In the podcast, Dr. Fu discussed his research on the prevalence of internet addiction in Hong Kong, the findings of which were published as a paper in the June issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is the main professional organisation of psychiatrists in the UK and is well know for showcasing leading work in psychiatry.
It is unusual for the College to feature the work of a social scientist such as Dr. Fu. However, his research is of great interest to the College as he has found evidence to suggest that internet addiction, which is not currently recognised as a psychiatric disorder, is indeed a mental disorder, both in its own right and in association with other conditions.
“We should pay attention to this new phenomenon as young people are expected to spend more time on the internet through new media, social media and mobile devices,” said Dr. Fu. “But at the same time, we should try not to turn normal human behaviour into mental illness. We should do it cautiously.”
Dr. Fu hopes that clinicians will take note of his research.
The American Psychiatric Association is in the process of revising its DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), the gold standard of defining mental disorder, with the fifth edition due to be published in May 2013.
Dr. Fu’s research is pertinent because the DSM5 committee is considering whether to classify internet addiction as a behavioural addiction. It hasn’t added internet addiction to the manual’s appendix before because of “insufficient research data currently available”. Details about DSM5 can be found here http://www.dsm5.org/.
Hear the podcast here: