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Internet addiction needs treatment

Internet addiction should be recognised as a disorder needing treatment, experts say.

Flinders University senior lecturer in social work, Dr Mubarak Rahamathulla, has conducted research which shows the link between internet addiction and deviant or harmful behaviour on social media.

According to Rahamathulla, internet addiction is not currently recognised as a disorder, meaning that those affected are not being treated, and often experience increased mental strain that can manifest itself as problematic behaviour online.

“Society doesn’t recognise the multi-dimensional, complex problems of individuals with internet addiction disorder,” he said.

“Individuals with the condition will not be diagnosed or offered support and treatment, which causes enormous additional psychological strain, and can lead to problematic deviant behaviours in cyberspace.”

“Our research argues that individuals with internet addiction may feel victimised and so will feel compelled to engage in a range of deviant behaviours in social media to vent their emotional strains."

Rahamathulla's research into general strain theory, where negative experiences in life can result in problem behaviours, found a very high likelihood that internet addiction sufferers will vent their frustrations anonymously online, create social and psychological problems for other internet users, and lead to possible crimes.

Adult respondents in Rahamathulla’s study also reported that their online sexual correspondence through social media was adversely affecting their real-life relationships.

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