Volume 94, Issue 89

Friday, March 9, 2001


Ice T concert melts down - Poor sales, schedule conflict cited for cancellation

Car crash sends two to hospital

Bigger gut may equal smaller brain: study

StatsCan study says student debt doesn't stop schooling

Gov't considers limiting cell usage

Study identifies Net addiction

Gun violence in schools in must stop

Planet Me

Study identifies Net addiction

By Kristina Lundblad
Gazette Staff

Drinking, smoking and gambling can all turn into serious addictions – and according to a York University professor, surfing the Net can too.

Richard Davis, a PhD candidate in the department of psychology at York, has been doing research into online behaviour for the past three years, he said.

Not calling the condition "Internet addiction," but instead "Pathological Internet Use," he said he focuses on cognitive processes rather than behavioural patterns.

"The term 'addiction' is a poor description," he said, explaining that in psychology terms "impulse control disorder" is more appropriate.

"People with PIU have a certain characteristic way of thinking which is particular to them," Davis said, explaining some have thoughts such as, "I am a failure offline" or "I have power online."

At the same time, sufferers often believe they will never be successful offline.

To determine whether or not an individual has PIU, Davis suggested vigorous testing be conducted through questionnaires.

But according to Bernie Monette, an education and training specialist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the diagnosis of such an addiction can be difficult. "[Using the Internet] is a private sort of thing, done just in front of the computer, unlike smoking or drinking in a bar," he said.

He added he was unaware of the condition Davis described. "I had never really heard of [Internet addiction] as a formal diagnosis."

"There are people who smoke and refuse to call themselves addicts," said Paul Whitehead, a Western professor from the department of psychology. "The idea of Internet addiction is nothing new."

Davis said the problem could particularly affect students. "There is a higher incidence with graduate and undergraduate students," Davis said.

The treatment Davis suggests for PIU is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy, the same model used for depression, anxiety, and gambling. An "Internet Usage Log" would be part of the treatment, Davis said, in which the PIU patient would record how many hours they were online and what they were thinking while they were using the Internet.

Davis also has an online treatment program where Internet addicts can seek help at www.internetaddiction.ca.

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