Teen Internet Addiction Disorder

The last two decades have seen the rise of internet technology. Teenagers especially are raised with the internet as their number one source for almost everything. Studies have found that 92% of American teenagers use the internet, while 24% of them constantly remain online. Their days and nights are unimaginable without the internet. The internet has become a severe addiction for many of them and they experience the same symptoms as with other substance addictions.

For the first time in 2003, this disorder was named ‘Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)’. It was primarily defined for the compulsive internet users who become addicted and can’t live a moment without it. Experts define an internet addict as one who remains online for more than six hours per day. The diagnosis of this disorder is usually confirmed via observable patterns of behavior, family discussions, and ruling out of other addiction/mental health disorders.

Symptoms of Teen Internet Addiction Disorder

Today’s teenagers are born into a period where cell phones are the center of everyday life. Since they significantly witness the usage of cell phones around them, they tend to imitate this behavior and do not believe that there is another way of operating. In addition, as a result of peer pressure, teenagers remain attached to their cell phones to feel part of their peer groups and to keep abreast of what is going on in their social settings. Also, when a teen is not able to handle adverse situations or to fight boredom, he/ she may resort to the cell phone to avoid real life challenges.

Cell phone addiction is categorized under impulse-control addiction along with the teen internet addiction. Its effect is focused on the brain, as it reduces emotions, decontrols impulses, and affects decision-making capabilities and simple reasoning powers.

Cell phone addiction can also induce other substance and alcohol abuse habits. Teenagers with cell phone addiction often have poor nutritional habits and exercise routines, affecting their overall health. These teenagers become isolated from society as well. Their habitual cell phone usage can also hinder and impair their safety and the safety of others, such as causing motor accidents.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Teen Internet Addiction Disorder

The withdrawal symptoms for teens with internet addiction disorder are similar to those of other substance abuse and addiction disorders. They include – anxiety, mood swings, dysphoria, irritation, and pensive boredom. Certain cases of hallucinations have also been reported.

Teen Internet Addiction Disorder – Causes & Effects

Teen internet addiction disorder is a compulsive addiction that interferes with a teenager’s daily normal life and ultimately isolates them from friends and family. This disorder is often triggered by teenager’s emotional and hormonal turmoil, increasing their internet dependency. This disorder is also known as internet compulsivity in teens. Many teenagers fall prey to this addiction as they struggle to find themselves at home or in school. Often, internet compulsivity is also attributed to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), poor self-image, and low self-esteem.

Common emotional effects and symptoms of this disorder include – anxiety, depression, dishonesty, feeling of guilt, irregular schedules, elated when using the internet, losing track of time, defensive when probed, agitated at the smallest provocations, avoiding chores at home, and isolation from family and friends. Observable physical symptoms of internet addiction include – constant backaches, headaches, unexplained weight gain or loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, numbness in fingers and hands, affected vision such as blurry vision, and sleep disorders.

Treatment of Teen Internet Addiction Disorder

The treatment of internet addiction in teenagers is determined by various factors such as the age and general nature of teen, the intensity of the disorder, the personal struggle experienced when attempting limit internet usage, and the presence of any co-occurring multiple disorders. Specific therapies and therapeutic treatment strategies vary from patient to patient, including modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Some teens respond well to outpatient therapy, while many others with more intense disorders require residential rehabilitation programs.

Treatment at Hillcrest

Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center (Hillcrest) is a licensed, residential mental health facility in the tropical foothills of Agoura Hills, specializing in the treatment of teen internet addiction disorder, and guided by expert mental healthcare professionals and therapists who are committed to the long-lasting and sustained healing of each client, both during and post treatment. At Hillcrest, teen residential treatment is dynamic, multi-layered, varied and eclectic. In addition to individualized therapeutic programs designed specifically to suit each client’s condition and temperament, a range of extracurricular activities and hobbies are also offered to ensure healthy, outdoor and fun outlets for each client depending on their skills and talents.

Hillcrest’s individualized approach allows for personal attention and care of the highest of standards for each client. By recognizing the unique nature and experience of each client, and valuing the distinct abilities and character traits that your loved ones bring to the Hillcrest program, positive healing attributes are maximized and strengthened, allowing each client to flourish while at Hillcrest, and moreover, to learn to nurture those positive characteristics to achieve independence and constructive impactful change upon re-entry and re-integration into the outside world.

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