A first of its kind in the US, a new residential treatment center for internet/gaming addicts has opened in Washington. What may be significant here is that the psychotherapists and the neurologists area arriving at some of the same conclusions… continuous engagement with information technology fundamentally alters the brain. Linda Stone (1998) coined the phrase “continuous partial attention” to describe the behavior of continually keeping tabs on everything, but never deeply focusing on anything. Gary Small (2008) notes that when “paying continuous partial attention, people place their brain in a heightened state of stress. They no longer have time to reflect, contemplate or make thoughtful decisions” leading to mistakes, feelings of irritability, and distractedness.
Other research has recently begun to suggest that the increased dopamine levels seen in information addicts (sustained continuous partial attention) mimics levels found in other addictions.