Speaking as a man who is intimately & personally experienced with many types & facets of addiction, I answer this query thusly:
My 'yes' comes very easily as I just look across the room at someone who sits at a screen voluntarily on all 'days off' for 12 hours or more, non-stop - and aside of that ONLY tends to basic bodily needs & on other days goes to work after some hours doing this to start the day - but is often late for work too due to 'being busy' with this other non-activity.
My 'sort of' in this comes from several angles which seem to differ from person to person, such as:
1 - The extreme desire for convenience;
2 - Communicating via internet proxies being misconceived as actual connections with other folks;
3 - Desiring to make things happen with the least amounts of effort - example: doing marketing vs. ordering from Amazon.
4 - Other electronic/gadgety/proxified substitutes for actual, in person experiences.
None of this type of addiction is new - nor does it stand alone.
In previous times there were a great many TV addicts - and even folks who were powerfully addicted to the earliest video games to the exclusion of all else (Atari 2600, anyone ??).
These new forms of it just make it more obvious as it is easy to see in anyone who sits alone in a darkened room with just a glowing screen to keep them company, endlessly.
Also - terming something 'internet addiction ' seems inaccurate as these activities are present in so many different methods of access now due to convergence;
Phones, tablets, TVs, cars, refrigerators - even the pumps at fuel stations are festooned with the stuff now.
To me it seems more accurate to consider that it may actually be 'media addiction' in its many, varied forms.
Just a few of the results from being overtaken by this 'media addiction' may be:
- The need for social contact being superficially satisfied by any sort of contact with (usually forever unmet...) 'online friends';
- The delusion of 'learning stuff' whilst one sits in a chair without EVER making use of the info one sees online;
- Emailing, IMing/SMSing/chatting, messaging via (anti-)social platforms;
- 'Attending meetings' via internet proxy whilst sitting in one's chair at home;
- 'Playing games' alone, yet being convinced that one is playing with others who are never even there with them;
- Attending any sort of gathering - even family meals, for example - and using one's phone, etc. for any of the above rather than being present and truly socializing with one's own family;
- Bowling anyone ??
Sure, just open your bowling game and do it ALONE without needing to pay any bowling alley...pool too, if one wishes it - or any of thousands of other entertainments we used to do together with other folks present for shared experiences.
- An almost unlimited number of other former activities which are now commonly pursued in solitary with imaginary 'friends' whom folks pretend are present - but they really are not.
All the above has been very obviously leading to diminished social skills by way of voluntary isolation - and for at least an entire generation (or more ??) already.
The truly precious connections that my generation made in our youth which helped us in finding & following our own paths in this life have simply not happened for the folks I am trying to describe here - leaving so very many just lost as to what opportunities they've never even seen or even known to exist for them.
I speak to this subject as an older career tech consultant who has been in the IT world since the initial joining of computers to CRTs which took over from the teletypes with card readers.
I have watched in amazement as the deliberate convergence of technologies has blurred the lines between real living and simulated living all this time since then - only getting stronger & more pervasive as time has passed.
My observations of these phenomena came up in conversations with clients over 20 years ago.
This was when folks started emailing friends rather than going visiting to each other's homes - but after too many folks looked at me as if I had 5 heads sitting on my shoulders (all with green & purple hair & crossed eyes), I chose to abandon speaking of the subject entirely...while remaining on watch for it all this time.
And here we are.
The tendencies to be drawn into addictions and obsessions are quite common & rather natural to our species - along with the resistances to breaking free of such 'normal' aspects of this life, so just adding new varieties of such things to the already rather lengthy list of available options cannot be too surprising.
The big question here as I see it:
What further results of all this stuff may we see and in which directions will this expand ??