Internet Addiction Guide by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. January 5, 2012

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What is Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)?
What "Internet addiction disorder" (IAD) is still difficult to define at this time. Much of the original research was based upon the weakest type of research methodology, namely exploratory surveys with no clear hypothesis or rationale backing them. Coming from an atheoretical approach has some benefits, but also is not typically recognized as being a strong way to approach a new disorder. More recent research has expanded upon the original surveys and anecdotal case study reports. However, as I will illustrate below later, even these studies don't support the conclusions the authors claim.

The original research into this disorder began with exploratory surveys, which cannot establish causal relationships between specific behaviors and their cause. While surveys can help establish descriptions of how people feel about themselves and their behaviors, they cannot draw conclusions about whether a specific technology, such as the Internet, has actually caused those behaviors. Those conclusions that are drawn are purely speculative and subjective made by the researchers themselves. Researchers have a name for this logical fallacy, ignoring a common cause. It's one of the oldest fallacies in science, and one still regularly perpetrated in psychological research today.

Do some people have problems with spending too much time online? Sure they do. Some people also spend too much time reading, watching television, and working, and ignore family, friendships, and social activities. But do we have TV addiction disorder, book addiction, and work addiction being suggested as legitimate mental disorders in the same category as schizophrenia and depression? I think not. It's the tendency of some mental health professionals and researchers to want to label everything they see as potentially harmful with a new diagnostic category. Unfortunately, this causes more harm than it helps people. (The road to "discovering" IAD is filled...
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