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Screen addiction: the keys to overcome it

Screen addiction: the keys to overcome it

By A.S. Glover-Bondeau

Screen addiction: what is it?

If I cannot separate myself from my smartphone or tablet, if I am permanently connected to social networks and the first thing I do in the morning is to go online… does that mean that I have an addiction to screens? "No!", The Prof firmly replies. "Today, adolescents and young adults do not usually spend less than 4 hours in front of their screens," he emphasizes. To talk about addiction, several criteria must be met: loss of control (pleasure wins out over reason, need outweighs desire), harmful effects (social and / or health problems) and the suffering of the person. "Simple addiction, to alcohol or gambling, for example, is the invasion of a person's motivations by a single object regardless of the consequences," explains Prof. Michel Reynaud.

"What we call addiction to screens is a more complex addiction, such as sexual addiction", explains the addictologist. There is an addictive dimension (the object of the addiction is the only thing that interests the person) but its negative effects are less clear. For example, “when there is an addiction to screens, problems can arise with the couple or with the family”, reports Prof. Reynaud. Let's not forget that screen addiction is not yet medically recognized. "The inclusion of Internet addiction among non-drug addictions is being questioned within the international classifications", highlights Prof. Who speaks of addiction to screens, usually also refers to a dependence secondary to a pleasure offered by the Internet .

Screen addiction: who and why?

"The Internet offers all the distractions we could wish for: sex, love affairs, games of chance ... It has everything you need to hook up," says the addictologist. According to Young, Internet addicts can be grouped into 5 categories: dependence on cybersex, dependence on the interactive aspect of the Internet (interpersonal relationships online), dependence on a monetary nature (speculation on the stock market), dependence on information and finally, dependence on the computer, on online games.

The connection is a means of identifying another behavioral addiction. “Addiction to professional screens is associated with the phenomenon of work addiction, work invades everything. The screen is only the medium, the perfect tool to never disconnect from work ", indicates Prof. According to data from a study carried out by the OCU published in the OCU-Salud magazine last December, a 25 % of Spaniards between 18 and 64 years old would show symptoms of being hooked on the Internet. In the United States, the Internet addiction rate would be 6% and in China, 10% 1. "In addiction consultations, we often find people of all ages addicted to dating sites, pornography, gambling and young addicted to online video games," says Prof. Reynaud.

The most recent studies on Internet addiction reveal that massively multiplayer role-playing games (MMORPGs, by their name in English) are the ones most likely to create a dependency in users at risk. "The addiction of young people to video games usually translates an underlying psychopathology: social phobia, psychological disorder, schizoid personality ...", highlights the addictologist.

Screen addiction: a treatment based on psychotherapy

Faced with an addiction problem, it is best to go to a specialized addiction consultation. Screen addiction requires the same treatment as recognized addictions, that is, behavioral psychotherapy. The bases of the therapy? Learn to analyze their behavior, to minimize the benefits, to help find other distractions, but also to work on the "why" of this compulsive behavior. "The context is very stimulating, we help the patient to identify when that certain behavior appears", explains the addictologist. Addiction is a way of managing stress, therefore, therapy, in addition to doing a study on consumption and the context of consumption, also focuses on the emotional state. This type of psychotherapy allows to give the person who suffers an addiction the strategy to manage stress and relationships with others.

"In specialized centers, we can also prescribe drugs used for other addictions," adds Prof. The goal is not to achieve abstinence, but to use controlled. Psychotherapy is completed with work with the family and with the couple, "being present can be more comforting than stressful," the doctor emphasizes.

References:
1 - Internet addiction: the emergence of a new clinical disorder. Paper presented at the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association Toronto, 1996.
Sources:
- Interview with Prof. Reynaud, January 8, 2015
- Current practices and useful knowledge for GPs in the field of behavioral addictions: study carried out with 53 doctors from Le Havre (France) on 6 drug-free addictions (gambling, compulsive shopping, Internet addiction, work addiction, addiction physical exercise and sex addiction), Anne-Gaelle Chansin. Human health and pathology. 2012.
- Internet Addiction: Symptoms, Evaluation, And Treatment, Dr. Kimberly S. Young, Innovations in Clinical Practice (Volume 17) by L. VandeCreek
& T. L. Jackson (Eds.), Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press, 1999
- Tackling the addictions of young people - The "Consultations for Young Consumers", a resource to act early and help families and young people, press kit Inpes (French Institute for Prevention and Health Education) , January 2015
- Addictive behaviors in adolescents. Collective experience of the Inserm (French Institute of Health and Medical Research), February 2014
- Addictions without substance, Fédération Addiction, orientation guide

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