Around 86% of students in Ontario visit social media sites daily, and around 16 percent spend at least five hours a day on these sites (CAMH, 2016). Although cyber addiction is not officially recognized as a psychological disorder, research shows many people display compulsive behaviors and symptoms of withdrawal when internet usage is restricted (Griffiths, 2013). Further, internet usage leads to changes in the brain that are similar to those present in individuals who experience drug or alcohol addictions (Dallas, 2013).
This program aims to provide a comprehensive resource for professionals, social workers, and psychotherapists on how to address cyber addiction issues. The program’s content was developed based on a systemic literature review of internet addiction research. It teaches skills related to the assessment and treatment of youth who are displaying signs and symptoms of cyber addiction. Further, it provides mental health practitioners with insight into mental health issues underlying or associated with cyber addiction.
The program aims to achieve the following objectives:
- Understand the signs and symptoms of cyber addiction.
- Recognize the connection between cyber addiction and other related mental health issues.
- Learn different cyber addiction perspectives (e.g. interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral, family dynamic, and humanitarian).
- Learn cyber addiction assessment tools and processes.
- Learn different cyber addiction intervention approaches, such as emotional regulation, motivational interviewing, family-based, CBT-IA, and school-based approaches.
- Learn cyber addiction prevention programs.
The program is organized into six modules that address each of the objectives listed above. The modules are delivered throughout a two-day workshop.
- Around 86% of students in Ontario use social media sites daily, and 16% spend at least five hours on social media sites (CAMH, 2016).
- Throughout the world, the average person spends 6 hours a day on the internet (GobalWebIndex, 2018)
- The prevalence of cyber addiction worldwide is estimated at 6%, the equivalent of 420 million people. (Cheng & Li, 2014). Cyber addiction is higher in nations with higher life dissatisfaction.
- Cyber addiction has been associated with many co-occurring mental health issues, including ADHD, social anxiety, hypomania, and depression (Kuss & Lopez-Fernandez, 2016).
- High social media usage leads to compulsive behaviors and symptoms similar to drug withdrawal among addicts when usage is restricted (Griffiths, 2013)
- Frequent social media usage leads to increased amygdala activation among some users, which is related to impulsive behavior. This change in brain activity is also commonly observed in substance addicts (Ghose, 2015).