Rose Hoban’s article titled Internet Addiction: Latest Obsession brings up an interesting topic that is indeed emerging as a challenge for behavioral health professionals. In that article Hoban references Psychologist Louise Nadeau’s statement that “addiction is marked by two phenomena…the first is that a person has a behavior he or she can’t control”, and the other being “that the behavior causes a series of problems in many spheres of your life.” She continues that “You’re having problems with your work, you’re having problems with your social network, you’re having problems also with your mental health.”
I think a big contributor to Internet addiction is the advancement of technology. As technology advances computers are becoming more affordable for persons who 5 years ago would not have dreamed of having a computer in their home. If you remember the evolution of the television, 25 to 30 years ago families were fortunate to have just one in their home. However, as the prices of televisions have dropped tremendously from 25 year ago, today most homes have 2, 3, or more. The same is happening today with computers. As the prices have dropped, computers are gaining more of a presence in homes. Today, it is uncommon to not have a computer in your home and homes with kids often will have a computer in the child’s room as well. So with the accessibility of computers increasing, Internet addiction is becoming more prevalent in society. The other draw to the Internet is that it offers immediate gratification. Rather it’s gambling, shopping, pornography, or gaming just a click of the mouse and an addict can be engaged in their addiction.
While Hoban’s article states Psychologist Louise Nadeau is doing more study to develop a standard of treatment for Internet addiction, I can add that flooding is not a treatment intervention I would recommend. Flooding is a therapeutic technique sometimes used by professionals where they “prescribe” the behavior with which the client is struggling. The idea is that the client will become overexposed to the behavior such that it no longer brings them pleasure and they stop. This technique would only feed the addiction and work to strengthen it, as noted in the article where the man spent 2 weeks in the airport’s Internet cafe and never went on his vacation. With Internet addiction, I feel it is up to the professional to look at the need the behavior is meeting for the client, evaluate with the client the legitimacy of the need, and then seek an alternative behavior to meet the legitimate needs of the client. This is putting it in simple terms, but a lot of work would need to be done to extinguish the behavior associated with Internet addiction.