Friday, October 28, 2011

When Does Internet Use Cross the Line From Fun to Trouble?

Today’s adolescents have grown up clutching cell phones, “friending” on Facebook, and tweeting on Twitter, often for many hours a day. Most of the time, there’s nothing pathological about how teenagers use electronic media, said speakers yesterday at APA’s Institute on Psychiatric Services in San Francisco. However, there’s little agreement on what constitutes the boundary of “problematic” Internet use, said Tristan Gorrido, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital. “There’s some combination of excessive use, lack of impulse control, and functional impairment,” said Gorrido. “Internet addiction can be seen as a harbinger of other problems, like ADHD, social phobia, depression, mania, substance use, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

Often problems arise because young people simply don’t appreciate the harm that can befall them or others from indiscreet postings to the electronic cloud. Educating them to that reality, seeking out and treating any underlying psychiatric problems, and working with parents can lessen the effects of problematic electronic behavior, concluded Liwei Hua, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan. For more information, see Psychiatric News.

(Image: JanVlcek/


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