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In the last section, we discussed underlying emotional causes that trigger a client’s problematic internet use. These underlying causes included: depression; low self-esteem; and anxiety.
In this section, we will examine challenges regarding pre-adolescents who become addicted to the internet. These concepts include: susceptible clients; warning signs; and acceptance.
♦ #1 Susceptible Clients
Charlie, age 11, was described by his parents as "quiet" and "obedient." Rarely did Charlie ever talk back or refuse to complete a task his parents had asked him to do. However, the day Charlie received a computer for his birthday, Jackie and Bill, his parents, began to notice changes in his behavior.
Jackie stated, "He spent more and more time in his room and started talking back to us. I’ve never heard a wise crack from him before, but when I ask him to wash the dishes, he tells me to do it myself, and that he has important stuff to do on his computer. What could be so important that he can’t spare five minutes and do a chore?"
I explained to them, "Charlie is beginning to gain something from the computer he never had before: confidence. Lately, he’s been playing games with other boys online and because he has become skilled at them, he feels that this is the only way to gain independence. Soon, Charlie will be hitting puberty where he will have to face new challenges." Think of your Charlie. Was he or she an introverted child before he or she discovered the internet?
♦ #2 Warning Signs
Luke, her father, stated, "It was so out of line, I couldn’t believe it! I never thought she would do something this extreme just to get online!" To help parents like Luke understand the progression of problematic internet use, I gave him a list of warning signs that could make him more alert to the development of his daughter’s problematic internet use. Listen to the following warning signs. Do they seem accurate to you?
I asked Luke if he had ever noticed any of these characteristics in Julie. He stated, "Her grades had been slipping for a while, but I thought she was just having trouble sleeping at night. I didn’t think she could be online that whole time!" Think of your Luke. Would he or she be aided in understanding problematic internet use by becoming more aware of warning signs?
Technique: Parent-Child Confrontation Tips
Think of your child clients who have problematic internet use. Would this exercise be helpful in breaking them of the internet habit?
♦ #3 Acceptance
Justin, age 12, was finding it difficult to make friends at school. Starting middle school, he felt isolated in this new environment. To add to this, his parents had started fighting regularly about money. Feeling that there was no one he could turn to for help, Justin began gaming online. He made friends quickly, other young teens who felt the same way about parents and high school.
Justin stated, "It was like finding the friends I always wished I had. I tell these guys everything and they’re real understanding." His parents, Linda and Kasey, were concerned that their son no longer shared anything with them.
I stated to them, "At this point in his life, Justin is experiencing a stage that all pre-adolescents must face where he feels alienated from you. I suggest becoming more interested in his concerns such as: how he’s adjusting at school and how he’s getting on with other peers. Also, learn more about the internet itself and why Justin has become particularly addicted to it. By becoming more understanding in this respect, you might be able to provide Justin with a larger confidence group."
Think of your Justin. Does he or she use the internet to gain acceptance?
In this section, we discussed concepts regarding children who become addicted to the internet. These concepts included: susceptible clients; warning signs; and acceptance.
In the next section, we will examine concepts related to partners of clients with problematic internet use. These concepts include: cyberaffairs; enabling; and asserting independence.
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