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Internet Addiction in Adolescents: Literature Review

Info: 1896 words (8 pages) Essay
Published: 16th Apr 2018 in Psychology

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My topic is on social media usage and adolescents; I have found 3 researched based articles in excessive internet usage with treatments provided. First I will be explaining an article about compulsive internet use among adolescents-parent-child relationships since little is known of about the role parents can play to prevent their children from developing Compulsive Internet Use (CIU). The second article, explains excessive Internet use is considered by excessive, poorly controlled urges or behaviours regarding computer use and Internet access that leads to impairment or distress. The types of treatment that are more commonly used include CBT and self-help books however there needs to be more evidence based treatment provided. The third article explains how writing a personal diary and/or online-blogging is a therapeutic means for relieving emotional stress and promotes well-being, helping in coping with developmental challenges and used as a self-help treatment.

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The first article I have found discusses about compulsive internet use among adolescents- parent-child relationships. It is mentioned that parents are constantly concerned about their children using the internet excessively, and little is known about the role parents can play to prevent their children from developing Compulsive Internet Use (CIU) (Van, p.77). Two studies have been conducted to address associations between internet specific parenting practices and CIU among adolescents’. The first study is a cross-sectional study using a sample of 4,483 Dutch students and the second study was a longitudinal study using self-selected sample of 510 Dutch adolescents. Results have suggested that qualitatively good communication regarding internet use is a promising tool for parents to prevent their teenage children from developing CIU. Additionally, parental reactions to excessive internet use and parental rules regarding the content of internet use may also help prevent CIU (Van, p.77). In my opinion I feel parents need to monitor and limit the time children spend on the internet in order to prevent their children from developing CIU. I believe parents need to be firmer about the time of internet is being used with their children, therefore endorsing habitual tendencies and behaviours. Research has it indicated that parents are an important influence, and their parenting promotes and prevents Internet-related problems. Studies indicate, parents-child relationships was negatively associated with level of Internet usage among students, and parent-adolescent conflict, and lower satisfaction with family functioning, were related to adolescent Internet addiction (Van, p.78). This may indicate that parents have little to no control over how much time their children spend on the internet and are not controlling usage. This may also indicate some parents are powerless to control their own children for being too attached to the Internet and are unable to be in command of their online attraction. It is evident that there are not many treatments available for excessive internet use in children and adolescence.

The second article is called Internet addiction or excessive internet use. Weinstein illustrates that excessive Internet use is considered by poorly controlled urges or behaviours regarding computer use and Internet access that leads to impairment or distress. The objective was to review literature on internet addiction and excessive internet uses are topics of diagnosis, phenomenology and treatment. Researches have indicated that internet usage for individuals have difficulty suppressing their extreme online behaviours’ in real life, little is known about patho-physiological and cognitive mechanisms responsible for too much internet usage and internet addiction. This is due to lack of methodologically adequate research available, it is currently impossible to recommend any evidence-based treatment of internet addiction and internet use (p.277). Researchers indicated that excessive internet use is associated with a loss sense of time, or neglect of basic drives, feelings of anger, tension, or depression when the computer is inaccessible, tolerance, including the need for a better computer, or more hours of use, poor school or vocational achievement, and social isolation are involved (Weinstein, p.278). As for treatment, internet use is based on intervention and strategies used in dealing with substance used disorders. Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) indicates that most clients are able to manage their complaints by the 8th session. CBT and psychosocial support may be helpful, along with online self-help books and tapes. A self-imposed ban on computer use and internet access may be necessary in some cases (Weinstein, p.281). In terms of treatment, working with a professional therapist is recommended, even though not all professionals may believe that excessive internet use may be a serious issue. However, looking at self-help books may be beneficial to some, though you may want to make sure that the author is a qualified psychologist professional, since there are many unqualified people writing books.

