Me too. An American Journal of Psychiatry editorial says Internet addiction should be added to the official guidebook of mental disorders:
Like other addicts, users experience cravings, urges, withdrawal and tolerance, requiring more and better equipment and software, or more and more hours online, according to D. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Dr Block says people can lose all track of time or neglect "basic drives," like eating or sleeping. Relapse rates are high, he writes, and some people may need psychoactive medications or hospitalization.
Mind Hacks dissents:
Rather curiously, the editorial mentions the figure that 86% of people with 'internet addiction' have another mental illness. What this suggests is that heavy use of the internet is not the major problem that brings people into treatment.
In fact, 'internet addiction', however it is defined, is associated with depression and anxiety but no-one has ever found this to be a causal connection.
Recent research shows that shy or depressed people use the internet excessively to (surprise, surprise) meet people and manage their shyness.
And in fact, as I mentioned in an earlier article, one of the only longitudinal studies on the general population found that internet use is generally associated with positive effects on communication, social involvement, and well-being, although interestingly, those who were already introverts show increased withdrawal.
In other words, the internet is a communication tool and people use it manage their emotional states, like they do with any other technology.