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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 588-590

Micro- and macro-level economic implications of digital addictions: A case study

1 School of Social Work, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, India
2 School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, India
3 Department of Psychosocial Support in Disaster Management, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Submission15-Oct-2022
Date of Acceptance23-Nov-2022
Date of Web Publication29-Dec-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Kannappa V Shetty
School of Social Work, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi 110068, Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mgmj.mgmj_199_22

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Introduction: Technology has significantly transformed how we live our lives. The Internet has made life easier by making knowledge more accessible to all and connecting individuals all over the world. However, it has also caused many people to spend far too much time in front of the computer, to the point that it has become the center of their existence. Materials and Methods: A case of a 20-year-old male student of Bachelor of Engineering, who belongs to the middle socio-economic status of a rural area, is digitally addicted, and getting treated in a tertiary hospital in Karnataka, India. Discussion and conclusion: Digital addiction can cause various psychological issues, particularly anxiety, depression, insomnia, and behavioral issues. It further creates an economic crisis in the family of a digital addict as well as for the nation. Therefore, to address the implications of digital addiction, the country must devote resources towards awareness, prevention, and intervention in the area of digital addiction.

Keywords: Digital addiction, economic implications, internet addiction, mental health, single case study

How to cite this article:
Shetty KV, Tewathia N, Bamney U, Rawat VS. Micro- and macro-level economic implications of digital addictions: A case study. MGM J Med Sci 2022;9:588-90

How to cite this URL:
Shetty KV, Tewathia N, Bamney U, Rawat VS. Micro- and macro-level economic implications of digital addictions: A case study. MGM J Med Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 7];9:588-90. Available from: http://www.mgmjms.com/text.asp?2022/9/4/588/365990

  Introduction Top

We carry a tool with us daily that provides limitless social, artistic, and entertaining opportunities.[1] Digital addiction is increasing rapidly worldwide and is affecting the daily life of many individuals.[2] Internet users have surged by 1000% in the past 15 years. Digital addiction has emerged as a new mental health issue.[3] The term addiction is challenging to define, and its use has been deemed contentious; yet, the dependency on a drug or activity is essential to its definition.[4] Digital addiction can be defined as excessive or poorly managed preoccupations or behaviors related to computer use and internet access, which cause impairment.[5]

Almost 28% of the Indian population regularly uses the internet, with a 9% increase in urban users and a 26% increase in rural users, yearly.[6] Internet connectivity allows us to access the following activities: play (e.g., online video games, gambling), work (accessing online resources, downloading apps, emailing, website hosting), socializing (social media websites, group conversations, internet dating), entertainment (film databases, porn, music), consumables (groceries, clothes), and many other activities and services.[7] Internet addiction appears to have multiple risk variables, including younger age at first internet usage, male gender, daily time interval, internet use objective, and poor socioeconomic condition.[8]

Using the internet excessively has been related to various psychological problems, like anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness.[9] Youngsters appear to be particularly affected, with case studies exposing students whose educational performance deteriorates as they spend more and more time online.[10] Regardless of socioeconomic status, adolescents nowadays have high exposure to technological devices like smartphones at a relatively young age, making them more prone to social media abuse or addiction.[11] According to studies, internet addiction is associated with significant difficulties such as educational drop, reduced curriculum study, anxiety, poor interpersonal interactions, decreased physical activities, irregularity, and nutrient deficiencies.[11],[12]

  Brief clinical history of a case Top

A 20-year-old male, belongs to middle socio-economic status, from a rural area of Karnataka, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E). Assessment reveals that the patient was normal till his 12th grade. After he joined 1st-semester B.E., he insisted his parents buy him a laptop for his studies. He also made new friends in college. Gradually, they started playing online games together. Initially, they began with more basic games but soon shifted to major intensive games. After his 3rd semester, the patient stopped attending college and told his parents that he had additional assignments to do. The parents did not understand the patient’s intention behind not attending his classes. Based on the patient’s demand, his parents were forced to get a Wi-Fi connection at home. He constantly lied to his parents about his assignments and engaged in online games. He later started showing irritability, anger outburst, restlessness, poor appetite and decreased sleep. Further, he demanded a new laptop with high internet speed. He also convinced his parents that a high-speed internet connection was necessary for his assignment and attendance. Due to this behavior of the patient, the family had to incur a lot of expenditure. Gradually, his father had to sell a small property to pay for the patient’s demands.

