The concept of “Internet addiction” is a pet hate of mine, as it really doesn’t qualify as any kind of genuine or quantifiable disorder, but gets thrown around in pop science conversations as if it’s an actual social issue.
I find it comes up quite a lot in China, as a lot of people do spend a lot of time using the Internet here. Having got frustrated with being unable to talk about the nuances of this, I’ve written the points below in the hope that I can get my point across properly next time.
This hasn’t been completely edited yet so there’s a lot of dodgy Chinese in there. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks a lot to the users at Chinese Forums for working on this.
“瘾症”相比于“过量” "Addiction" vs "excess"
上瘾一个东西和过于那个东西是两回事。 There's a difference between being addicted to something and just doing it excessively.
过于上网不是跟医学或精神病有关的事情。 Excessive use of the Internet is not a medical or psychiatric issue.
把它相较于其他有意思的活动：去电影院，看书，散步，跟朋友聊天等等。 Compare it to other enjoyable activities: going to the cinema, reading books, going for walks, chatting to friends etc.
做这些事做得太多的人的例子多的是，可是没有说是“瘾症”。 There are plenty of examples of people who do these things "excessively", but no-one says those are "addictions".
理念没有道理 The concept doesn't make sense
“网络成瘾症”这个理念将意味着“网络”是一种可以下定义的活动。 The concept of "Internet addiction" implies that "the Internet" is some sort of definable activity.
实际上，网络的作用有着无数的多种多样的。 In fact, there are countless, varied uses for the Internet.
网络是一个相通的渠道，而不是物质或具体的活动。 It's a communication medium, not a substance or specific activity.
这个好像说一个人上瘾了“交通”，“艺术”或“政治”。 It's like saying that someone is addicted to "transport", "art" or "politics".
我听过在韩国的父母因为忙于玩游戏而让他们的孩子死了的那个例子。 I've heard the example of the parents in Korea who let their child die because they were too busy playing video games.
我不否认这件事发生了，可是一个例子算不上证据。 I'm not denying that that happened, but one example doesn't count as evidence.
判断的标准需一致并可量化。 You need consistent and quantifiable criteria.
那两个人不是因为过于上网而忽视他们的孩子。 Those people did not neglect their child because they used the Internet too much.
他们是因为患有一种使他门忽视孩子的基础精神病而过于上网。 They used the Internet too much because they had some underlying problem that also caused them to neglect their child.
这显然是将属并列关系的两件事误解成为因果关系了。 This is an example of confusing two things that have a common cause with one thing that causes another.
“诊断”的人经常有其他问题 People "diagnosed" often have other problems
诊断患有“网络成瘾症”的人差不多总是也有其他的困难。 People "diagnosed" with "Internet addiction" are nearly always diagnosed with other difficulties as well.
患有一种精神病使人过于上网，并不是反之亦然。 Having some sort of mental disorder causes people to use the Internet excessively, not the other way round.
过于上网是其他问题的症状，而不是原因。 Excessive Internet use is a symptom of other problems, not a cause of them.
需要处理的是这些其他问题，而不是过于上网。 These other problems need to be dealt with, not the excessive Internet use.
过于上网_是_不好，就不是关键。 Excessive Internet use _is _bad, it's just not the core problem
这个不是说过于上网不是问题。 This is not to say that excessive Internet use isn't a problem.
就是说那个不是根本的原因，也不是需要另外处理、跟医学或社会有关的问题。 It's saying that it's not the root cause, and it's not a medical or social issue that needs to be addressed in itself.
并无足够证据表明长时间上网本身是个问题。 There's no good evidence that spending a lot of time online is problematic in itself.
The neuropsychology blog MindHacks has a lot of excellent coverage of this, in particular:
And some examples of the silliness: