Internet Addiction

Internet Addiction

Does internet addiction really exist? If does exist, what are people addicted to?

The term of internet addiction was coined in the mid-90s by Dr. Ivan Goldberg. It is an addiction or abuse of “process”. It is not an addiction or abuse of a substance. Technological addictions are operationally defined as non-chemicals (behavioural) addiction that involved human-machine interaction.

Another term frequently used is “Pathological Internet Use” that was coined by Dr Kimberly Young.

What makes internet attractive?

It is easy to access, affordable and convenience. It also provides anonymity and escape from a real world.


Symptoms of uncontrolled use of internet:

  • Increasing preoccupation with, and using a lot of time, money and energy on internet-related activities. Problems occur when the internet becomes the most important one in the teen’s life. It dominates thinking, feeling and behavior.
  • Unpleasant feelings (e.g., low mood, anxiety, loneliness, emptiness) when not online.
  • Negative impact on work/school performance – deterioration in school attendance and academic performance.
  • Problems develop in existing relationships.
  • Difficulty in forming new offline relationships.
  • Tolerance can develop. The user needs to spend ever-increasing amounts of time online to feel the same sense of satisfaction.
  • If they can’t go online, the user experiences unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, moodiness and compulsive fantasizing about the Internet. Using the Internet relieves these symptoms.
  • The user turns to the Internet to cope with negative feelings such as guilt, anxiety or depression.
  • The user spends a significant amount of time engaging in other activities related to the Internet (such as researching internet vendors, internet books).
  • The user neglects other areas of life (such as relationships, work, school and leisure pursuits) in favour of spending time on the Internet.
  • The user is prepared to lose relationships, jobs or other important things in favour of the Internet.

If you are having the above problem, get help from your parents or teachers.


The Internet is a productive tool, but research findings document serious negative consequences when used in an addictive manner.


  1. Griffiths, M.D. (1999). Internet addiction: Fact or fiction? The Psychologist: Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 12, 246-250.
  2. American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnosticand Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (4th edn). Washington, DC:American Psychiatric Association.
  3. Kwok-Kei Mak, Ching-Man Lai, Hiroko Watanabe, Dong-Il Kim, Norharlina Bahar, Milen Ramos, Kimberly S. Young, Roger C.M. Ho, Na-Rae Aum, and Cecilia Cheng. Epidemiology of Internet Behaviors and Addiction Among Adolescents in Six Asian Countries. Cyberpsychology, Vol 17 (11) 2014
Last Reviewed : 20 November 2017
Writer : Dr. Harlina Bt. Bahar
Accreditor : Dr. Siti Aishah Bt. Saidin