Teen Internet Addiction Disorder
The last two decades have seen the rise of internet technology. Teenagers especially are raised with the internet as their number one source for almost everything. Studies have found that 92% of American teenagers use the internet, while 24% of them constantly remain online. Their days and nights are unimaginable without the internet. The internet has become a severe addiction for many of them and they experience the same symptoms as with other substance addictions.
For the first time in 2003, this disorder was named ‘Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)’. It was primarily defined for the compulsive internet users who become addicted and can’t live a moment without it. Experts define an internet addict as one who remains online for more than six hours per day. The diagnosis of this disorder is usually confirmed via observable patterns of behavior, family discussions, and ruling out of other addiction/mental health disorders.
Symptoms of Teen Internet Addiction Disorder
Teenagers who are addicted to the internet will usually exhibit the following symptoms:
- Constantly checking devices
- Poor school performance
- Inability to spend time without mobile device
- Fatigue due to late nights online
- Puffy and red eyes
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Dishonesty regarding their internet usage and time spent online
- Anxiety when internet connection is unavailable
- Inability to maintain friendships and relationships
- Emotional outbursts and poor social skills / social behavior
Withdrawal Symptoms of Teen Internet Addiction Disorder
The withdrawal symptoms for teens with internet addiction disorder are similar to those of other substance abuse and addiction disorders. They include – anxiety, mood swings, dysphoria, irritation, and pensive boredom. Certain cases of hallucinations have also been reported.
Teen Internet Addiction Disorder – Causes & Effects
Teen internet addiction disorder is a compulsive addiction that interferes with a teenager’s daily normal life and ultimately isolates them from friends and family. This disorder is often triggered by teenager’s emotional and hormonal turmoil, increasing their internet dependency. This disorder is also known as internet compulsivity in teens. Many teenagers fall prey to this addiction as they struggle to find themselves at home or in school. Often, internet compulsivity is also attributed to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), poor self-image, and low self-esteem.
Common emotional effects and symptoms of this disorder include – anxiety, depression, dishonesty, feeling of guilt, irregular schedules, elated when using the internet, losing track of time, defensive when probed, agitated at the smallest provocations, avoiding chores at home, and isolation from family and friends. Observable physical symptoms of internet addiction include – constant backaches, headaches, unexplained weight gain or loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, numbness in fingers and hands, affected vision such as blurry vision, and sleep disorders.
Treatment of Teen Internet Addiction Disorder
The treatment of internet addiction in teenagers is determined by various factors such as the age and general nature of teen, the intensity of the disorder, the personal struggle experienced when attempting limit internet usage, and the presence of any co-occurring multiple disorders. Specific therapies and therapeutic treatment strategies vary from patient to patient, including modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Some teens respond well to outpatient therapy, while many others with more intense disorders require residential rehabilitation programs.
Treatment at Hillcrest
Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center (Hillcrest) is a licensed, residential mental health facility in the tropical foothills of Agoura Hills, specializing in the treatment of teen internet addiction disorder, and guided by expert mental healthcare professionals and therapists who are committed to the long-lasting and sustained healing of each client, both during and post treatment. At Hillcrest, teen residential treatment is dynamic, multi-layered, varied and eclectic. In addition to individualized therapeutic programs designed specifically to suit each client’s condition and temperament, a range of extracurricular activities and hobbies are also offered to ensure healthy, outdoor and fun outlets for each client depending on their skills and talents.
Hillcrest’s individualized approach allows for personal attention and care of the highest of standards for each client. By recognizing the unique nature and experience of each client, and valuing the distinct abilities and character traits that your loved ones bring to the Hillcrest program, positive healing attributes are maximized and strengthened, allowing each client to flourish while at Hillcrest, and moreover, to learn to nurture those positive characteristics to achieve independence and constructive impactful change upon re-entry and re-integration into the outside world.