Internet Use: Where do we draw the line on where to draw the line?

man with hand on temple looking at laptop
Photo by bruce mars on

Is modern living on a collision course or going through a re-set for the next phase of human development? A few new reports this week would suggest we have been riding an inflection point for a while now and we may be reaching the shores of a new normal…cue the nostalgia?

A new report in European Neuropsychopharmacology calls for a manifesto on problematic use of the internet (PUI). Naomi Feinberg from the National Health Service (NHS) and colleagues lay out the realities of ten plus years of internet use, many uses of the internet have been positive, like fast connectivity to people and information. Problematic aspects have also emerged; like engaging in compulsive gambling, excessive use of social networks and compulsive sexual behavior. A growing understanding of these issues is leading to the development of new diagnostic categories like the recent new code for Gaming Disorder; newer diagnostic types are not without controversy. The report outlines nine key priorities to inform future developments for research, intervention and treatment options. These include:

1. Reliable consensus-driven conceptualization of PUI (defining main phenotypes and specifiers, related comorbidity and brain-based mechanisms)
2. Age- and culture-appropriate assessment instruments to screen, diagnose and measure the severity of different forms of PUI
3. Characterize the impacts of different forms of PUI on health and quality of life
4. Define the clinical courses of different forms of PUI
5. Reduce obstacles to timely recognition and interventions
6. Clarify the possible role of genetics and personality features in different forms of PUI
7. Consider the impact of social factors on the development of PUI
8. Generate and validate effective interventions, both to prevent PUI and to treat its various forms once established
9. Identify biomarkers, including digital markers, to improve early detection and intervention


Back to Basics

Another exciting development comes from Scotland, clinicians in Shetland will now start prescribing nature walks as a means to improve blood pressure to help their patients reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke. Nature connects us back to the essence of our humanity and reinforces our sense of belonging. The evidence is growing on the healing power of nature, and it is also an antidote to the stresses we may experience from excessive use of technology- are we seeing a return to the basics for health?. It will be interesting to look at the results as this rolls out more broadly across the NHS in Scotland.

Shifts in Belonging in the 21st Century

IKEA released an interesting report on life in the 21st Century which had some interesting findings. Maslow’s hierarchy of need lists food and shelter as the base of a pyramid of human needs for happiness. This report would suggest home doesn’t feel like home anymore; the economic shifts experienced globally have translated into more people moving home with parents, sharing with roommates until later in life and 45% of Americans report sitting in their car to get some quality alone time. This report shows some alarming shifts for how we self-sooth in an era where home seems less a place of belonging.  Our spaces for psychological safety would seem to be shrinking.

It is clear modern living is taking a toll on our mental and physical health and countries, and health systems are moving toward solution building to combat the negative impacts. It will be fascinating to see how the research community contributes to the understanding of what works.
Thanks for reading – Trina
(Opinions are my own)


Manifesto for a European research network into Problematic Usage of the Internet

Scotland Prescribing Nature

IKEA report

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