Taniya Thomas, Psychologist, ASCENT
Internet has turned into an epidemic all over the world. Technology is pruning the skills of people irrespective of gender and age. This year WHO has chosen to raise awareness among public through the mental health day about this rising problem, as young people are more technology depended and are being made the victims & culprit of cyber-crimes cyber bullying and other internet addictive behaviors. The highest populated country in this world is behind India in contributing active internet users. This is undoubtedly facilitated by the almost “free” internet and mobile phone packages offered by reliance Jio, for which there are over 215 million users within 2 years of launch. As per the details shared by Mr. Mukesh Ambani, on an average, Jio customers uses internet more than 290 minutes a day, that means more than 20% of a day. On the one side, it has helped the education and research sector a lot,but on the other side, it turned into a catastrophe by devastating the mental health of youth as well Pas children. In this tech-revolution era, it is high time to consider this issue which is burning the “brain” of the young people.
WHAT IS INTERNET ADDICTION?
Internet addiction is a condition characterized by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges or behaviours regarding computer use and internet access that lead to impairment or distress(Shaw &Black,2008). It was in 1995,Dr Ivan Goldberg used the term “internet addiction” to refer pathological and compulsive use of internet. Later on, new terminologies were coined based on the empirical evidences, like “pathological internet use (PIU)” by Davis, “problematic internet use” by Caplan. In general, Internet addiction can be classified in to 5 types as Young et.al suggest.
Cyber sexual addiction – excessive dependency on online pornography
Cyber relational addiction- forming more online friends and other relations, may not be sexual, but have serious complications in the life.
Net compulsions- compulsive online strolling (trading stock, auction sites, online purchase)
Information overload- compulsive database searches
Computer addiction- using computer excessively for offline activities
The peculiar feature of internet addiction disorder is the need of constant update, as new technology makes new addictions, like social media addictions, which is recently added to the list.
Apart from comorbid* depression, anxiety and substance use, internet addiction has added new forms of psychological disorders. A few are:
FOMO (fear of missing out) - feeling of anxiety that something exciting is happening elsewhere. This is perpetuated when one sees the posts and pictures posted by his/her online friends and the feeling can be all consuming.
NOMOPHOBIA (NO Mobile PHOBIA) - fear of being away from mobile phone contact.
PHANTOM VIBRATION SYNDROME – the perception that one’s mobile is vibrating or ringing, when it is not.
POPCORN BRAIN - a condition in which brain is accustomed to the constant stimulation of electronic multitasking that we are unfit for life offline, where things pop at a much slower pace.
The diagnosis of internet addiction is highly debated. A widely accepted criteria was proposed by Beard (2005) to Identify and diagnose internet addiction disorders in general population:
Preoccupied with the internet
Need to use internet more to have satisfaction.
Has made unsuccessful attempts to control, cut or stop the use.
Become restless, moody, depressed or irritable if tried to control the use.
Has stayed online longer than originally intended.
Has lied to family members or other significant relatives to conceal their internet use.
Uses internet as a way for escaping from problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood.
Has jeopardized or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of internet
It has empirically proved it’s effectiveness in treating Internet addiction disorders. A few strategies proposed by Young (1999) to overcome internet addiction are:
Identify patient’s patterns of Internet use and disrupt these patterns by suggesting new schedules.
Use external stoppers (real events or activities prompting the patient to log off).
Set goals (with regard to the amount of time).
Abstain from a particular application (that the client is unable to control).
Use reminder cards (cues that remind the patient of the costs of IAD and benefits of breaking it).
Develop a personal inventory (shows all the activities that the patient used to engage in or can’t find the time due to IAD).
Enter a support group (compensates for a lack of social support).
Engage in family therapy (addresses relational problems in the family).
It is a client-centered method for enhancing intrinsic motivation to change by exploring and resolving client ambivalence
Reality therapy (RT)
A therapeutic form which help client to understand that addiction is a choice and this problematic behavior can be controlled by alternative activities. Thus it focus on making a commitment to change their unhealthy behavior.
reSTART(Internet Addiction Recovery Program)
The reSTART program is a collaborative therapeutic approach which involves varied form of therapies over a period of time (no technology for 45 to 90 days), to facilitate technology detoxification.
Over the time frame, internet , that we were attracted and affectionate has turned into a serious threat that imbalance the well-being and mental health resulting in serious mental illness. How fast fondness caused madness!!!!!!
*comorbid- debates are ongoing whether other psychiatric disorders appear as a result of internet addiction or internet addiction is followed after psychiatric problems.