Further, the patient started demanding more money from his parents, stating that he had to pay for tuition. However, he was using the money for subscribing to porn sites, games, and gambling. The patient lied to his parents about his need for money to spend on educational requirements. This pattern of lying continued for six months, and his parents had to spend around 10 lakhs on such expenses. However, his parents had no clue about his spending, as he said it was needed for his academic course. One day, his parents received notice from the college stating that he did not attend college for around six months. The parents understood that something was wrong and decided to assess the situation. Parents entered the patient’s room to find out why he was absent from college. They found out that he was playing online games and realized that he was addicted to the internet and had spent all his money on this addiction. Later with the help of neighbors, the patient was taken to the hospital for treatment. In the hospital, he was diagnosed as having digital technology addiction with behavioral issues. Further, he was treated with medical and psychological interventions.

  Discussion Top

The present pool of literature provides exhaustive information about the concept of digital addiction, the factors responsible for such addiction, and the consequences of digital addiction. However, we could not find the literature discussing digital addiction’s economic consequences or implications. A digital addict inflicts economic consequences upon himself by spending excessive time digitally instead of acquiring skills that will enable him to be economically self-reliant. He is not able to achieve his potential productivity levels. Being an addict, he compromises his future quality of life as well. In addition, the family as a whole also faces financial implications. If the digital addict is in his academic years, apart from the academic fee, the family has to bear the cost of digital equipment demanded by the addict, the cost of maintenance of the device(s), and the cost of Wi-Fi for the device(s). The family also has to provide for the cost of the digital rehabilitation process of the addict. The rehabilitation process is mentally exhausting and a drain on the family’s resources.

Instead of adding to the family income by becoming a self-dependent earning member, the digital addict becomes a financial liability to the family. All these are micro-level economic implications. The economic consequences of digital addiction are not confined to only the micro level, the implications are far-reaching. The conceptual framework [Figure 1] we propose, extends to the macro level, that is, it involves a cost to the nation.
Figure 1: Conceptual framework

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A nations gross domestic product (GDP) is the market value of a nation’s total production of goods and services in a given year.[13],[14] The unemployment rate affects the GDP inversely.[15] In a manner, digital addicts are or will be unemployed if they fail to acquire the education and skills required to be employed. Loss of productivity is a high cost to any nation. Such loss can be easily measured by the work that would have been expected to be done if not spent online. There is a loss of potential income and output, that is, GDP. Hence a nation’s GDP will be adversely affected if we do not tackle the issue of digital addiction.

While GDP indicates economic growth, the Human Development Index (HDI) captures the overall development of a nation. This index measures the development of a nation in terms of education, per capita income, and life expectancy.[16] Ample research is available that establishes the adverse effect of digital addiction on the education level as well as on the life expectancy of an individual.[9],[11] This means that a nation’s HDI rank will also be affected. Like substance abuse, digital addiction will hinder a nation’s peaceful development and smooth functioning.[17],[18]


The authors could not assess the personality disorder of the patient. The discussion and conclusion cannot be generalized as the study is based on a single case. However, the study paves the way for further research in this direction, based on a larger sample size as well as across different regions of the country.

  Conclusion Top

To tackle this addiction, the nation is required to dedicate resources for awareness, prevention, and intervention. The study indicates a crucial policy recommendation by highlighting the economic implications of digital addiction. Treatment and rehabilitation costs are also to be included while formulating the digital addiction policy framework.

