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The Internet has become a basic tool for trading, entertainment,

communication, as well as education in the contemporary world.
Nevertheless, despite the high speed of information flow and
potential educational value of the Internet, there are several
attributes of the Internet which may foster addictive behavior. These
attributes include easy and flexible access 24 hours a day; anonymity;
provision of free, diversified, and unlimited number of social
networks without geographical boundaries; greater control over ones
self-presentation; and provision of numerous opportunities to fulfill
the need for belongingness as well as to escape from emotional
difficulties, problematic situations, and personal hardships.
Internet addiction commonly refers to an individuals inability to
control his or her use of the Internet (including any online-related,
compulsive behavior) which eventually causes ones marked distress
and functional impairment in daily life. Research findings have shown
that excessive use of Internet or Internet addiction adversely affects
ones physical health, family life, and academic performance.
Concerning the negative consequences of Internet addiction on ones
physical health, persistence of sleep deprivation may harm ones
immune system, thus increasing ones vulnerability to assorted
diseases. The lack of exercise due to excessive use of computer by
maintaining a sitting posture may also risk suffering from carpal
tunnel syndrome, back pain, and eyestrain. Concerning family
problems caused by Internet addiction, family relationships are
seriously disrupted by Internet addicts due to the decrease in time
spending with family, reluctance of performing family duties such as
doing household chores, and increase of conflicts with family in the
negotiation for time spent on the Internet. Academic problems
caused by Internet addiction include decline in study habits,
significant drop in grades, missing classes, increased risk of being
placed on academic probation, and poor integration in extracurricular
activities. Besides, adolescent Internet addicts often suffer from
severe psychological distress, such as depression; anxiety;
compulsivity; feeling of self-effacement; fear that life without Internet
would be boring, empty, and joyless; as well as feeling of loneliness
and social isolation. In addition, people addicted to the Internet
games may excessively imitate the behaviors and values of the
characters in online games.
In view of the possible negative influence of Internet addiction on
human development, there is a need to have a thorough
understanding of the nature of Internet addiction. There are several
sections in this chapter. First, a historical review of Internet addiction
is presented. Second, the conceptualization and assessment of
Internet addiction are discussed. Third, prevalence data of Internet
addiction are described. Fourth, major theoretical accounts of
Internet addiction are presented. Fifth, risk factors and protective
factors related to Internet addiction are discussed. Sixth, intervention
models of Internet addiction are outlined. Finally, the future research
directions are examined.