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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Internet addiction treatment

Centers have existed since 1995 that specialize in treating Internet addiction. Proctor Hospital offered one of the first inpatient settings and several have sprung up across the US. It is something that is slowly evolving and being addressed as a serious condition, requiring inpatient residential care. More will be discussed related to inpatient care in the years to come. For now, the biggest treatment strategy that works is cognitive-behavioral talk therapy, used on an outpatient basis. Treatment studies can be read online at http://www.netaddiction.com/ under ARTICLES but we have long-term data suggesting recovery upon 12 weekly sessions and upon six-month follow-up. This is a good start to a larger dialogue where we need more data on treatment options and treatment efficacy for each. Right now, it seems treatment centers are opening without using standardized techniques or assessment procedures. We need more collaboration on what will work and development of clear standards of practice.

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China Web Addiction Clinics

A story out of China explores the aggressive treatment approach used in Internet addiction recovery. A 14-year-old boy allegedly beaten at a boot camp in China for young Internet addicts was in critical condition - less than three weeks after a youth at a different camp died, Chinese state media reported.

Internet use has skyrocketed in China, especially among teens. And Chinese parents have turned to hundreds of training camps that offer to wean their children -- mostly teenagers -- from excessive Internet use.

There are at least 400 private rehabilitation clinics or camps in the country, according to a recent survey by the China Youth Internet Association, adding that China has 10 million teenage Web addicts.

The injured youth's mother told Chinese media that her son "got addicted to online games and frequented Internet cafes ... at the end of last semester, my son said he didn't want to go to school."

The mother, Li Shubing, saw an ad for the training camp and hoped her son could be helped, she told China Daily. The parents signed a contract with the center and paid 5,000 yuan (about $730), she said.

In a separate incident, 15-year-old Deng Senshan died after his parents sent him to a summer training camp for his Internet addiction, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua. That camp was in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Authorities detained several counselors and were investigating the incident. Injuries found on the body indicated the teen had been beaten, Xinhua reported.

China is in the process of classifying Internet addiction as a mental illness, according to China Tech News. Medical experts have called for laws and regulations to govern treatment.

Last month the government banned electro-shock therapy as treatment for Internet addiction after abuses were reported. Internet users claiming to have received the treatment wrote in blogs and forums about being tied down and subjected to shocks for 30 minutes at a time.

These seem harsher treatment methods than the cognitive-behavioral talk therapy used in the US. We need treatment outcome data to support use of various treatment methods, unfortunately, to date, there is only one study showing the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Studies need to be conducted that examine what treatments work the best with what patients suffering from Internet addiction.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Facebook Addiction and Jealousy

A new peer-reviewed study suggests the time spent on Facebook by college students is directly related to feelings of jealousy toward their romantic partner. The view is self-perpetuating as jealousy leads to more time on Facebook searching for additional information –- a behavior that exacerbates their jealousy. In fact, the escalating cycle may become addictive, according to a study reported in CyberPsychology & Behavior. The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/cpb.

Amy Muise, MSc, Emily Christofides, MSc, and Serge Desmarais, PhD, from the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada), surveyed young adults involved in romantic relationships.
They discovered time on social networking sites such as Facebook can lead to new knowledge about their partners that can make them jealous. The jealousy, in turn, leads them to spend more time involved in online surveillance in an effort to uncover even more jealousy-provoking information.

Can Facebook bring out a vicious cycle? Does using Facebook have a negative impact on relationships and bring out feelings of jealousy? It seems that the activity itself can create a problem in relationships if done to excess. That is, using Facebook can hurt a relationship if a partner is spending all their time talking with online friends instead of going to the movies or to dinner with a spouse.

In the new world of social networking, jealousy can parallel the ways that relationships behave offline. A harmless comment can trigger trouble. Something that hurt a once stable relationship.