Ethical consideration/declaration of patient consent

Ethical clearance was not necessary for a single case. However, we have taken informed consent from the patient and caregiver for the same. All the personal data was kept confidential. Moreover, this paper is mainly written on the existing literature with minimal case details.

Financial support and sponsorship

Not applicable.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Bickham DS Current research and viewpoints on internet addiction in adolescents. Curr Pediatr Rep 2021;9:1-10.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kumar M, Mondal A A study on internet addiction and its relation to psychopathology and self-esteem among college students. Ind Psychiatry J 2018;27:61-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kuss DJ, Lopez-Fernandez O Internet addiction and problematic internet use: A systematic review of clinical research. World J Psychiatry 2016;6:143-76.  Back to cited text no. 3
Alavi SS, Ferdosi M, Jannatifard F, Eslami M, Alaghemandan H, Setare M Behavioral addiction versus substance addiction: Correspondence of psychiatric and psychological views. Int J Prev Med 2012;3:290-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
Shaw M, Black DW Internet addiction: Definition, assessment, epidemiology and clinical management. CNS Drugs 2008;22:353-65.  Back to cited text no. 5
Bandawar M, Narasimha VL, Chand P Use of digital technology in addiction disorders. Indian J Psychiatry 2018;60:534-40.  Back to cited text no. 6
Pan YC, Chiu YC, Lin YH Systematic review and meta-analysis of the epidemiology of internet addiction. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2020;118:612-22.  Back to cited text no. 7
Tóth G, Kapus K, Hesszenberger D, Pohl M, Kósa G, Kiss J, et al. Prevalence and risk factors of internet addiction among Hungarian high school teachers. Life 2021;11:194.  Back to cited text no. 8
Jain A, Sharma R, Gaur KL, Yadav N, Sharma P, Sharma N, et al. Study of internet addiction and its association with depression and insomnia in university students. J Family Med Prim Care 2020;9:1700-6.  Back to cited text no. 9
  [Full text]  
Wallace P Internet addiction disorder and youth: There are growing concerns about compulsive online activity and that this could impede students’ performance and social lives. EMBO Rep 2014;15:12-6.  Back to cited text no. 10
Ramesh Masthi NR, Pruthvi S, Phaneendra MS A comparative study on social media usage and health status among students studying in pre-university colleges of urban Bengaluru. Indian J Community Med 2018;43:180-4.  Back to cited text no. 11
Soleymani MR, Garivani A, Zare-Farashbandi F The effect of the internet addiction on the information-seeking behavior of the postgraduate students. Mater Sociomed 2016;28:191-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
Fan VY, Bloom DE, Ogbuoji O, Prettner K, Yamey G Valuing health as development: Going beyond gross domestic product. BMJ 2018;363:k4371.  Back to cited text no. 13
Dynan K, Sheiner L "GDP as a Measure of Economic Well-Being." Hutchins Center Working paper no. 43. Washington, DC: Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings; August 2018. Available from: https://www.brookings.edu/research/gdp-as-ameasure-of-economic-well-being. [Last accessed on Oct 15, 2022].  Back to cited text no. 14
Hjazeen H, Seraj M, Ozdeser H The nexus between economic growth and unemployment in Jordan. Future Business J 2021;7:1-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
Sajith G, Malathi K Applicability of human development index for measuring economic well-being: A study on GDP and HDI indicators from the Indian context. Indian Econ J 2020;68:554-71.  Back to cited text no. 16
Manthey J, Hassan SA, Carr S, Kilian C, Kuitunen-Paul S, Rehm J Estimating the economic consequences of substance use and substance use disorders. Expert Rev Pharmacoecon Outcomes Res 2021;21:869-76.  Back to cited text no. 17
Prasad R Alcohol use on the rise in India. Lancet 2009;373:17-8.  Back to cited text no. 18


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