The third article indicates that writing personal diary and online-blogging is a therapeutic means for relieving emotional stress and promotes well-being, and diary writing during adolescence helps in coping with developmental challenges. Current technologies and cultural trends make it possible to publish personal diaries on the internet through blogs, online forms etc. Researchers examined a therapeutic value of blogging for adolescents that experience social emotional difficulties. The experiment includes adolescence having social-emotional difficulties, having 6 groups (26-28) participants in each. Four groups were assigned to blogging (Writing about their difficulties, open or closed), 2 groups assigned to writing a diary on personal computers. Participants in the groups were instructed to post messages at least twice a week over 10 weeks. The outcome measures were of social-emotional difficulties, self-esteem, and textual posts. Results showed participants who maintained a blog improved on all measures. Participants writing about their difficulties in blogs open to responses gained the most as a self-help treatment (Boniel-Nissim, p.333). Researchers have found that teens writing frequently online brought up topics that bothered them; social isolation and loneliness were common topics. The appearance of internet-based communication has brought about flourishing writing opportunities. The sense of anonymity and invisibility experienced by internet users promotes their confidence to express thoughts and feelings (Boniel-Nissim, p.333). Studies indicate that they can release their pressures and vent emotions without facing anyone. Online writing enables free expression and easy reading, online therapy has emerged as a possible treatment procedure. It can act as a legal complementary procedure to traditional face-to-face approaches (Boniel-Nissim, p.334). It is indicated that blogging online provides adolescents with a safe area for self-exposure that contributes to happiness, beneficial environment, promotes sharing and reciprocal feedback. An adolescent that feels socially rejected in their school physical environment can exploit the space he/ or she manages as an equal, doing so, the internet use can create a new, improve self-image and increase confidence as a way for treatment (Boniel-Nissim, p.338).

As a whole, all three articles share a relation in certain areas. The first article explains that excessive internet usage needs to be the centre of attention and treatment is of need to control this chaos for adolescence. The adolescence do not see any harm with spending vast amount of time on the web, they are oblivious to see it as an issue. Parents are unable to provide treatment, though parental control could possibly be a ‘treatment’ if the parents were able to put more effort and time with being stricter with their children, then there would be a decrease in excessive internet users. Looking at the second article, internet use is considered by urges which leads to impairment or distress. Internet users are unable to suppress their real life problems in the real world. Different researchers use their own language to explain this condition, such as internet addiction, compulsive internet users, pathological internet use and etc. I think that too much of internet use is recognized as a disorder, it should not be considered as an illness. However, it should be taken as a concerning issue around adolescence capability to control their online usage, and as a result harmful consequences may effect from their chaos. There needs to be more treatments available for excessive users rather then the typical CBT and self-help books. The third article stated that writing personal diary and online-blogging is a therapeutic means for relieving emotional stress and promotes well-being, and diary writing during adolescence helps in coping with developmental challenges (Boniel-Nissim, p.333). This demonstrates that authors of both articles Boniel-Nissim and Weinstein indicate a similarity that adolescence and internet usage appears to benefit them from the outside world. Overusing the internet helps adolescence become self-confident, learns how to socialize online in turn helping them socialize outside, and helps them find their self-image and personality. This appears to be a self-help treatment since there is possibly no other treatment available for them, besides CBT treatment which is meant for internet addictions’ that are in need of professional assistance. Looking at the first article, parents are unable to control their children over the amount of hours spent online, however parents may feel it is an ‘addiction’ and it may be that their children are unable to express and relate to their parents of reasons why they use the internet as a coping mechanism, it may be due to social and cultural factors. Van’s article illustrates there is a problem with excessive use of internet being used by adolescence, meanwhile Boniel-Nissim and Weinstein’s article illustrate that excessive use of internet by adolescence is therapeutic and helps them suppress their personal issues by expressing freely online and venting out their stress, rather than face-to-face. This also benefits them to increase with their social skills and provides them the confidence needed; therefore it is a self-help treatment that is being used.


Boniel-Nissim, M., & Barak, A. (2013). The therapeutic value of adolescents’ blogging about social–emotional difficulties. Psychological Services, 10(3), 333-341.doi:10.1037/a0026664

Van Eijnden, R. M., Spijkerman, R., Vermulst, A. A., van Rooij, T. J., & Engels, R. E. (2010). Compulsive internet use among adolescents: Bidirectional parent–child relationships. Journal Of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(1), 77-89. doi:10.1007/s10802-009-9347-8

Weinstein, A., & Lejoyeux, M. (2010). Internet addiction or excessive Internet use. The American Journal Of Drug And Alcohol Abuse, 36(5), 277-283. doi:10.3109/00952990.2010.491880


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