A New Disorder is Born
Young has proposed a model for IAD known as the ACE model - Accessibility, Control, and Excitement. She argues that these three aspects of Internet use encourage addictions. One problem is that most forms of media have ACE components. For example, TVs are accessible, remotes give us a great deal of control, and there's plenty of sex, gore, and action on TV. The same is true of non-media activities such as rock climbing or golf. Now it is true that living close to a golf course increases accessibility and thus the likelihood of developing an intense interest in golf, but using that as an argument for creating an addiction disorder for golf seems strange. It is equally strange when it is done for the IAD.
More importantly, the ACE model leaves out one very important fact. Not everyone gets "addicted". In fact, I know many first-person shooter gamers who find MMORPGs to be the most boring games in the world (and vice versa). If IAD were solely caused by aspects of the technology, then either everyone or no one would get addicted. In other words, whatever is causing IAD has to involve something more than just pointing fingers at the technology itself. It's got to have something to do with the individual as well.
The emphasis on the media creates the illusion that the blame belongs to the media itself. It portrays the Internet as a predator that every person can fall prey to. But the more we look, the less this seems to be the case. Being addicted to one thing makes you more likely to be addicted to other things. People who are depressed are more likely to spend too much time online. People who are diagnosed as online gaming addicts typically have other problems - such as depression or low self-esteem. Recent studies show that one out of ten teenagers is depressed. The overall picture is quite clear, internet addiction may just be an expression of other well-understood problems such as depression. In other words, it may have more to do with the people than it does with the technology.
For a long time, we've known that people who are severely depressed may do harmful things to themselves, but whether we create a whole new set of "addictions" to explain it (and shift the blame from the person to the technology) or whether we call it as it is - depression, low self-esteem, etc. - is very much a social decision that is tied to the paranoia and mindset of the world we live in. If IAD were really about the person rather than the technology, then taking away the technology alone won't solve the problem. And if the technology isn't really the problem, then why create a disorder that stigmatizes a technology and its users?
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