Published On: Thursday, May 18, 2017|Categories: Parents, Student Health, Tenney Subscribers|

When you buy something you don’t need and consume it to the detriment of other activities in your life it begins to look like an addiction. Buying technology and becoming obsessed with technology to the detriment of the rest of your life is clearly some kind of addiction. There are plenty of people who are calling it a disorder. They have dubbed it “Internet Addiction Disorder” (IAD).

Seeing the Addiction as a Disorder:

In a way, technology addiction is like alcohol or cigarette addiction. Technology is a legal product. There are strong social status rewards associated with it. It’s hard to define exactly where it becomes insidious. Using technology, like video gaming or using the internet, covers many potential dangers and many kinds of obsession which can harm participation in real life. Internet Gaming Disorder is already formally recognized as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, v.5.

Technology addiction includes cybersex and online porn addiction. Video gambling can be ruinous in many lives. The temptation to click “buy now” on eBay or other auction sites can be overwhelming, and sometimes as ruinous as gambling. Many people occupy large proportions of their lives texting or immersed in social media. These forms of internet use look real on the surface, but are really fraught with fantasy and self-deception. (Source:

Psychiatry has been hotly debating the issue or inclusion of IAD as a separate category of mental disorder since 2012.

According to The International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine,

[for some] the medium…exhibits features of impulse control disorder recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.”

A large-scale epidemiological survey estimates that the prevalence of “problematic internet use” is nearly one percent (.7 percent) of the population. The American Psychiatric Association found that the number of people in the U.S. spending more than 20 hours a week on the internet nearly doubled between 2008 and 2015, amounting now to more than 43 million people. A Pew Research study found that 50 percent of 13 to 17 year-olds go online several times a day and nearly 25 percent are online “nearly continuously.”

A study published in the journal, Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, describes evidence that

“…certain prefrontal functions, in particular executive control functions are related to symptoms of internet addiction…”

The journal does hedge a little bit, not declaring that there is a strong cause and effect relationship between IAD and brain structure change, but saying that there are “several similarities with findings in substance dependency.” Research does point to a correlation between IAD and depression, school problems, obesity, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Do Schools Play a Role in IAD?

In the Australian state of Queensland, computer coding has been introduced as part of the compulsory school curriculum. Queensland has joined England, Belgium, Finland, Estonia, and the Netherlands in providing a more intense study of computer technology.

The recognition of the importance of computer education comes, even among the educators themselves, with the warning that the training may “do more harm than good when used in excess.” Child development expert, Dr. Michael Nagel recently sent a message of caution to the school authorities saying, “When we are talking about kids at four and five years of age, we have rafts of research that tell us what kids need more than anything is to get out and play.” Many parents are concerned that children are missing out on “real world experiences” like playing outdoors.

An article in Forbes last year cited a recent study of 3,000 middle and high school students in Finland, finding that internet addiction is leaving some students feeling burnt out at school. In turn the school burnout leads to more time on the internet, creating a vicious cycle that leads to increasing rates of depression. This study does not support the notion that schools cause IAD, but that IAD significantly affects students’ interaction with schools. As school work requires increasing use of the internet, does the schoolwork force the students into greater immersion in the internet?

The Tenney School believes that every student has a different learning style, and school curriculum should be flexible to meet each student’s individual needs. Please contact us to learn more.

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