Online addiction among young people: A parent's guide to prevention and treatment
Young people live in a digital world where smartphones, computers and social media are part of everyday life. While technological advances have brought many benefits, they have also created new challenges, such as internet addiction.
The online world of young people is full of opportunities, but also challenges. While the internet offers a lot of educational and entertaining content, it's also important to be aware of the potential risks of the internet, such as online addiction. It has a negative impact on a young person's life, but parents have the opportunity to help prevent and treat this problem.
What does adolescent Internet addiction mean?
Internet addiction refers to a situation where a person uses the internet excessively and loses control of part or all of the time they spend online or what they do there. This can take various forms, such as constant social media browsing, gaming, or constant web surfing.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to online addiction, as their lives are often tied to digital tools.
Causes of Internet addiction
It's important to understand the underlying causes of online addiction. Many factors can contribute to its development, such as:
- Emotional needs: Young people may search the internet for acceptance, attention and belonging.
- Running away from problems: The internet can provide an escape from stress, anxiety, or depression.
- Easy accessibility: Smartphones and computers are often always close by and attract you to the world of the internet.
- Reward mechanisms: Games and social media use reward mechanisms that can create addiction.
First signs and symptoms
The first signs of online addiction can manifest themselves in many ways. Parents should pay attention to e.g. the following symptoms:
- Increased time on the internet: If a young person spends significantly more time on the internet than before.
- Impaired school or work performance: Internet addiction can have a negative impact on a young person's academic or job performance.
- Deterioration of social relationships: Young people may withdraw from face-to-face interactions.
- Sleep disorders: Excessive internet use can disrupt sleep patterns and cause sleep problems.
The role of parents in prevention
Parents can play an important role in preventing online addiction among young people. Some of the more important ways include:
- Open communication: Discuss the use of the Internet and its risks openly with the young person.
- Setting limits: Agree together on healthy restrictions for internet use, especially in the evening and before bed.
- Leading by example: Set a good example of moderate internet use and face-to-face interaction.
Online addiction can be a challenge, but parents can help their young people balance their digital lives in a healthy way.
Treating Internet addiction
When you notice signs of online addiction in a young person, the most important thing is to have an open and non-judgmental conversation. Listen to them and try to understand why they spend a lot of time on the Internet. The aim is to find reasons for underlying feelings and needs that may lead young people to resort to excessive use of the Internet.
Set clear boundaries
Setting restrictions can help young people manage their internet use.
Agree together on clear times to turn off computers and smart devices, such as before bed or during meals.
Boundaries help young people find a balance between the digital and physical worlds.
Find alternative activities
An effective way to reduce online addiction is to offer young people alternative activities that are interesting and rewarding. This can include hobbies, exercise, reading, or time spent with friends. Help the young person find new ways to use their time that support their well-being.
Use of positive reinforcement
Use positive reinforcement to encourage young people to reduce their online addiction. Thank and reward them when they achieve their goals, such as reducing internet use at a certain time or discovering new interests. Prizes may include, for example: doing things together that the young person likes or even a trip together.
Set an example
Consider setting an example of a healthy relationship with the internet with your own behavior. If your teen sees you setting boundaries and enjoying other activities, they're likely to adopt similar practices. Let them know that you're actively paying attention to your online time and deliberately limiting it.
Overcoming online addiction takes time and patience. Continue to support and monitor the young person even when the situation seems to be improving. Continuous open discussion helps maintain the young person's commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
If your concerns about online addiction persist or worsen, consider professional help. Psychologists, therapists, and school counsellors can offer support and counselling to young people and the whole family. Professional guidance helps to deal with deeper emotional and behavioral problems.
Professional help for treating online addiction among young people with the Contral method
The Contral method developed by Contral Clinics is a well-researched and known effective method for treating various addictions, and it is also an effective aid in the treatment of online addiction in adolescents.
The Contral method is based on comprehensive and individual treatment. It responds to each young person's own needs. This is important because every young person is unique, which is why a tailored treatment program is key to successful online addiction treatment.
Cornerstones of the Contral method
- Psychological support: The team at Contral Clinics consists of experienced psychologists and therapists who specialize in addiction problems. They offer individualized therapy sessions that aim to delve deeper into the underlying causes of the adolescent and help them deal with their emotions in ways that a layperson may not be able to.
- Technology awareness: Technology is part of today's world, and avoiding it is not realistic. The Contral method teaches young people healthy ways to use technology and provides powerful tools to achieve digital balance.
- Family involvement: In the Contral method, family involvement is an integral part of treatment. Parents learn about the effects of online addiction and learn ways to support the young person during and after treatment, as the goal is always a sustainable solution.
A holistic change in young people's lives
The Contral method is not limited to treating symptoms but aims to create a holistic change in the life of an addicted adolescent. The goal is to help them find a balance between the digital and physical worlds so that young people can enjoy the benefits of technology without harmful addiction.
Internet addiction is a challenge that affects young people's well-being and quality of life very adversely at worst. Parents can play a crucial role by providing support, setting boundaries, and working together to find solutions. The most important thing is to maintain an open and compassionate relationship with the young person and offer them the opportunity to learn healthy ways to manage their online use.
If you are worried about a young person's online addiction and your own means do not seem sufficient, the Contral method may be just the help you are looking for. Contral Clinics' individual approach, professional team and holistic treatment philosophy help young people overcome the challenges of online addiction and live healthy, balanced lives in the digital world, amidst all kinds of temptations hidden behind screens. Check out our services and feel free to contact us. You can also ask the young person to take an online addiction test or fill one out on their behalf.