Recommendations

More focused research in several areas is needed. First, more needs to be learned
about the actual etiology of the mediated communication syndrome to the extent that it
may truly exist, or whether its characteristics interact with other predispositions. Without
such knowledge it would be prudent to assume that what appears to be Internet
compulsion is masking other problems. Doing so will require conceptualizations beyond
the appropriation of partial symptomatologies from unrelated addictions.

Second, the use of the Internet should be reconsidered and broken down into the
USES of the Internet, setting the stage to learn what specific channels and what specific
activities are being addressed by users. From such a perspective we will better be able to
address whether these uses are achieving functional, neutral, or dysfunctional effects.

Third, careful research should explore the substitutability of apparently
compulsive online behavior as it might actually displace analogous behavior off-line. It
would be highly instructive to know what one does when one’s computer breaks or one’s
therapist helps a client to go off-line. Is there is a concomitant resurgence in barhopping,
pornography buying, face-to-face gossiping, etc.?

Fourth, research should explore the possibility for whom and under what
circumstances online interaction, even at extreme levels, provides a healthy respite from
such chronic issues as filial pressures or loneliness, without which a person would be
even worse off than they would with their recognized usage of Internet facilities. Clinical
and statistical evaluations should be conducted to see whether, once a client no longer
answers “yes” to Internet Addiction diagnostic items, they actually feel better on other
indicators of adjustment, or if they feel worse.

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