Internet addiction: Going without it as tough as quitting alcohol, cigarettes

by Jenny Novac on July 28, 2011

It is as hard to give up the Internet as it is to quit drinking or smoking. That’s the conclusion of a new study by a consumer research group. The Internet can be a useful tool, informing us and keeping us connected in ways we never dreamed of just five years ago. But can this pervasive technology be addictive?

Quitting alcohol, cigarettes


In the research by the group Intersperience, when people are deprived of the Internet, 53% feel upset and 40% feel lonely, even if they’re denied access for a short time.

“I think they’re more dependent on the Internet. I wouldn’t really say addicted,” commented 17-year-old Yuki Sui.

“I wasn’t raised with it,” said Marla Ruiz, a mother in her 30s. “So it’s something that I can go a day, two days, a week without it. It doesn’t bother me. Now the kids, that’s different. I don’t think they can go two minutes without it.”

She might not need it, but five members of Ruiz’ family have Internet technology that’s an arm’s length away, even on vacation.

Drinking the beer and smoking a cigarette

Drinking the beer and smoking a cigarette

“When I get home, and I’m finished with my homework, I’ll get on for like a couple of minutes,” said 14-year-old Malorie Ruiz. “And then after that I’ll go texting or something.”

If being away from the World Wide Web even one day makes you feel anxious, fidgety and isolated, you are not the only one. There are even some rehab programs for people with Internet addiction.

Next year, the official manual for the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) will include “Internet addiction” as a diagnosis.

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