Hillary was not excited about meeting with her therapist this week. Something her daughter said had really bothered her, and she knew she needed to talk about it. While they were at her softball game, Hillary overheard her daughter tell a friend that her mom never set her phone down. “That is not true,” Hillary told her therapist in her weekly appointment. Her therapist invited her to share her perspective, and Hillary explained that it is important for her to keep up on email. It gives her an advantage at work. Yes, she was checking her email at the softball game, but she was also watching. Hillary explained that she was very good at multi-tasking. Her therapist suggested that she pay a little more attention to how much she was on her phone and online throughout this next week. Hillary could not see what her therapist could. In fact, her therapist was seeing more and more Internet addiction. Just like gambling or shopping can become addictive, so can using the Internet. Also like other addictions, when people use the Internet compulsively, there are treatments for regaining control.
“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.” —Gretchen Rubin
Tablets, data plans, laptops, and smartphones make getting online easier than ever. For some people, easy access is not an issue. They can disconnect from the Internet without a second-thought. For some people, they struggle to unplug. Their Internet use can be compulsive—they may feel anxious when they are offline or lose track of how much they are on the Internet. Their Internet use may also be out of control—they may be losing control of what they do online. For many cases of Internet addiction, traditional treatments for addiction are very effective.
Thriveworks Newport News is many clients learn how to regain control of how, when, and where they use the Internet.
When Being Online Is Compulsive
Even during the days of dial-up, mental health professionals were observing people’s behavior online and making comparisons to addiction. It was 1995 when Dr. Ivan Goldberg first suggested that people could be addicted to the Internet. His suggestion was received as a joke; however, by 1998, criteria had been developed for diagnosing Internet addiction by Dr. Kimberly Young. If people are experiencing a minimum of five of the following symptoms, they may have an Internet addiction:
- Regulating one’s mood by going online.
- Escalating the amount of time one spends on the Internet.
- Deceiving others about how much one is using the Internet and/or what one is doing online.
- Difficulty stopping or controlling Internet use—unsuccessful attempts to quit.
- Experiencing an obsession or preoccupation with being online.
- Being online longer than one expected or planned to be there.
- Feeling moody, depressed, or irritable when not on the Internet.
- Risking one’s financial stability, personal relationships, or professional reputation in order to be online.
Effects of Internet Addiction
When people are dependent upon being online, they always experience effects in real life. Often with addiction, the earlier the effects of the addiction are recognized, the earlier people can seek treatment. Finding treatment sooner rather than later often sets people up to heal. The effects of Internet addiction are both physical and emotional.
When someone is struggling with compulsive Internet use, they may feel things like…
- Mood swings
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of elation when using the Internet
- Inability to keep to a schedule
- Avoidance of work
- Losing a sense of time
Physically, when someone is struggling with compulsive Internet use, they may experience things like…
- Weight loss or gain
- Neck pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Poor nutrition (forgetting to eat or eating excessively)
- Dry eyes and other vision problems
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., not changing clothes, brushing teeth, bathing, and more)
Appointments for Internet Addiction at Thriveworks Newport News
There are many manifestations of Internet addiction. Compulsive Internet use can look like someone who cannot separate themselves from their smartphone. It can look like an individual who constantly scrolls through social medial. Compulsive Internet use can also look like someone who maintains most of their relationships online. Everyone is unique and has their individual challenges. That is why the therapists at Thriveworks Newport News give each client the individualized care they need. Treatment for Internet addiction may include medication; some people benefit from support groups; some need a form of therapy; many need a combination of more than one. Our therapists are dedicating to helping their clients find a path to healing.
If you are ready to get started, we are ready to hear from you. When you call our office, a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you make an appointment. New clients frequently have their first appointment the day following their first call. We work with many different insurance companies and accept many insurance plans. We also offer weekend and evening sessions, but we do not put our clients on a waitlist (because we do not have one). Our hope is that our clients receive the mental health care they need when they need it. Let’s work together. Call today.