Is Internet Addiction for Real?

Brian's Take on Tech

Bringing you info about technology, and how it impacts your life for better and worse.   -Brian K, Community Partnerships Supervisor

774 - Neuron Connection - Pattern by Patrick Hoesley

I like learning about the human brain and behavior. A couple years back, I read Nicholas Carr's 2010 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, in which the author investigated whether his internet usage was affecting his ability to concentrate. It's a fascinating book that includes a good deal of historical background--I believe the history of reading and writing was covered--and it convinced me to keep some time each day dedicated to activities that do not require screens of any sort. And obviously as our internet use continues to evolve and change--like navigational hardward, going from using a mouse on a laptop to physically caressing the internet with swipes and taps on a tablet--I remain attuned to Pew research and other news about human-computer/web interaction.

So, when I came across this infographic on, I was drawn in. The source,, while psychology-related is a somewhat unlikely source being focused on helping those interested in an advanced degree in psychology find information on programs and career paths. Anyhow, it's an interesting infographic, though take it with a grain of salt. One of the sources sited at the end (the Time article, "Does the Internet Really Make Everyone Crazy?") questions the assumption of the brain's rewiring being shocking and harmful--people can get the dopamine hit from different inputs depending on their habits--but the idea of an FB notification causing something like Pavlovian dog salivation makes me a bit dissatisfied with our internal reward mechanisms. It should also be noted that the American Psychiatric Association's DSM site lists Internet Addiction Disorder to be printed in the section of DSM5 reserved for disorders that require more research--it's not a recognized disorder, but a proposed one that requires more research for confirmation.

Those quibbles aside, I believe every internet user should be conscious of their use--how long they're on, what they're doing online, what they want to do but don't because they got wrapped up online, and so on. Really, being mindful about how we live our lives and spend our time in general is important. One small piece of that is ensuring that our needs and our families' needs are being met before we head back to Farmville or try to crack out a good one-liner page update.

Without further ado, the infographic. And below it, links to the sources sited in the image.

Facebook Psychology - Attention Span Statistics

CNN's topic page for Attention Deficit Disorders - "Depression, ADHD Increase Teens' Risk for Internet Addiction"

American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder's page on Internet Use Disorder - "Does the Internet Really Make Everyone Crazy?" - "Internet Addiction is the New Mental Health Disorder"

Pew Research Center Publication - "Facebook: A Profile of its 'Friends'"

Annenberg Public Policy Center Report - "Media in the Home 2000"

Newsweek - "Is the Web Driving Us Mad?"

Psychology Today - "What Your Facebook Account Says About Your Brain"

Image credit (top of post) "774 - Neuron Connection - Pattern" by Flickr user Patrick Hoesley, used under CC license

Infographic: "Facebook Psychology: Is Addiction Affecting Our Minds?"

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