Have you noticed how lately it seems people are living through their smart phones? Have you ever seen a couple in a restaurant staring into their devices not even attempting a conversation? Or kids so busy updating their Instagram or Snapchat profiles, not even making sure they have any real life friends? Well, you sure aren’t not the only one.
The sad and undeniable truth is that we humans can get addicted to just about anything. Whether its alcohol, drugs, caffeine, food or internet, we find it extremely hard for some reason to keep everything in moderation and find balance. It’s not surprising than, that some teens have reached such an extent that makes them actually need professional help.
Recently, a strange new phenomenon called Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) has been spreading and raising many concerns. The concerns focus on two main characteristics – the amount of time one spends on social media, and the reasons for doing it. As most teens today have a constant desire to check on their accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, they can’t really tell what is a “normal” amount of time to spend online, and when they have exceeded it, missing on their real life, In addition, the availability and detailed graphics of online gaming also made it practically impossible to ignore.
The Heavensfield Retreat Center has recently announced its newest program called reSTART – a recovery treatment for internet addicts near Seattle, Washington.
The 45 day (and $14,500) rehabilitation program is designed to help heavy internet users to decrease excessive use and dependency on the internet and develop moderate and balanced habits. About 2-6 people can participate at a time in the program that prevents them from going online while practicing “old school” social interactions. The schedule of the program includes exercise, hikes, therapy and group sessions.
Who qualified for the program, you wonder? Well, the first patient was a 19 year old who could not stop playing the World of Warcraft, but now the center has published a guideline of the symptoms you need to experience to qualify to enroll in the program.
The guidelines include:
1. Have a strong impulse to use the internet.
2. Withdrawal symptoms (e.g., general malaise, restlessness, irritability, lack of concentration, dyssomnia) due to unavailability of the internet; the above mentioned symptoms may be relieved by similar electronic media (e.g., TV, handheld games, gaming devices).
3. Increasing the use of internet and extent of internet required to to reach some feeling of satisfaction.
4. Use of internet is very hard to stop, in spite of known and acknowledged harmful effects
5. Experiencing Difficulty in controlling the duration of time online; continuous failed attempts to limit time of beginning and end of internet use.
6. Social activities, recreation or physical life interests neglected or abandoned in favor of online presence.
7. Internet perceived as an escape island from real life problems or negative feelings.
8. The extent and duration of internet use or presence is denied to other or minimized
9. Damage to work or study productivity, family and social life, or everyday functions.