Christopher did not want to meet with a therapist, but he did not have a choice. His wife made the appointment and insisted. Last week, their daughter made a comment that made them both think twice. After her volleyball game, Christopher’s daughter was angry. Every time she looked at her dad, she said he was on his phone. His daughter said he is always on his phone. When Christopher asked his wife to defend him, she said that their daughter had a point—Christopher spends most of his evenings on his laptop or with his smartphone in his hand. Christopher was upset, so his wife suggested he talk about it with a professional. At the appointment, Christopher explained that his Internet use is not a big deal, and that he is here so that his wife and daughter would be satisfied. To help him gain perspective, the therapist gave Christopher and asked him to write down when he was online, either on his laptop or phone, during his evenings and days off this week. At his next appointment, Christopher felt differently. He was beginning to see what his wife and daughter were saying. His therapist explained that he is not the only one. Many people are struggling to regulate how much they use the Internet and what they do online. Many people are struggling with an Internet addiction.
“Tech isn’t morally good or bad until it’s wielded by the corporations that fashion it for mass consumption. Apps and platforms can be designed to promote rich social connections; or, like cigarettes, they can be designed to addict. Today, unfortunately, many tech developments do promote addiction.”
― Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
The therapists at Thriveworks Virginia Beach are working with more and more clients who need help with their Internet use. They may be spending too much time online or they may be taking too many risks online. In either case, help is available. Internet addiction has effective treatments.
Internet Addiction: Diagnostics
High-speed Wifi is long been available in coffee shops and restaurants, but now, people can log in on airplanes and in their cars. Unlimited data plans mean that people are glued to their phones even more. For some, unplugging is not a challenge at all. They can sit down at a meal with friends and not reach for their phone. Others, however, have difficulty with their Internet use. Much in the same way that gambling or shopping can become addictive and compulsive, so can Internet use.
Even before high-speed Internet, mental health professionals were concerned about how people were using the Internet. In 1995, when people were still using dial-up, Dr. Ivan Goldberg suggested that the behavior he was observing was indicative of an addiction. By 1998, another mental health professional, Dr. Kimberly Young developed diagnostics for recognizing compulsive Internet use:
- Using the Internet for increasingly longer amounts of time or taking more and more risks online in order to feel content with one’s use
- Managing one’s mood—particularly difficult emotions—with the Internet.
- Deceiving others about being online—how much, when, where, and what one does online, et cetera.
- Losing track of time while online and staying there longer than intended.
- Failed attempts to limit or quit using the Internet—often there is a desire to curb use but the inability to do so.
- Experiencing obsessive thoughts about the Internet.
- Being irritable, depressed, or moody when unable to go online.
- Taking risks in order to be online or do certain things online—jeopardizing one’s finances, relationships, job, and more.
Compulsive Internet Use: Symptoms and Signs
When people have difficulty regulating what they do online, they often experience side-effects in real life. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Internet addiction is important because early intervention often helps people heal and recover from Internet addiction. When people see the red flags of addiction and take action immediately, they may have an advantage in recovery.
Emotional signs that an Individual is struggling with Internet addiction may include…
- Losing a sense of time
- Inability to keep to a schedule
- Feelings of elation when using the Internet
- Mood swings
- Feelings of guilt
- Avoidance of work
Physical signs that an Individual is struggling with Internet addiction may include…
- Neck pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Weight loss or gain
- Poor nutrition (forgetting to eat or eating excessively)
- Dry eyes and other vision problems
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., not bathing, changing clothes, brushing teeth, and more)
Scheduling a Session at Thriveworks Virginia Beach for Internet Addiction
Compulsive Internet use can look like a professional who never puts their phone down. It can look like a teen (or anyone for that matter) who incessantly scrolls through social media. It can be out-of-control pornography use or over-involvement in online relationships. If the Internet feels like it is controlling you, it may be time to reach out for help, and help is available. When you reach out to Thriveworks Virginia Beach, know that you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. We accept many different insurance plans, and we also offer weekend and evening appointments. When you call, one of our scheduling specialists will answer and help you find an appointment. Let’s get started. Call today.