ICT addiction: how do psychologists intervene?

ICT addiction is a relatively new phenomenon but which takes more and more importance. The reasons are obvious: the Internet and new electronic devices connected to the network of networks have burst into our society, with both positive and negative consequences.

The truth is, for many people, the ability to log in anytime and always find new content through your screen has become, more than a habit, a need that cannot be done without.

Since for many people this addiction has become a problem that dramatically affects their quality of life, in this article we will see how psychologists intervene in cases of ICT addiction, As well as several characteristics of this phenomenon.

    What is ICT addiction?

    First of all, it should be noted that what is popularly known as ICT addiction is not addiction according to diagnostic manuals, in which in most cases this word is only used. for cases of substance dependence, with a few exceptions.

    So in this case we are talking about a type of behavior that has degenerated into psychological addiction (Non-chemical, because no specific substance is sought).

    Psychological dependence, in turn, can be defined as a set of behaviors whose function is to satisfy an intense desire or anxiety from which it is very difficult to detach attentional focus; that is to say that in case of not doing what this necessity requires, the urgency seems to direct all our attention towards it, as well as the irritability, the anguish and in some cases even the restlessness at the physiological level.

    To give an example, a person with an ICT addiction lack of connection to their social networks via mobile if you haven’t done it for more than five minutes, and if you can’t satisfy it, think about how to do it as soon as possible despite activities that have nothing to do with it, until the discomfort is so intense that he feels compelled to log on virtually free of charge, without thinking about the consequences.

      How do psychologists intervene?

      Psychological intervention in these cases has two different moments: prevention, to prevent these causes of discomfort from developing in those who are most vulnerable to them, and psychological evaluation and subsequent therapy.

      Prevention

      Prevention actions are most often carried out in schools and independent interviews with parents, that young people and their parents learn to distinguish between bad habits, abuse and addiction.

      In general, we try to provide children and adolescents with practical examples that describe different ways of using the most popular electronic devices in these age groups: tablets, smartphones, etc.

      It may also conduct intervention programs aimed at other vulnerable groups in adults, in which case it becomes more important to focus efforts on these people directly and not so much on their family environment.

      Therapy and rehabilitation

      The guidelines that we will see below are general guidelines that are followed to deal with cases of ICT addiction; but it must be clear that the therapeutic approach must be adapted to each particular case. This is usually done by an interdisciplinary team, who will assess the severity of the case and the specific needs of the subject. Beyond that, the usual strategies are as follows.

      1. Advice to the patient and his family

      When the problem is detected, the patient and their family environment are informed of what is happening. It is important that family members are well informed, as addictions require continuous monitoring, and these people should have guidelines for acting both in times of crisis and in the treatment of the patient, so as not to favor relapses.

      2. Indication of the type of intervention

      On the other hand, depending on whether the case is serious or not and whether it interferes with the basic needs of the person, a period of therapeutic admission will be indicated (in the most extreme cases).

      In the event that the entry is not required, it will be carried out outpatient or ad hoc treatment in consultation with psychologists once or twice a week.

      3. Training in strategies to avoid relapses

      During the moments of therapeutic care, the main objective is that the person adapts to a lifestyle in which ICT does not have as much presence, and abandon its use as much as possible, except for what is strictly necessary, And to make this transition, you will be taught strategies to avoid such stimuli.

      For example, how to avoid being near cell phones, what to do in times of anxiety about the inability to use ICT, practice relaxation exercises, etc.

      In addition, strategies are also applied for keep the patient’s motivation high, And that at the same time it is he who finds sources of motivation in what he considers relevant.

      4. Watch out for other possible psychological problems

      It should also be taken into account if the person also has a history of other psychological problems or even parallel addictions (the latter is very common), in order to adapt the type of intervention.

      5. Rehabilitation

      After going through a stage where the need to be constantly connected to ICT has diminished to levels without clinical discomfort, we move on to the stage of rehabilitation, in which the goal is to relearn new ways of living without falling into addiction.

      Here, the training focuses on the adoption of new relational dynamics, the avoidance of places associated with the constant consumption of ICT in the past and the development of new hobbies.

      How to train in this field?

      There are several options for healthcare professionals interested in training in this and other forms of dependence and substance abuse. In them, the important thing is to have the most up-to-date academic information and content so as not to lose sight of the reality of these psychosocial phenomena, in constant transformation which goes hand in hand with changes in lifestyles.

      An example of a recommended training program is the Masters in Prevention of Addictive Behavior at the International University of Valencia. In this online master’s degree and 60 ECTS credits, the registration period is now open, we learn to implement these preventive measures in several relevant contexts, From schools to work environments.

      On the other hand, it offers the possibility of doing work placements in public and private centers. Moreover, it only works from content with scientific evidence. For more information on this, you can click on this link.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Gómez Mena, C. (2015). “Internet addiction can destroy social relationships, warns a specialist.” The day. Society and justice: Grup Donem, Desenvolupament de Mitjans, SA de CV p. 30.
      • Shaffer, HJ and Hall, MN (1996) Estimating the Prevalence of Adolescent Game Disorders: Quantitative Synthesis and Guide to Protecting Standard Game Nomenclature. Journal of Game Studies, 12, 193-214.

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