America now exists in a time when everything is accessible at the touch of a button. Computers are widely available, and relatively inexpensive.
Adolescents are required to use computers for school work and there are many extracurricular activities that revolve around technology and the use of computers. As is true for everything in life, in moderation, computer use can have many benefits for a teenager’s education and growth. However, with such easy accessibility, excessive computer use can become detrimental for a young person. Though it may seem insignificant at first, the habitual abuse of computer time can cause physical, emotional, and mental damage to a developing brain. Currently, computer addiction is not listed as a psychological disorder, though there was discussion about its inclusion in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), as it is becoming a widespread problem for adolescents. Computer addiction is the excessive and compulsive use of computers (gaming, social media, YouTube, endless web searching…etc.) regardless of the negative consequences that may occur. When a young person’s excessive computer use causes negative consequences in one’s life, he or she may be suffering from computer addiction.
The main signs that are exhibited in a young person dealing with computer addiction are similar to that of any other addiction or compulsion. There are several warning signs listed below you can look out for if there is concern that your teen may have a computer addiction. Some of them include any combination of the following:
• Unable to reduce amount of time spent on the computer
• Irritable, depressed, and or anxious when teenager is not on the computer
• Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities
• Abandoning friendships
• Isolating from family
• Falling behind in school
• Dry eyes
• Physical aches and pains
• Poor personal hygiene
Relationships with loved ones (family and friends) can be greatly affected by a teens computer addiction. It is, however, important to be mindful of the fact that the behaviors associated with computer addiction are not necessarily done consciously by the teen. If the amount of time your adolescent is spending on his or her computer is impeding his or her daily life, computer addiction treatment may be beneficial.
How to Help
The support needed for each teen struggling with computer addiction will vary. There are many factors that play into the treatment plan for a teenager with computer addiction. At Pacific Teen Treatment when creating a tailored treatment plan for a young person we will take into consideration the following: personal health history, age, and severity of the compulsive computer use. We will also be sure to take into account whether or not there is a presence of any comorbid disorders. We create individualized, unique treatment plans for each of our teenagers.
When working with a teen that struggles with computer addiction, at Pacific Teen Treatment, we work on helping teach a proper balance and moderation to when it comes to his or her computer use. This is accomplished through restricted access at times, but never completely ridding the use of computers from a young person’s life. In this day in age it is unrealistic to take a healing approach of complete abstinence from computers.
We have skilled mental health professionals that use a number of different therapeutic modalities, including talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). For adolescents are addicted to the computer we make sure to provide very little (in some cases none), structured, and monitored computer time. Part of the treatment process at Pacific Teen Treatment is to help our teens learn healthy daily schedules. We integrate exercise, proper sleep patterns and relaxation methods into our treatment plans. We also feel it is important to nourish the body with nutritious foods and offer wholesome meals at our facility. Unfortunately, computer addiction is now a common struggle for our youth, but with proper treatment a young person can recover and move forward with his or her life.
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. In order to maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Seeking support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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