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The patients' immediate environment influences the majority of psychological behaviors. They often seek refuge in unhealthy activities. It is critical that the intervention used be based on the underlying causes of the behavior. This assures efficiency. This paper is a reflective case study of internet addiction, a psychosocial habit. It goes into the reasons, repercussions, and how to treat the addiction in a professional context.
(Student Name) is a (student's age and gender) self-identified internet junkie. He attends college and works part-time. He is addicted to computer activities, particularly internet gaming. This has largely come at the price of his studies. He had never sought help for his addiction before. His fluctuating grades and lack of interest in offline activities raised enough concern for him to seek help with his internet addiction.
The subject’s internet addiction is most likely to have been as a result of influence from his peers. People within his age bracket tend to publicize most aspects of their lives. Social media tends to make the user seem to have perfect lives; this mostly relates to individuals who frequently post pictures of themselves and their acquaintances and frequently update their statuses. Onlookers are deemed to think that these people have fewer problems than they have. The subject may try to gain popularity by looking up to these socialites. Since socialites spend most of their time posting pictures and videos and reading the comments they get, the subject tries to be as appealing to his audience in order to feel important. When the results are not as expected, the subject tends to be more depressed hence opt for other online services such as internet gaming to feel better. His internet addiction is mostly prevalent when he lacks company; indicating that the subject engages in internet activities to pass time.
The subject has a pressing need to use the internet when he is depressed, stressed and/or lonely. In some cases, his social anxiety triggers his internet addiction. He finds personal interaction with people intimidating hence prefers to form relationships with online characters in games and even meet people in various social media platforms. This enables him to meet new people without facing his fears directly. This way, he can control what others perceive of him through having multiple personalities to please his ‘virtual friends’. In the case of excessive gaming, the subject feels the need to lead all battles as a way to get to spend time with the popular gamers in chat rooms and other virtual platforms; the main issue is social relationships. This enables the subject to have a feeling of belonging unlike in reality. This feeling however, only exists when the subject is on the internet hence the need to spend ridiculous amounts of time online. Excessive internet use is used to provide a fantasy world for addicts (Griffiths & Widyanto, 2006). Addicts are not willing to let go since they are hit by reality; how lonely and depressed they really are.
Internet addiction has cost the subject significant relationships with family and friends. The subject isolates himself from the outside world and interactions with loved ones are limited leaving the latter feeling neglected and replaced by the subject’s social media accounts. Friends and family who disapprove the subject’s multiple personalities to gain fame end up engaging in arguments and fights which weaken their bonds and make them become distant to each other (Kuss, 2016). The subject’s health is also jeopardized; he suffers from back aches, neck cramps and vision problems. He has also lost weight due to poor nutrition; he cannot spare time to fix himself something to eat hence resorts to snacking since he can eat while his eyes are ‘glued’ to the computer screen. Weight loss could also be as a result of poor sleeping habits; the subject fails to get enough rest due to foregoing sleep and when he decides to get some rest, he suffers from insomnia and sleep disturbances. Studies show that internet addiction has a positive correlation with insomnia; light emanating from screens affects circadian rhythms hence insomnia (Kim et al, 2010). The subject fails to attend lessons and may even fail showing up to work. This has led to dropped grades and a poor work history. Internet addicts tend to lose track of time and often procrastinate, this leads to undone/incomplete assignments hence poor performances (Weinstein et al, 2014). They cannot get enough of the game hence fail to realize the fact that they have schoolwork to catch up with or bills to be paid. He is very defensive and easily offended. Internet addicts tend to justify their obsession to reduce remorse (Young, 2009). Addicts are mostly guilty for failing to meet their responsibilities to themselves and others hence they point out the benefits of their addiction or play victim. They may resort to anger and violence if well-wishers try to intervene.
The subject says that internet addiction has expanded his knowledge base and eased communication for him. It has enabled him to familiarize himself with new trends in the country due to its wide coverage. He can keep track on current economic and political issues in various YouTube channels which may prove handy in future interviews and even important discussion forums. Internet facilitates quick retrieval of information concerning all aspects of life. There are different educational websites such as the economists and practical law which enable subscribers to familiarize themselves with important issues in the society. Although the subject benefits from his internet addiction, it is evident that it dose him more harm than good.
There is a significant relationship between depression and internet gaming. Depression triggers internet addiction. Victims tend to seek solace in the online world since they can alter their identities to fit the most ‘acceptable’ one on the internet. They feel less depressed hence spend a lot of time online at the expense of their daily activities. Internet addiction has a negative correlation to social relationships. As much as internet addiction creates relationships with different characters, they cannot be similar to personal relationships; individuals tend to be free with each other when they are distant than when they meet face to face. Internet addiction therefore, does not guarantee smooth communication; it is based on one’s personality and ability to make and keep friends (Young, 2007). There is a significant relationship between internet addiction and health. Internet addicts have a high risk of visual impairments, neck sprains and back complications. This is mostly due to their posture and the considerable amounts of time within which they stay online. Most people lean forward towards the screen while using computers and other forms of technology; this causes the neck to strain hence neck sprains. The eye is not adapted to many hours of screen lighting, internet addicts may complain of dry or teary eyes.
