(By Letizia Cingolani) In this article I’ll speak about the widespread phenomenon of web addiction among young people. I wrote this article with the help of a colleague, Lisa Palombo who is a teacher too.
The cases of web addiction in the internet age are exponentially increasing among young people. Since elementary school most children have a mobile phone, through which to connect to the network. It is estimated that among children from twelve to fifteen years old it is increasingly common an almost uncontrolled use of the web. About four out of ten boys compulsively check emails and Facebook, hoping to have received messages. Some of them say to lose track of time when they are online, while others say to feel restless, nervous and sad if they cannot access the web. So the web frustrates the natural boys’ desire to communicate, to open to the world, to meet new people, to belong to a group. The web is a solution to the loneliness of children, offering them often without even having to leave home, an opportunity for recreation and relaxation of the real problems. So they can escape from a world perceived as hostile or vacuum. They access instead in a virtual world. Often stress, anxiety and depression facilitate the escape from the reality.
It is natural that all young people are attracted by the network. But in the case of web addiction the boy’s ability to satisfy their relational needs is almost canceled. In this case boys spend most of their time on the network. The loss of interest for people who belong to real life is accompanied – in case of web addiction – by physical symptoms, such as loss or weight gain, sleep problems, headaches, vision problems. This make very difficult to perform schoolwork, with consequent effects in terms of self-esteem.
Adult people run a serious risk too. Often unemployed and discouraged people take refuge more and more frequently on the web, perhaps in search of sites where you can easily win money. That’s why dependence on the web is so frequently accompanied by pathological gambling.
However it must be said that you can go out from web addiction. But you have to work on several levels. So when a psychotherapist takes charge of a young man who has addiction problems, it should be established a “virtuous connection” with the real social network, i.e. family and school. Being alone in front of the problem will make it easier to fall. This work has to be accompanied by the consolidation of the internal structure of the person. Psychotherapist has to help this people to understand who they really are and what they want out of life, aiming to strengthen the identity and self-esteem. A real self-esteem is based not only on what you can do, but on the feeling of your personal value.
It is very important that family and school collaborate together to limit the use of computer devices. While working together to help the boy, he will get angry, saying that the parents of classmates leave them to use internet for a long time and so he will be bored to death. Being resolute in helping the boys affected by web addiction means to pass a double lesson: that a thing is not good for the simple fact that all people do it and that boredom helps to listen themselves and to think. Perhaps they will be reminded that there are alternative ways to spend the time, such as sports, reading and listening to good music. These are strategies that have always helped men feel less alone.
Dr. Cingolani’s Office is in Rome, near San Peter’s Church. If you want to contact her, you can write to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org