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New tech 'addictions' are mostly just old moral panic

Andrew Tarantola

The World Health Organization took an unprecedented step in January when it decided to include "gaming disorder" in its 11th International Classification of Diseases (IDC). Though doctors and researchers have examined the effects of heavy internet usage since the days when access arrived on AOL CDs, this marks the first time that the organization has listed this disorder as a mental health condition. Doing so could have far-reaching, and potentially negative, implications for how the disorder is diagnosed and treated.

But video games aren't the only aspect of internet society that has people concerned. A 2016 study by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that helps teens and their parents navigate modern media, found that nearly half of the teens surveyed described themselves as "addicted" to their phones. In August of the same year, British media watchdog Ofcom's survey found that 60 percent of people in the UK felt themselves similarly addicted. Even Selfitis -- the compulsive need to take and post pictures of yourself to social media -- is now considered a genuine mental health disorder.