Internet addiction or problematic use?

There is no definition of internet addiction that researchers agree upon. Some argue that psychologically and physiologically, internet addiction has likeness with substance abuse and gambling. Others, myself included, argue that it is better to talk about problematic use of contemporary media and skip the idea of addiction. This way of thinking is underpinned by the idea that the use in itself is not a problem, as would be the case if we were talking about illegal drugs. Instead, we must focus on a) whether or not the use causes problems and b) for whom it causes problems.

If you want to find out if people are in fact addicted to their mobile phone, Facebook, the internet, etc, you need to clearly define what this “addicted to” means. Does it mean that you use the internet a certain amount of hours per day? This definition can easily be criticized; time is not as important as what you do during this time. Is it good or bad for you, basically?

Does the internet use stop you from doing normal things like eating, sleeping, doing your homework, working, hanging out with people you like, etc? Then there is a problem, but for most people this problem is not solved by taking away the internet. Just like when people can’t handle food, work, sex or other normally normal things in life. Instead, we need to work out ways to keep the good and get rid of the bad.

And, very important when it comes to children: is the internet a problem for the child or for the people around her? I will write some more about this later this week, how we tend to treat children and how we can identify power structures between generations. Stay tuned!

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