Sep 19, 2021
7 mins read
While most parents take teen internet addiction as a simple manageable parenting matter, internet addiction is a serious issue. Some experts even advocate for the inclusion of the subject in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Millennials have lived with the internet all their lives thus enabling them to create contacts with family, friends, teachers, and even strangers and stalkers. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, TikTok, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Instagram make enable teenagers to socialize with their peers with a press of a button (Soh, Chew, Koay, & Ang, 2018). Easy access to the internet is an excellent way to stay to get entertained and to catch up with peers and loved ones. However, long hours glued to the screen may lead to addiction and other social vices.
Teenage internet addiction is a thorn in the flesh in society today and there is a need to address the issue seriously. One becomes addicted to the internet once they start to display withdrawal tendencies and spending more time on their electronic gadgets as smartphones, laptops, and iPads just to access the internet to chat with friends. Affected individuals may also show feelings of anxiety in case the internet is disconnected, or if they are not observing personal hygiene. Addiction to the internet may have the same neurological symptoms as to those addicted to a behavior like gambling or substance abuse such as alcohol. Similar neurochemicals get released when an individual is addicted to antisocial behaviors as well as using the internet for longer uninterrupted periods.
Effects of internet addiction to teenagers
Internet addiction has a diverse range of harmful effects on teenagers and their caregivers in general (Soh, Chew, Koay, & Ang, 2018). Teenagers that get addicted to the internet mostly suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and are usually unstable emotionally. These conditions may influence the affected individuals to quarantine themselves into a life of solitude into a fantasy utopia where they construct a fake version of themselves. Internet addiction mainly results from a number of external stressors that are related to the vice.
The teenage years are some of the most stressful and emotional stages of development (Londono, Reed, Taylor, & Bloch, 2018). Teenagers face multiple stressors on a daily basis such as parental and societal pressures to succeed where they are supposed to attain top grades. They are also supposed to excel in co-curricular activities such as sports while maintaining an image among peers (Griffiths, & Kuss, 2017). Most teenagers have negative feelings and thoughts about themselves that promote their desire to spend many hours hooked to the internet. Some teenagers who manage to successfully end their addiction to the internet normally express a feeling of therapeutic relief. The internet provides a virtual space where teenagers can escape from the realities of life to find approval feelings and social connections from peers. Teens who are in the process of advancing healthy life skills may fail to understand how to manage external stressors thus the internet becomes their only peaceful spot.
How to assess internet addiction
Addictions manifest differently from one person to the other and the symptoms are unique (Londono, Reed, Taylor, & Bloch, 2018). As with other forms of addiction such as gambling, addiction to the internet requires the victims to spend long hours on the internet to be satisfied; this makes it hard for victims to stop the vice. The internet provides them an escape space, and they may end up risking losing on life achievements. Parents are at a better place to observe any signs of internet addiction. For instance, parents will be the first to note that their teenagers are spending long hours online, or in case they showcase signs of frustration and anxiety in case the internet is not working. Other signs may include isolating from friends and hobbies, failure to complete class assignments or recording low grades in school, etc. If these behaviors are identified and managed early, it is more likely for parents to succeed in managing and eradicating the addiction.
Treatment and support
There are many adolescents with external stressors and so are the resources available and support options. Treatment options that can be applied include but are not limited to counseling, cognitive behavior therapies, and treatment through medication. The addicts can also be monitored by observing the time spent on the internet, monitoring internet use, and regular monitoring of the electronic gadgets used to access the internet.
The internet is a critical component of the world today and is always progressively evolving (Griffiths, & Kuss, 2017). The dangers of exposure to the internet and the likelihood of getting addicted requires that we balance the amount of time that we spend on the internet to interacting and socializing with the real world. Parents and health caregivers can communicate and educate the youth on the dangers posed by internet use and internet addiction.
Depression among teenagers
Most teenagers today face the problem of suicide resulting from depression. Depressed teens may feel miserable and lose their self-worth which can trigger suicidal thoughts. They feel miserable and sad about their social life and daily life. Parents need to understand that teenage depression is a serious thing that should not be ignored.
Some teenagers are not able to handle sudden changes that might occur during their stages of growth and development. Depression causes the victims to feel lonely and sad which can bring feelings of being miserable. Depression can disrupt how the brain functions and mix up with the emotional interface of the victim. Parents and caregivers need to be cautious in case they suspect symptoms of depression. Depression can be cured either through medication or counseling.
Causes of depression among teenagers
The various causes of depression among teenagers include:
Childhood trauma: trauma and shocks lead to a condition of sadness and grief, which the kid might not be able to handle. Extreme trauma in the life of a child or any other type of mental or physical exploitation can cause early symptoms of depression.
Negative thoughts: teenagers go through a transition period and some teenagers tend to take hard decisions regarding their life experiences. Lack of awareness to make the right decisions and how to solve issues can lead to depression.
Hormonal imbalance: teenage years are characterized by multiple physical changes that can cause a hormonal imbalance. Some teenagers can get depression due to cases of hormonal changes.
Inheritance: teenagers that come from a family with cases of the family are more likely to get depression.
External stressors that can trigger depression in teenagers
Teenagers have to face all sorts of stress in the course of their daily routines. In case they fail to live up to their expectations, they are likely to get depressed. Potential causes of stress that can trigger depression in teenagers include:
Unhealthy lifestyle: It’s a common thing among teenagers to have unhealthy behaviors such as deprived sleep, irregular eating routines, consumption of fast foods, all of which can be the main cause of stress and depression.
Social presence: Due to the lifestyles we have today, most teenagers tend to find it hard to make a social mark or create friendships. Teenagers are affected by bullying even though it is very at this stage in life. Teenagers may have a hard time trying to maintain multiple relationships due to disinterest.
Academic performance: Academic pressure is one key cause for depression among teenagers. Many of them are required to perform well in class as the only way to secure a better future. Many teenagers lack good management skills and it drives many to perform poorly in their academics thus contributing to stress and depression.
Symptoms of teenage depression
Depressed teenagers might display some behavioral and emotional changes. It is critical that parents take any of these signs very seriously and take the necessary with immediate effect. The main emotional symptoms include:
Frequent mood swings
Feeling frustrate and irritated
Low self-confidence and low self-esteem
Behavioral symptoms include:
Insomnia or long sleeping hours
Poor academic performance
Fluctuating body weight
Psychiatric therapy: Depressed teens should attend counseling sessions handled by qualified psychologists who can counsel the patients using diverse techniques to ensure results.
Medications: The use of antidepressants such as serotonin can be applied to manage and treat depression in teenagers.
Group therapy: teenagers can be enrolled to support group meetings where they can share their feelings and emotions, Support groups can help depressed teenagers to understand their condition and help them to open up.
Griffiths, M. D., & Kuss, D. (2017). Adolescent social media addiction (revisited). Education and Health, 35(3), 49-52.
Londono Tobon, A., Reed, M. O., Taylor, J. H., & Bloch, M. H. (2018). A systematic review of pharmacologic treatments for school refusal behavior. Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology, 28(6), 368-378.
Soh, P. C. H., Chew, K. W., Koay, K. Y., & Ang, P. H. (2018). Parents vs peers’ influence on teenagers’ Internet addiction and risky online activities. Telematics and Informatics, 35(1), 225-236.