In a world where everyone is connected to the internet but seems more disconnected than ever, it’s hard to find someone that isn’t glued to their phone, including teenagers or even children. Traditional views of addiction may assume substance use, but behavioural addictions are real and can have detrimental effects on our lives.
However, because these addictions are more common and intertwined with our daily lives reliance on them tends to be overlooked, where there could be a deeper problem forming. If you believe your teen is developing an internet addiction, it’s important to know what to look out for and where to draw the line between regular use and addiction – especially as attitudes change and we shift to a more digital world.
Is Internet Addiction Real?
Internet addiction is unfortunately very real and is more common now than ever. In the age of technology, there’s an entirely digital world at our fingertips, and our mobile phones grant us instant access, 24 hours a day. This constant access to the internet can ingrain a habit of constantly being on our phones, and instil dependency, eventually leading to addiction.
Internet addiction is a behavioural addiction that is characterised by excessive use of the internet, often through a mobile phone, but also through computers or tablets. Internet addiction has also become almost synonymous with social media addiction, but at what point does a bad habit of scrolling through Instagram become officially classified as an addiction?
Signs of Internet Addiction: What to Look Out For?
With the internet being such a huge part of our daily lives, so many of us use it every day. For this reason, it can be difficult to note when exactly it becomes a problem – there’s a big difference between standard teenager tendencies and actual addiction. But the following behaviours may be a sign that your teen may have an internet addiction:
- Feeling unable to maintain daily schedules or routines.
- Losing track of time and spending much longer online than intended.
- Always needing more time online.
- Neglecting life outside of the internet, like hobbies or friends.
- Hiding or being dishonest about how long they’re spending online.
- Feeling irritated, frustrated, or unhappy when not on the internet.
- Feelings of guilt or getting defensive around their internet usage.
- Developing physical symptoms like backaches, headaches, strained vision, or repetitive strain injuries.
If you think your teen may have an internet addiction, it’s important to catch it before they begin to be affected by associated risks or consequences.
When to Get Help: Internet Addiction Treatment
If you recognise any of the signs of internet addiction in your teen and are concerned about their health, the first step to treating their addiction is admitting that the problem exists and that they need internet addiction help.
It’s important to talk with your teen about the problem and offer support rather than framing the conversation as an attack or criticism. Let your child or teen take an active role in developing their action plan and setting boundaries around their internet usage.
If it’s possible that the internet addiction may have stemmed from a deeper issue and your child needs mental health support, then please contact a medical professional. Therapy and other forms of internet addiction treatment may also be beneficial for your teen.
If you need further advice on how to support your teen through overcoming their internet addiction or want to learn more about internet addiction, please contact the team at New Leaf Recovery today and help your teen get started on the road to recovery.