NeuroSense Psychology offers a unique program designed to educate about and intervene with internet addictions. This program is spearheaded by Dr. Dustin Weissman, a specialist in Internet Addictions and Problematic Internet Use. Dr. Weissman has a globally received dissertation on online gaming and social factors. He has been featured in numerous podcasts and articles, including a cover story on social media as an internet addiction specialist. He has also given numerous presentations and trainings on internet usage and mental health.
Internet addiction often presents as compulsive behaviors that affect one’s daily functioning. As Dr. Kimberly Young describes it, we and especially the younger generation have less ability or patience to sit comfortably in our idle time but rather seek to constantly fill it. People suffering from internet addiction may not be aware of their addictive behavior. Some symptoms that may be noticed are: decline in quality of friendships, relationships with family and loved ones, and school/job performance; decline in physical health; depression; suicidal ideation; anxiety; feelings of loneliness; intense outbursts such as yelling or violence when a device is taken away; attention deficits such as distractibility; poor hygiene and diet; fear of missing out (FOMO), “Vamping” and sleep deprivation; and intrusive or obsessive thoughts.
Screens are not new, but rather have just been dramatically improved. Dr. Weissman perceives the cultural allowance as normal, for the last few generations, to sit in front of the TV. The main difference is when you leave the home you would also leave your TV behind. Now that people can take their screens with them it has become a much bigger issue.
Middle School, High School, Young Adult (18-29), Adult/Parents
Focused on problematic use.
Internet addiction is defined as any online-related, compulsive behavior which causes marked impairment in one’s daily functioning. One may see a disruption in their school/work performance, social connections, familial relationships, and physical health. A milder form may be identified as Problematic Internet Use. Internet addiction may present itself in a variety of forms. Dr. Dustin Weissman has identified 6 main categories:
1) Online Gaming
2) Social Media / Smartphone
3) Online Gambling
4) Online Pornography
5) Video Streaming
6) Virtual and/or Augmented Reality
This answer is a bit more challenging because each person will have their own means of overuse. It is not simply a matter of exceeding a certain amount of hours. It is when the internet use begins to take control of addicts’ lives and become unmanageable. This can present itself as compulsive use of the Internet, a preoccupation with being online, lying or hiding the extent or nature of online behavior, and an inability to control or curb online behavior. If internet use pattern interferes with or disrupts one’s life in any way shape or form, (e.g. work, family life, relationships, school, etc.) there may be a problem. In addition, if the internet is being used to regularly alter one’s mood, there may be problem developing. So, it is not the amount of time spent online, but rather the quality, goal, and purposefulness of that time as well as the ability to regulate and control one’s use.
At NeuroSense Psychology, we offer numerous programs to help with the variety of internet addictions. The interventions listed above highlight the ways we can help you, including individual therapy, group therapy, brief psychoeducation and treatment programs, and multifamily approaches. This is a global addiction that has been normalized, making it much more difficult to identify when additional help is needed. If you have read this far, chances are high that you or someone you know struggles with problematic internet use. Please feel free to give us a call or send us a message so we can discuss the best path forward.