What is Teen Internet Addiction?


Teen Internet Addiction is often referred to as a Behavioral Disorder, characterized by poorly controlled obsession with, or behaviors concerning, internet use.  These thoughts and actions are so severe that they cause harm and stress in other areas of life and disrupt proper functioning.


Internet Addiction is very often related to conditions of anxiety or depression, as well as social isolation.


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What Teen Internet Addiction Looks Like


In today’s society, when computers and the internet are such an integral part of life, it may seem ridiculous to assert that some people have Internet Addiction.  However, it’s important to recognize that this addiction isn’t simply a matter of using the internet to function, or spending an average amount of time on computers.  Instead, teen internet addiction sufferers compulsively use the internet, to such a degree that it overtakes and supersedes other responsibilities they have, including giving time and attention to school work, responsibilities at home, and even relationships.  Specific instances of Internet Addiction may include chatting online, playing online video games, or visiting sexually illicit or pornographic sites.


Because it’s extremely common for people with Internet Addiction to suffer from Anxiety or Depression, they often retreat into the internet in an effort to hide from their own feelings or experiences, and/or “numb” themselves.


Teen Internet Addiction is also a common escape route for people with an aversion to social situations or with some sort of social anxiety.  For instance, if teens are struggling to make friends or feel a sense of belonging at school, they may retreat to the safe, non-judgmental world of the internet in order to feel un-threatened.  People who have Internet Disorders often retreat to this other world so entirely that they miss out on proper human development, time with peers, sound sleep, and adequate exercise.


Teen Internet Addiction Treatment


Teen internet addiction treatment involves techniques and approaches used in any sort of Addictive therapy, in general.


First, therapists will help people gain a sense of clarity about the situation, so that they can understand and admit that there’s a problem.  They’ll also help people recognize what sort of negative effects the addiction may have already had, such as disrupting school work and/or relationships.


Therapists also help people to recognize what sort of needs or triggers lead to their internet use and try to begin to “reroute” these impulsive behaviors, so that the people can learn to control their urges.


Therapists also help teens during teen internet addiction treatment to identify what sorts of feelings or experiences they might have that are leading to their addiction, such as stress or conflicts at school, or at home.  This process can help people gain relief from their compulsion, as well as identify much more successful ways to gain relief from their feelings of anxiety or depression, by helping them establish new ways to address those issues.


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At what point is it a serious addiction?


A lot of times, people tend to feel like they need to see things get really bad before they can admit there’s a problem that requires help.  Although we understand that the line between using and becoming addicted to the internet can be fuzzy, it basically comes down to whether the use is so extreme that it’s causing harm in other areas of life.  If it is, is it necessarily addiction?  Maybe not.  But is it worth addressing?  We think so.  By and large, people don’t get treatment and then regret it, saying that it wasn’t as bad as they thought.  Instead, it’s much more common that when people finally get treatment, and finally feel relief, they wonder why they waited so long.

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