facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Are Teens Hooked on the Internet?

Trouble in River City—or maybe not. Lack of quality research fuels “Internet addiction” fears.


Internet addicts or just kids?
Photo via thinkstockphotos

By Dirk Hanson


| Share

First, it was pool. Then comic books. Then pinball machines. Then violent TV shows. Then violent video games. Then violent web pages. And now, well, it’s sometimes hard not to fall in with the legions of detractors who see signs of “Internet addiction” wherever they look among American youth. But no matter how troubled their elders may be by the hours kids spend on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any of a million other possible websites, when parents turn to the science on the subject, they won't find many answers.

Investigators from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and from the University of Washington went digging through the medical literature, searching for all the reputable studies available on the subject of problematic Internet use. Then they subjected all of those studies to rigorous methodological scrutiny, and concluded that…they really couldn't conclude much of anything at all. If Internet addiction exists, you certainly couldn’t prove it on the basis of existing scientific research, anyway.

In the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the researchers concluded, somewhat anticlimactically: “The evaluation of problematic Internet use remains incomplete and is hampered by methodological inconsistencies…..Despite the newness of this area of study, most studies in our review were published more than three years ago.” Out of 600 possible studies, the researchers had to throw out all but 18  due to low-quality reports, low response rates, and missing data. At this point, it appears that Internet addiction remains more folklore than fact.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
What's Up, Doc?

I took my addicted self from private health insurance to MediCal—it wasn't that bad, until I visited the psychiatrist.

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv