Will Internet Addiction Be an Official Mental Illness this Decade?

The updated version of  the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will be out in 2013. Internet Addiction could be added. The DSM-5 is the bible of mental health professionals for making official medical diagnoses of mental illness in its various forms. It has huge ramifications for all mental health patients since insurers base their coverage on the DSM and questions about whether an individual qualifies for disability are answered based on what the DSM says.

Internet Addiction will not likely be added to this version. But the issue has been opened up for debate. While likely will not be included in the DSM-5, it obviously does not make it less of a problem. We all know the Internet is having a severe impact on our lives in countless ways. It’s an activity that was not in existence just 15 years ago and now, the average person is online at least a few hours each week. It’s not uncommon for our children to be online for hours at a time.

No one can yet truly quantify or qualify the real impact the Internet has had on society. What I do know for sure is that like anything else, it has it’s good side and its bad side. The easy accessibility to information is wonderfully empowering. It’s fun. It’s educational. Etc.   And yes, it is addictive. We don’t need the DSM-5 to tell us that. People’s lives are being sucked up into cyberspace. Availability of uncensored content is potentially corruptive and destructive.

Thought needs to be put into how to properly include online life in our general lives. Do we allow our kids to chat for hours via Facebook? Do we need to install filters to block bad content? Do we need to set time limits on our computers? Should we push for laws to require control over what is accessible? Should online gambling be legal?

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