker. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from

Young, K. S. (1998). Internet addiction: The emergence of a new clinical disorder. Cyberpsychology & behavior, 1(3), 237-244.

Young, K. S. (1999). Internet addiction: symptoms, evaluation and treatment. Innovations in clinical practice: A source book, 17, 19-31.

Additional Resources:


Is it fair to place internet addiction next to other forms of addiction such as drugs and gambling? Is North America behind the 8-ball when it comes to diagnosing and treating internet addiction? Please post your thoughts and let me know what you think!

One thought on “Is Internet Addiction a Thing?”

  1. Great post, Colin. My wife was reading in article in the Toronto Star about a teen that was addicted to gaming. The article is really relevant to what you posted and provides really good information to statistics about addiction in the digital age. Also, there are helpful links to various resources and supports for people with electronic addictions. You can find the article by clicking on this link:

    On another note, I think that it is really important that a child’s technology use needs to be monitored. Children should not be allowed to play games endlessly. Conversations with children regarding technology use might be important in this case as well.


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