INFORMATION ABOUT THE ADDICTION TO VIDEO GAMES, SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET INTENSIVE OUTPATIENT PROGRAM (IOP)

Introduction

What to expect in the Screen Addiction Program Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

The program includes evidence-based methods. Our IOP uses the most efficient technique originally used to treat video game addiction, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which we are applying to Video Game, Social Media and Internet Addiction. The program provides psychoeducation to parents and adolescents about how to use electronic devices in moderation and avoid relapse into the addiction. During the groups adolescents will learn about CBT, life skills, social skills, mindfulness, and music therapy in a fun and positive atmosphere. The curriculum helps adolescents to develop awareness and make the connection between the poor habits of spending too many hours on the screen, their mood and the underlying problem. Families will learn healthy communication techniques to improve their relationships with their children and help them to make compromises by introducing new activities at home and outside the house, have more quality family time and find joy outside of screen time.

The program includes two groups a day, one individual session per week, and one medication management group per week. In addition to these three services, the teens’ program offers customized family sessions with parents with or without the teen, and one treatment plan meeting with parents every two weeks. Parents are required to attend the weekly parent training and the teens-parents group each week. The patient’s therapist will assist the family to get additional resources regarding schools, extra-curricular activities, or connect with other professionals when needed. The effectiveness of the treatment is dependent on the level of engagement between both the patients and parents. The program is most effective when parents/caregivers consistently participate in the weekly sessions.

Screen Addiction IOP Schedule

The Screen Addiction IOP takes places 3 times a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3:30pm to 6:30pm for 8 weeks.

Example of the Schedule

3:30pm – 4:00pm

Check-in/ Snacks/ Daily survey

4:00pm – 5:00 pm

Screen addiction Skills Training(Teens Group)

5:00pm – 5:15pm

Break

5:15pm – 6:30pm

Screen addiction Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Teens Group)

Screen Addiction Parent Training (Parents Only)

What is video game (VG), social media and Internet addiction and how does it affect me?

Challenges Families Face with VG, Social Media and Internet Addiction

Many families in the U.S and in the Bay Area are impacted by the stress of life. Teens worry about school and parents are stressed by work and financial responsibilities. Our numerous electronic devices provide fast and easy access to the Internet, social media sites and video games. When this constant access becomes addictive, parents lose the opportunity and ability to guide their teens towards healthy goals and success.

The current generation of adolescents were born into a world with electronic devices present at home and at school. Therefore, it can be challenging for them to live without these devices. Teens use the Internet, social media or online VG to socialize and connect with the world. Adolescents have been absorbed by the technology and the Internet. If they don’t learn how to use these tools in moderation and in healthy ways, it becomes out of control with broad implications on their lives and future successes.

Some children and adolescents who are more at risk to have depression, anxiety and social anxiety may develop an addiction to VG, social media or the Internet. In some situations, teens can become a target of cyberbullying, which may lead to suicidal behavior.

These factors can have a long-lasting negative impact on life and future success. Moreover, this young population can end up losing the power of creativity, having poor grades, avoiding school, and losing interest in socializing face to face, all which may reinforce mental health symptoms.

Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicidal Behavior linked to increased New Media Screen Time

  • The research found (from 500,000 U.S. teens survey) that 48%of teens who spent 5 hours or more per day on electronic devices reported at least ONE SUICIDE-RELATED OUTCOME, compared to only 28% of those who spent less than a hour a day on devices. Depressive symptoms were more common in teens who spent a lot of time on their devices as well. The research also indicates that spending time away from screen and engaging in in-person social interactions, sports, exercise, doing homework, community activities is linked to having fewer depressive symptoms and suicide-related outcomes ((Twenge, 2017).

What is an addiction to video games, social media or the Internet?

Adolescents and young adults experience various psychological and physical symptoms when they are addicted to video games, computers, social media or the Internet.

Psychological symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer or other electronic devices, or while playing video games
  • Inability to stop the activity
  • Craving more and more time at the computer, other electronic devices, or playing video games
  • Neglecting friends and family
  • Feeling empty, depressed or irritable when not at the computer or on other electronic devices
  • Lying to family about activities
  • Having problems with school

Physical symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dry eyes
  • Migraines, headaches
  • Back aches
  • Eating irregularities, skipping meals or not eating at all
  • Failure to attend to personal hygiene
  • Serious sleep disturbances