"Internet-Use Disorder" Being Added to New DSM Edition

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 2 2012 12:10 PM

"Internet-Use Disorder" Being Added to New Edition of DSM

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Professor Tao Hongkai talks with an Internet addicted boy at his room during a summer camp on August 15, 2005 in Beijng, China

Photo by Cancan Chu/Getty Images.

Everybody panic: Internet-use disorder is a thing now. Kind of.

The new version of the DSM—the international psychiatric diagnostic manual—will list "Internet-use disorder" as a condition "recommended for further study." Essentially, they're saying that some people who spend a lot of time on the Internet demonstrate similar symptoms to people diagnosed with other addiction disorders, and that the psychiatric community should study it and consider promoting it to a full-blown disorder down the road. In other words, no one's getting a diagnosis, yet.

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The classification seems to stem from previous concerns about gaming addctions in kids, as Russia Today's write-up of the DSM change explains:

Australia was one of the first countries to recognize the problem and offer public treatment, and established clinics to treat video game addiction. That such widely used technologies can cause deep harm to children has lead to further examinations of adults habits surrounding devices used 24/7 for reading, gaming, and social interactions.

For those of you who are rolling your eyes a bit at yet another addiction in the public eye, the Slate archives have you covered: Christopher Lane explains the madness behind the DSM-V process and examines some of the more absurd sounding disorders considered for inclusion in recent years. As he puts it:

"If you spend hours online, have sex more frequently than aging psychiatrists, and moan incessantly that the federal government can't account for all its TARP funds, take heed: You may soon be classed among the 48 million Americans the APA already considers mentally ill." 

Meanwhile, Vaughan Bell laments the "creeping medicalization of everyday life" and asks if we're pretty much just addicted to being addicted.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.