Ever since its development in the early 1990’s, the Internet has become highly pervasive across most of the civilised world. While the majority of Internet users take advantage of its many positive uses (including professional and recreational ones), some individuals can develop Problematic Use of the Internet (which we will refer to as PUI). This term encompasses a wide range of repetitive disabling behaviors characterized by compulsivity and addiction. These include, but are not limited to, Internet gaming, compulsive online sexual behaviors/ cyberpornography, Internet-related buying or shopping disorder, Internet-related gambling disorder, cyberbullying, cyberchondria, and social media/network forum use, among others.
Although PUI affects a minority of individuals who routinely use the Internet, several reports have documented a series of unhealthy lifestyles and medical disturbances which are thought to represent the consequences of severe forms of PUI, especially when it comes to youth. People affected by PUI and their family members often do not know about the signs and symptoms of this condition. For example, they do not know how to recognize PUI, or whom to go to for help, and often they do not know whether this is a treatable condition and/or how to manage it. Because of this, National Health Authorities around the World are concerned about the health and societal costs that PUI may have. Some researchers are starting to consider particular forms of PUI as a serious and disabling form of behavioral addiction.
We developed this companion book in an attempt to provide an easily accessible guide for the public, patients, caregivers, family members, and health care professionals presenting a state of the art overview of PUI. This initiative stems from the work of an international panel of experts participating in a 4-year COST Action project “European Network for Problematic Usage of the Internet” CA16207, funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union, which began in October 2017 and whose Principle Investigator, Prof. Naomi Fineberg, aimed to bring a multidisciplinary and geographically diverse group of experts and opinion leaders together under one European-led network to: advance the understanding of PUI from a bio-psycho-social perspective, to clarify brain-based causal mechanisms, and to develop effective interventions for the various forms of disorder.
|COST action CA16907 and ICOCS (the International College of Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders)
|Published - 22 Oct 2020