Many Americans are displaying behavior patterns similar to addiction when they use the internet.
As NPR reports, the over-use of internet has gone hand in hand with dysfunctional behavior and depressive or anxious spirals for many individuals. Some internet users display what Anna Lembke, a Stanford University psychiatrist, calls the "natural narrative" of addiction: progressively frequent and intense use "followed by a pattern of consequences like insomnia, dysfunctional relationships and absent days at work or school."
In some cases, as this NPR report relates, addiction-like internet use can encourage or ennable self-isolation and dangerous behaviors. The teenager featured by this article stopped her usual activities, spent excessive time alone, became emotionally volatile, and then looked up videos on how to commit suicide and followed the instructions she found in a suicide attempt. She was then treated in an inpatient facility for addiction recovery.
Some mental health professionals interviewed by NPR express the opinion that internet addiction should be classified with other addictions as a mental disorder. However, if unhealthy levels of internet use are to be classified as an addiction, they must be treated more like an addiction to food or exercise than to alcohol or drugs, says Jeff Nalin, head psychologist at the aforementioned inpatient facility: the addiction is to something necessary, in today's world, for adaptive living when it is used at healthy levels.