Young becoming internet addicts

A number of young people could be growing addicted to the internet, such is their level of usage of the web, new research has shown. Published in BioMed Central (BMC) Medicine, the study revealed four per cent of US college students were deemed either in the 'occasional problem' or 'addicted' range of an Internet Addiction Test.

The investigation was carried out by Dr Dimitri Christakis of Seattle Children's Institute - which aims to prevent, treat and eliminate paediatric disease - and showed that increasing problematic use of the net is a growing cause for concern.

Dr Christakis noted the findings - which also showed a link between internet overuse and moderate to severe depression - illustrate treatment and intervention may be advisable for those most vulnerable.

He added: "Given the Internet is woven into the fabric of the lives of this generation of children, concerns about the potential for addiction are warranted."

Professor Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University, a Chartered Psychologist, noted that this is the latest in a growing number of studies suggesting that overuse of the internet can result in negative consequences for a minority of users. 

He commented: "Most studies that have examined excessive internet use have used screening instruments that tend to exacerbate the prevalence of 'internet addiction' and there is also a big difference between people who have addictions on the internet and people who have addictions to the internet."

Professor Griffiths said that a person who is addicted to online gambling is not an internet addict but a gambling addict who uses the medium of the web to facilitate their primary addiction. He also added: "True cases of people genuinely addicted to the internet are very rare."