ICT Addiction: Psychological Intervention

10 March, 2020
To deal with Internet addiction, or information and communication technologies (ICT) addiction, psychological intervention has to involve a multi-disciplinary team of professionals.

Information and communications technology addiction, or ICT addiction, is also sometimes called Internet addiction, has become a real problem in modern society. While you probably usually associate this kind of addiction with children and teens, it’s turning into a serious issue for many adults as well.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Internet addiction is a psycho-emotional and physical illness capable of creating dependence or the need for an activity related to information and communications technology.

If you analyze data from the Spanish Statistical Office, 99.2% of Spanish homes have at least one television. In addition, 96.4% of citizens have a cell phone and more than 75% have access to the Internet. Statistics also show that over 80% of the population between 16 and 74 years of age are active on the Internet.

In other words, ICT use is common in this day and age. Practically everyone looks at their cell phone at some point during the day, plays a video game, or goes on the Internet.

The problem with ICT addiction

A simple activity such as looking at your smartphone to check if you have a message isn’t a problem in and of itself. But what if it becomes so common that you feel anxious when you don’t have your phone close to you?

In that case, you’re dealing with an addiction. If not being able to connect to the Internet causes unnatural anxiety, you have a problem. Experts consider this abuse of new technologies a psychological addiction.

A guy looking at his cell phone at night.

The consequences of this addiction vary and depend on the individual in question. Likewise, different factors will determine how this addiction manifests itself in each person.

The most common symptoms are nervousness, aggressiveness, social isolation, and sleep disorders. However, these aren’t the only symptoms. ICT addictions can affect people in every area of their life.

Psychological treatment for ICT addiction

To address this problem, a specialized psychology team at the Valencian International University published a guide called that lays out a framework for the effective psychological treatment of ICT addiction.

According to the authors, the treatment of this addiction should have two main goals. Firstly, for the patient to recover from their addiction and, secondly, to prevent relapse.

Treatment will involve various specialists, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. Family and close friends also play an important role.

This multidisciplinary team will analyze each case individually and come up with a personalized treatment plan. That way, the problem and its consequences can be treated in every facet of the patient’s life (work, family, social life, etc.).

A woman with her psychologist.

Treatment stages of ICT addiction

Healthcare professionals who specialize in addiction intervention tend to divide the treatment process into four stages:

  • Stage 1 – Motivation. During this stage, the patient recognizes their problem and understands that they need to fix it. Thus, they seek professional help. During this stage, their close circle of friends and family is key.
  • Stage 2 – Detox. The team of experts and professionals help the patient be aware of their ICT addiction and the consequences that it has in their life.
  • Stage 3 – Maintenance. This is a critical moment because it requires immense willpower and patience. Also, the patient will need a lot of support to get back to their normal life once they have the addiction under control.
  • Stage 4 – Rehabilitation. During the last stage, the patient recovers the skills they had before their addiction. Thus, they regain the healthy and natural relationship they used to have with their surroundings.

We should also note that prevention is another way to deal with ICT addiction. Parents and teachers alike should be aware of the risks for their children and teens. After all, they’re their role models, meaning they need to set a good example.