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Addictions Interventions for Teens with a Web/Technological Addiction
Web Addicted Teens continuing education MFT CEUs

Section 1
Internet Addiction Among Adolescents and Emerging Adults

CEU Question 1 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Introduction | Internet
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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In this section, we will examine four techniques useful in introducing the idea of internet addiction to teen clients.  These three introductory techniques include: Defining Addiction; Web Quiz; and Assessing the Damage.

As of 2021, 95% of teens in the US use the internet, mostly via mobile phones. This new generation is developing in a time of mass consumerism and mass communication.  Although they may feel more connected, they are in fact only connected to a world that does not reflect reality.  This fantasy web land seduces teenagers into an escapism that can ultimately result in addiction.

4 Techniques to Introduce the Idea of Internet Addiction

♦ #1 Defining Addiction

The first technique is "Defining Addiction."  I have found that many clients associate the word "addiction" with "substance abuse" and never with behaviors or lifestyle choices.  I often find it useful to define for them the broader definition in relation to behavioral actions. 

Ron, age 14, had first been introduced to the seductive power of the web through online movie message boards in which he made a completely different identity for himself.  During the week, he would spend over eighty hours online posting on message boards and playing games.   He would rarely sleep.  When he finally collapsed from exhaustion one day at school, Ron had suspected that it might be an emotional problem.  He described his lifestyle to me, and I decided to suggest that he might have an addiction to the internet. 

Ron stated, "How can I be addicted?!  It's just a machine.  It's not like I'm inhaling anything!"  Have you heard claims like this before?  I asked him the following question, "Ron, what do you think an addict is?"  He stated, "Someone who can't get control of their lives because of a drug." I replied, "What if you replaced ‘drug’ with 'action'?  Couldn't that also have the same effect on someone's life too?  Really, an addiction is a behavior or substance that draws us in so much that it interferes with our lives and we lose control." 

Think of your Ron.  How would you define "addiction" to him or her?

♦ #2 Web Quiz
The second technique is "Web Quiz" which I found useful in helping Ron become more aware of how his addiction was affecting his life.  The quiz asked specific questions relating to Ron's attitude towards the internet.  The quiz also focused on the dimensions of his everyday life.  Read the following questions and think about your internet-addicted client.  Would he or she benefit from this quiz?

  1. Do you feel preoccupied with the internet?
  2. Do you feel the need to use the internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
  3. Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop internet use?

After taking the quiz, Ron stated, "This sounds a lot like what a heroin addict would be doing, not a sane person.  But it's exactly how I've lived my life for the past few months."  Think of your client.  What other questions could you ask him or her?  Would playing this section for one of your internet-addicted clients be beneficial?

♦ #3 Assessing the Damage:  Part One
In addition to "Defining Addiction" and "Web Quiz," the third technique is "Assessing the Damage."  Janelle, age 15, had become increasingly involved with teen chat rooms that were sometimes notoriously frequented by pedophiles.  She had already been propositioned twice by males who told her they were 16 and younger. 

Janelle stated, "I loved the attention.  It was great!  No one judged me except by what I gave them.  Everyone at school calls me fatso.  I wasn't fat to those guys at their computer.  But when I couldn't stop, it started getting serious.  They started calling my house and my mom picked up once.  I was so scared they were going to find me." 

I asked her, "How do you know that those chat buddies aren't all thirty or older?  Would they tell you if they knew it would repulse you?"  Janelle stated, "Well, no.  And I guess I can't really tell how they feel about me over instant messenger."  I asked Janelle to "Assess the Damage" that her internet usage has done to her actions in public and to write these observations down in a journal. 

Janelle wrote, "I can't trust anyone I can't see.  I'm afraid of new things.  I feel much better being quiet and by myself."  Rather than improving her self-esteem, her trauma with the internet caused Janelle to become more of a recluse.  Think of your Janelle.  Is he or she suffering from low self-esteem?  Is he or she compensating with long hours on the computer?

♦ #4 Assessing the Damage:  Part Two
The second part of "Assessing the Damage" involves measuring the extent of the internet usage during a client's day.  I gave my teen clients Janelle and Ron the following questionnaire to assess how far they had allowed themselves to become involved with the internet.  I asked them to answer the following questions with "not at all," "rarely," "occasionally," "often," or "always."  The questionnaire included, but was not excluded to the following questions.

  1. How often do you find that you stay online longer than you intended?
  2. How often do you form new relationships with fellow online users?
  3. How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend online?

While Janelle only answered "occasionally" to many of these questions, Ron answered "often" and "always" to nearly every question.  Obviously, these two clients varied significantly in their absorption into the internet.  Think of your Ron and Janelle.  How do you think he or she would respond to these questions?  How deeply are they involved in internet usage?

In this section, we presented techniques useful in introducing the idea of internet addiction to clients.  These techniques included: Defining Addiction; Web Quiz; and Assessing the Damage.

In the next section, we will examine types of emotional attachment to the internet.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Montag, C., Flierl, M., Markett, S., Walter, N., Jurkiewicz, M., & Reuter, M. (2011). Internet addiction and personality in first-person-shooter video gamers. Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, and Applications, 23(4), 163–173. 

Smahel, D., Brown, B. B., & Blinka, L. (2012). Associations between online friendship and Internet addiction among adolescents and emerging adults. Developmental Psychology, 48(2), 381–388. 

Zajac, K., Ginley, M. K., Chang, R., & Petry, N. M. (2017). Treatments for Internet gaming disorder and Internet addiction: A systematic review. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 31(8), 979–994.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 1
What are three techniques useful in introducing the idea of internet addiction to clients? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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