Study: Internet Addiction Definition Passe

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TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 28 (UPI) — The hours and hours many teens spend on the Internet daily can contribute to their healthy development, an Israeli researcher says.

Moshe Israelashvili of Tel Aviv University, graduate student Taejin Kim and colleague Dr. Gabriel Bukobza studied 278 teens, male and female, from schools throughout Israel.

The researchers found many teens were using the Internet as a tool for exploring questions of personal identity and successfully building their own future lives using what they discover on the Web.

“Facebook use is not in the same category as gambling or gaming,” Israelashvili said in a statement. “Researchers should redefine the characteristics of the disorder called ‘Internet addiction’ in adolescents.”

The researchers asked the teens to rate themselves in terms of Internet use, ego clarification and self-understanding, and how well they related to their peer group.

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescence, discovered there was a negative correlation between Internet overuse and the teens’ levels of ego development and clarity of self-perception — an indication that some Internet use is destructive and isolating while some is informative and serves a socializing function.

Psychiatrists classify an “Internet addict” as a person who spends more than 38 hours on the Internet every week, but it’s the quality, not the quantity that matters, Israelashvili said.

Although many teens who participated in the study met the psychiatric standard of Internet addiction, they were using the Internet as a tool to aid in their journey of self-discovery, the researcher said.

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