Do you know someone who is finding it hard to concentrate on anything other than the internet? Do they spend more and more time alone watching it? Do they become irritable when other matters take them away from it?
One psychiatrist says around 80% of the youth she treats do not have the mental health conditions they are being medicated for and whose signs and symptoms clear up after a three-week screen fast. These conditions include depression, ADHD/ADD behaviour and bipolar disorder. Only by removing internet use for a few weeks to see if the symptoms are related to that activity alone can a therapist or healthcare provider be sure that the mental health condition is genuine. Even if it is a standalone condition, Dr. Dunckley says that it will be made worse by overuse of the internet.
Internet addiction is a problem. It correlates with increased social isolation and social anxiety. Depression and hostility worsen in Internet addiction among adolescents.
Three Week Screen Fast
Victoria Dunckley’s excellent book, “Reset your Child’s Brain – a 4 Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and Boost Social Skills by reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen Time” is a tried and tested plan for parents to use to help their child unlearn their addictive internet habits. Although she doesn’t deal directly with internet porn addiction, the evidence base is largely the same. The programme takes three weeks, plus it requires an additional one-week of preparation to make sure it goes smoothly.
Internet addictions include gambling, video gaming, social media, dating apps, shopping and pornography.
Internet pornography addiction is potentially more harmful than gaming or social media addictions as it can destroy our natural sexual desire and love for real people.
2015 research into the Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update leads to the conclusion that “Internet pornography addiction fits into the addiction framework and shares similar basic mechanisms with substance addiction.”
The symptoms of excessive porn consumption often mimic those of other disorders. To separate real conditions from porn-induced ones, the best option is to start with a porn fast. Once the brain is no longer hyper-stimulated, it has a chance to recover its natural sensitivity.
The Science of Internet Addiction
In this video the blogger “What I’ve Learned” provides a well-researched tour of the specific brain mechanisms that make the internet (and substances as well as behaviours) addicting. Their aim is to help viewers understand how the Internet is affecting your brain so you don’t start to get controlled by it (17.01).