Doctor Says Many Suffer from “Internet Addiction”

If anyone needs further proof of how un-informed some people might be when talking about the Internet and online games, just take a look at an article that is currently running in the The Boston Globe. Dr. Jerald Block is presented as being a psychiatrist that specializes in helping those that spend too much time in MMOs. He also wants to coin “Internet addiction” as a new term used in diagnosis. Too bad he
doesn’t really know what he is talking about.

He says that, while many of those that he treats have problems with an addiction to all things related to the Internet, it’s far harder to care for those that have a compulsion to play games over the Internet. In his own words, the doctor says that these “people feel a lot of shame around computer games.”

He goes on to describe the experience of someone that played EVE Online and how, because of what happened to him in the game, the man had to seek treatment. And he says that there are more people like that that need help – naturally, one of the first steps in offering it is to add “Internet addiction” as a possible diagnosis.

Well, I don’t mean to be rude, but the good doctor barely grasps the terms he is using. It’s one thing to be compulsively drawn to MMOs and quite another thing to be addicted to the Internet. There are countless examples of people that are constantly checking their e-mail compulsively, yet the ones that get tagged for being addicted are just the ones playing World of Warcraft. I am not denying the fact that there are those that have an “unhealthy” relationship with games or with MMOs, but maybe this is just a symptom of some deeper problem that they face within themselves rather than a diagnosis in itself.

Coining a term such as “Internet addiction” would only serve to add fuel to the already burning fire of controversy that surrounds videogames in some mediums. A better idea would be to try and understand gamers, those that behave normally and those that act erratically, rather than to simply apply to them such a condescending and unhelpful tag as “Internet addiction” is.

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