Noah’s parents made this appointment for him and insisted he go. They were worried about him, but Noah was annoyed. He sat down on the therapist’s sofa and explained. Yes, Noah’s parents saw him online a lot. They said they were concerned about his safety. What was he doing online? Who was he meeting? Yes, Noah had also lost a lot of weight in the past few months. But Noah also explained that his parents did not get it. His therapist asked Noah what they did not understand. Noah had a tough year. He had a really tight-knit group of friends, but then they just started excluding him from things. At school, they ignored him. Right now, the only friends Noah had were online. That is why he is on the Internet so much. Noah’s therapist empathized with Noah—exclusion is a form of bullying that is very painful. Noah’s therapist also asked if Noah knew that people could become addicted to the Internet? In that first session, Noah’s took important steps. Throughout the next few years, Noah and his therapist walked through building healthy coping mechanisms and confronting his Internet addiction.
“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.”
Going online is almost as easy as breathing. Smartphones, high speed Internet, tablets, unlimited data, and laptops mean that parents can catch up on their emails during their kid’s swim meet, people can constantly see how many “likes” they get on social media, and phones are commonly seen around the dinner table. For some people, easy access to the Internet is not a problem—they can unplug without a second thought. For others, easy access to the Internet is a problem—they may have trouble controlling what they do online or how much time they spend there. They may have an Internet addiction.
The therapists at Thriveworks Lynchburg treat Internet addiction. We have seen more and more clients who are struggling with compulsive Internet use, but we have also seen more and more clients learn how to regain control.
Using the Internet Compulsively
Even when the Internet was not so easily accessible, mental health professionals were seeing behavior online that looked addictive. When Dr. Ivan Goldberg first suggested that people could form an addiction-like dependency upon the Internet, his suggestion was seen as a joke. However, within a few short years, others were on-board. Dr. Kimberly S. Young worked out criteria for recognizing someone who has an Internet addiction. When people display in their lives at least five of the following, they may be addicted to being online:
- A dependency or obsession with going online.
- Failed attempts to stop or limit one’s Internet use.
- Being online longer than one planned or desired.
- Taking person or professionals risks while online or in order to be online.
- Managing one’s emotions and mood with one’s Internet use.
- Escalating how much one is online or the risks one is taking online in order to feel fulfilled.
- When unable to go online, feeling depressed, moody, and/or irritable.
- Deceiving others about what one is doing online or how much one is using the Internet.
Mental health professionals also realized that Internet addiction may take a number of different forms. Dr. Kimberly Young also devised subcategories of Internet addiction, such as…
- Cyber-relationship addiction: Having online relationships that are over-involved.
- Cybersex addiction: Going to the Internet for pornography and/or sex in a compulsive way.
- Net compulsions: Compulsively gambling, day-trading, and/or shopping on the Internet.
- Information addiction: Searching databases, social media, and/or websites compulsively.
- Computer addiction: Obsessively playing online video games.
Emotional and Physical Effects of Compulsive Internet Use
Any compulsion can cause significant harm to an individual, and Internet addiction is no different. What happens online has consequences in real life. In particular, people often experience emotional and physical effects.
The emotional side effects of an Internet addiction can include…
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of elation when using the Internet
- Losing a sense of time
- Inability to keep to a schedule
- Avoidance of work
- Mood swings
The physical side effects of an Internet addiction can include…
- Dry eyes and other vision problems
- Poor nutrition (forgetting to eat or eating excessively)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., not bathing)
- Neck pain
- Weight gain or loss
Treatment at Thriveworks Lynchburg: Appointments for Internet Addiction
It is clear from the emotional and physical signs of Internet addiction that it can cause significant harm both to an individual and to their loved ones. If you are experiencing some of those severe effects, know that help is available. Internet addiction has treatments. Thriveworks Lynchburg offers appointments for compulsive Internet use, and we are committed to giving each client the personalized care that they deserve.
When you call our office for an appointment, a scheduling specialist will answer and help you make an appointment. We do not have an automated response or voicemail. We also do not keep a waitlist, but we do offer weekend and evening sessions. Our new client also may have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call. Let’s get to work.