Teenagers & Internet Addiction
When we think of addiction, we usually associate it with substances such as alcohol and illicit drugs. However, addiction is more intertwined in our everyday lives than we may think. For example, a majority of the world’s population is addicted to caffeine. Even though caffeine is known to be addictive, many people throughout the world do not start their day without a cup of coffee.
We are so consumed in our daily lives that we may even start to become addicted to everyday activities, like surfing the internet. For the younger generation especially, being online takes up a large portion of our days – between scrolling on social media, watching videos, and reading articles. With the internet continually becoming more advanced, there has been an increase in internet addiction over the past several years.
Can You Be Addicted to the Internet?
Yes, you can be addicted to the internet. Internet addiction is a type of behavioral addiction that occurs when a person becomes dependent on using online devices. This kind of addiction is becoming more common throughout the world as technology advances in continents like Asia and North America. There are three major subtypes of internet addiction: video game addiction, online gambling addiction, and cybersex/online sex addiction.
Even though internet addiction is so widespread, it is not yet recognized as an official mental disorder. But since more people are using the internet uncontrollably every day, more research is continually being done to understand this unique disease.
Internet addiction is most common among young individuals, especially teenagers with immediate access to the internet. It may be triggered by stress, mental disorders like anxiety, and more.
Internet Addiction in Teens
Many teenagers use the internet as a type of coping mechanism, which makes them the most vulnerable group for internet addiction. Also, social media and online gaming are an increasingly large part of teenage culture throughout the United States and more highly developed countries.
It is important to note that there is a big difference between typical teenage behavior and actual internet addiction. If someone is truly addicted to the internet, they will display certain behaviors.
Is Your Teenager Addicted to the Internet?
Internet addiction may be difficult to diagnose since so many young individuals use the internet every day. Also, the internet is beginning to become a core part of elementary and high school education. However, there are some general signs of internet addiction in young people.
If your teenager is showing any of the signs or behaviors below, they may have an addiction to the internet:
- Hiding how long they have been online
- Putting the internet before other hobbies
- Neglecting time with friends and social activities
- Ignoring personal hygiene and daily routines
- Displaying joylessness or irritability without the internet
- Staying online longer than they intend to
- Continuously needing more time on the computer
Although the internet may not be the most concerning addiction your teen can have, there are some monumental risks to having an internet addiction.
Risks of Internet Addiction
If a teenager develops an addiction to the internet, they may be risking several mental and physical issues. Firstly, excessive use of the internet can lead to risky behaviors such as sending illicit photos, having online affairs, or cyberbullying. Someone who is addicted to the internet may also be risking:
- Loss of personal relationships outside of the computer
- Lower grades or performance at school/work
- Lack of social skills in person
- Withdrawal without use (anger, tension, depression)
- Declining health due to lack of physical activity
If your teenager has an internet addiction, it’s important to catch it before the above risks occur.
How to Treat An Addiction to the Internet
The first step to treating a teenager’s addiction to the internet is admitting that a problem exists. Then, it’s important to talk to them about the issue. Make sure they know that you aren’t attacking them, but that you are concerned for their health. Agree on an action plan with your child and begin to create boundaries without cutting out the internet from their lives completely.
After talking, it’s time to take action. Talk to your child’s doctor about the next best steps for your teenager. They may end up finding underlying mental health concerns that require medication. Therapy can also be a beneficial form of treatment to help teenagers understand their internet addiction.
To learn more about internet addiction in teenagers, contact our team of addiction specialists by calling us here 267.719.8528.