The addiction to ICT is a relatively new phenomenon but one that is gaining more and more importance. The reasons are obvious: Internet and the new electronic devices connected to the network of networks have burst in our society, with positive and negative consequences.
The truth is that for many people, the possibility of connecting at any time and always find new content through its screen has become, more than a habit, a need that can not be dispensed with.
Given that for many people this dependency has become a problem that significantly affects their quality of life, in this article we will see how psychologists intervene in cases of addiction to ICT, as well as several characteristics of this phenomenon.
What is addiction to ICT?
First of all, we must bear in mind that what is popularly known as addiction to ICT is not an addiction according to the diagnostic manuals, in which in most cases this word is used only for cases of substance dependence. few exceptions
In this case we are talking about a type of behavior that has degenerated into psychological dependence.
Psychological dependence can be defined as a set of behaviors whose function is to satisfy an intense desire or a yearning for which it is difficult to disengage the attentional focus; that is to say, that in case of not doing what this need requires, the urgency appears to direct all our attention towards it, as well as irritability, anxiety and in certain cases even agitation at the physiological level.
To give an example, a person with addiction to ICT is missing connect to their social networks through mobile if more than five minutes have not done, and if you can not satisfy that, think about how to do it As soon as possible despite being doing activities that have nothing to do with that, until the discomfort is so intense that you feel you must connect virtually at all costs, without thinking about the consequences.
How do psychologists intervene?
The psychological intervention has in these cases two different moments: prevention, to avoid that these causes of discomfort develop in those who are more vulnerable to it, and the psychological evaluation and the consequent therapy.
The actions of prevention are carried out in most of the occasions in educational centers and independent talks to fathers and mothers, and have as objective that the youngest and their parents learn to distinguish between bad habit, abuse and addiction.
In general, we try to provide children and adolescents with practical examples that describe different ways to use the most popular electronic devices in these age groups: tablets, smartphones, etc.
It is also possible to carry out intervention programs aimed at other vulnerable groups in persons already adults, in which case it is more important to focus efforts on reaching 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 dependence on ICT; but we must be clear that the therapeutic approach must be adapted to each particular case. This is usually done by an interdisciplinary team, which will evaluate 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 the family
When the problem is detected, the patient and his 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 must have guidelines for action both in times of crisis and in dealing with the patient, so as not to promote relapse.
2. Indication of the type of intervention
On the other hand, depending on whether the case is serious or not and if that interferes with the fundamental needs of the person, a period of therapeutic admission will be indicated (in the most extreme cases).
If the admission is unnecessary, an outpatient or punctual treatment will be carried out in consultation with psychologists once or twice a week.
3. Training in strategies to avoid falling
During the moments of therapeutic care, the main objective is that the person adapts to a way of life in which ICTs do not have as much presence, and abandoning their use as much as possible, except for what is strictly necessary, and To make that transition, you will be taught strategies to avoid stimuli of this type.
For example, how can you avoid being close to mobile phones, what to do in times of anxiety due to the inability to use ICT, training in relaxation exercises, etc.
In addition, strategies are also applied to keep patient motivation high, and at the same time it is he himself who finds sources of motivation in what he considers relevant.
4. Attention to other possible psychological problems
It should also be taken into account if the person also has a history of other types of psychological problems or even parallel addictions (the latter is very common), in order to adapt the type of intervention.
After having gone through a stage in which the need to be constantly connected to ICT has decreased to reach levels without clinical discomfort, we move on to the stage of rehabilitation, in which the goal is to relearn new ways of living without relapse 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 get trained in this field?
There are several options for health professionals interested in training in this and other forms of addiction and dependence. 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 that runs parallel to the changes in the ways of living.