In our technology-savvy population, mental health professionals are seeing an increasing trend of excessive Internet use or Internet addiction. Researchers in China, Taiwan and Korea have done extensive research in the field of Internet addiction. Screening instruments are available to identify the presence of Internet addiction and its extent. Internet addiction is frequently associated with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, conduct disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Treatment modalities include individual and group therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), family therapy and psychotropic medications. A significant proportion of Singapore adolescents engaging in excessive Internet use are also diagnosed to have concomitant Internet addiction. Despite the presence of a variety of treatment options, future research in this area is needed to address its growing trend and to minimise its negative psychological and social impact on the individuals and their families.
The Internet has in recent years become ubiquitous in the lives of young persons and children due to rapid information technology (IT) development, high speed wire connection, easy accessibility and increasing affordability. Its growth has also been fuelled by a huge customer demand created by social and print media, advertisements and peer influences. Singapore has been ranked as one of the top three Asian countries to have a high proportion of its population accessing and using the Internet. In our technology-savvy population, mental health professionals are seeing an increasing trend of excessive Internet use or Internet addiction. Much is not known about its presentation or treatment options. This paper intends to summarise the phenomenology and pathogenesis of Internet addiction and its available treatment modalities.
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