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In short, yes, you can be addicted to the internet. Many adolescents and teenagers spend a lot of time on social media, video games, and other activities on screens. The constant pressures to be the “next internet sensation” and the growing trend of becoming a “Creator” or just sitting around wasting time watching TikTok videos can end up taking a lot of time from the teen’s days. A November 2022 survey found almost 40 percent of Gen Z in the U.S. spent more than four hours on social media platforms daily. As of 2022, the average Gen Z user in the U.S. spent over 1,500 minutes watching content on YouTube every month. Internet addiction is common among all age groups and its prevalence is as follows: 13-17 (73%), 18-24 (71%), 25-34 (59%), 35-44 (54%), 45-54 (40%), 55-64 (39%), and 64+ (44%). Approximately 6.09% of the global population suffers from internet addiction. According to a 2022 survey of internet users in the United States, nearly half of respondents, 48 percent, considered themselves addicted or somewhat addicted to digital devices. Even with those large numbers, excessive internet use has not yet been recognized as a disorder by the World Health Organization, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) because screens don’t affect kids’ brains the same way that drugs or alcohol would. However, the diagnosis of gaming disorder has been included in the ICD-11.
First, make sure that all of their online activities take place where you can see what’s going on. Don’t let your children spend time on their phones or laptops behind closed doors. Set daily limits on acceptable amounts of screen time — and make sure that they do not go over the allotted screen time.
Social media addiction is defined as having uncontrollable urges to use social media, being overly concerned about people or things on social media, and feeling like you are going to miss something “important” on Facebook, to the point that you devote so much time and effort to these social media accounts that it messed up real-life areas. This is a form of behavioral addiction. Short-term effects of social media and online addiction include unfinished tasks, forgotten responsibilities, and weight gain. Effects such as neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, backache, and vision problems from staring at the screen are common in long-term internet addiction.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and group therapy for treating Internet addiction in adolescents are considered effective in reducing symptoms of addiction to video games in particular and overuse of the Internet in general. If there is an underlying mental illness found in your teen, medication may be used to help manage symptoms and impulses to use the internet. Talk therapy is almost always incorporated into the treatment of Internet addiction. Start in your own home if you can by limiting internet and screen time, planning time for family activities, and time away from all screens including TV. Get involved with your teen and be interested in their lives. Ask them questions and then listen to what they have to say.
If you need help for an adult in your life Addiction No More is a locator service for treatment programs for adults.