Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Addicted to the Internet?

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

When we think of addictions, we typically think of alcohol and drugs. But, are many of us addicted to the internet? The answer apparently is a resounding "yes."

Indeed, according to a study conducted by scientists in Italy and the United Kingdom, habitual internet users often experience heightened heart rates and blood pressure when they go offline. And, according to an article posted on Scroll.in, these physical changes are similar to those found in people who cease their frequently used sedatives and opioid drugs.

Given what seems to be the truly addictive nature of online activities, a new classification known as Problematic Internet Usage is being considered as an actual disorder for further investigation. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association is contemplating the inclusion of Problematic Internet Usage as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Still, more research and information is needed relating to the impact of internet cessation on human physical functions for a hard classification relating to Problematic Internet Use.

The study monitored the heart rates and blood pressure of 144 participants who ranged in age from 18 to 33. Those who self-reported high internet usage rates experienced increases in heart rates and blood pressure like when one is suffering from anxiety. The findings of the study have caused the authors to theorize that negative physical and psychological changes when not on the internet could drive people back onto the internet even when they truly wish not to be online. This apparently shows the addiction component.

While there are services and support groups to help people address addictions to alcohol and drugs, likely more can be done to help those who are addicted to the internet. And internet addiction can be difficult to grapple with, because in this day and age, the internet is all around us and is practically impossible to avoid for business and social purposes.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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