A research done to determine the effectiveness of different treatment mechanisms used “cognitive-behavioral therapy, administering of anti-depressants, group counseling and multi-modal counseling” (Griffiths & Widyanto, 2006). The time taken to administer these various forms of treatment depended on the addicts’ age; most young addicts had less experience. The cognitive-behavioral approach mainly targeted self-acceptance on the addict’s part. This way, the addict could acknowledge the existence of the problem and be willing to adopt various coping mechanisms. These intervention programs sought to tackle internet addiction from its cause.
The intervention adopted seeks to help the subject monitor his surrounding so that he can identify what triggers his addiction and embrace the preventive strategies suggested by his therapist. The subject is expected to resort to more constructive forms of anger management such as doing chores and running errands. The intervention is considered effective if the subject is less irritable; this will be noticed from his frequency in engaging in anger management activities and his response to random questions. The replacement behavior the intervention seeks to establish has the same motivation as the problem; to reduce depression and stress. The subject will avoid passing time on the internet but will do so by performing his duties. The intervention is carried out using a multiple baseline approach whereby the subject is treated alongside other addicts. These addicts do not necessarily have to be equally affected by their obsession. They should however, meet the recruitment criteria; they should all be internet addicts. Treatment is administered at different times to factor out any changes in behavior as a result of other factors other than the intervention. This ensures effectiveness of the intervention adapted. The timeframe is determined by the addict’s intensity of obsession. The more addicted the subject is, the longer the intervention period. This ensures that experimenter bias is avoided (Hawkins et al, 2007). The subjects’ traits are measured before any treatment is administered. Intervention is started as soon as a stable baseline has been recorded, if the timeframe stipulated for each subject is correct, treatment is administered until subjects show significant progress. This progress should be observed in all subjects for the intervention to be effective.
Implementation and Evaluation
Baseline measurement and recording of the participants’ traits commenced on January. Treatment was administered within twelve sessions with a follow-up done six months after treatment. Subjects’ progress was measured three times before treatment was stopped; their mean for different outcomes was indicated on the third, eight and twelve session. Results show that the subjects’ social lives had improved and that they had learned to set their priorities right; see appendix one for more details. One major drawback of this design is that subjects did not respond within the expected time frame causing the treatment to last longer than it was originally planned. This also led to inconsistent results indicating that some subjects were incapable of managing their symptoms even after the twelve sessions of treatment. The improvement is certain during the first and second assessments, inconsistency exists on the third assessments and the six month follow up where some desired outcomes’ mean deteriorated. This suggests that changing the timeframe for all participants could lead to more consistent results. Changing the criteria for recruiting participants could also lead to consistent results; if all participants were equally affected by their addiction, say, they had similar causes and negative consequences of the same; they could have been treated within the same timeframe. The assessment would also involve means of desired outcomes for each subject other than outcomes which only relate to some participants. Take for instance, stable sexual relationships, some participants are not dating hence the mean would not refer to all subjects.
Internet addiction is mostly used to provide comfort for emotionally disturbed addicts. Most addicts use the internet destructively and neglect their other areas of life. Treatment options should be determined by the prevalence of the addiction and its causes. This ensures that the problem is tackled from its root and that addicts acknowledge the existence of the obsession. This enables addicts to discover various aspects of their lives that trigger the obsession and willingly engage in offline activities. The intervention should be evaluated and the data recorded to realize the impact it has on the subjects. Multiple baseline design enables experimenters to test multiple subjects’ traits before, during and after the intervention has been implemented. It enables experimenters to tabulate or represent the data in graphs for them to make comparisons with ease. For the intervention to be successful, subjects are expected to actively engage in outdoor activities, improve their relationships with friends and family and avoid procrastination.
Griffiths, M. D. & Widyanto, L. (2006). ‘Internet Addiction’: A Critical Review. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4, 31-51.
Hawkins, N. G., Sanson-Fisher, R. W., Shakeshaft, A., D’Este, C. & Green, L. W. (2007). The Multiple Baseline Design for Evaluating Population-Based Research. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33(2), 162-168.
Kim, Y., J, Park, Y. J., Kim, B. S., Lim, Y. S. & Kim, J.(2010). The effects of Internet Addiction on the Lifestyle and Dietary Behavior of Korean Adolescents. Nutrition Research and Practice, 4(1), 51-57. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2010.4.1.51
Kuss, D. J. (2016). Internet Addiction: The Problem and Treatment. The Turkish Journal on Addictions, 3(2), 185-192.
Young, K. (2007). Cognitive Behavior Therapy with Internet Addicts: Treatment Outcomes and Implications. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 10(5), 671-681.
Young, K. (2009). Understanding Online Gaming Addiction and Treatment Issues for Adolescents. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 37, 355-372.
Weinstein, A., Feder, L. C., Rosenberg, K. P. & Dannon, P. (2014). Internet Addiction Disorder:Overview and Controversies. Behavioural Addictions, 99-117.
This table shows data collected before, during and after the intervention was implemented.
Source: Young, K. (2007). Cognitive Behavior Therapy with Internet Addicts: Treatment Outcomes and Implications. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 10(5), 671-681.
Willingness to change
Engagement in offline activities
Abstinence from possible causes
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