Teenage boys suffering from online addiction is a new reality that parents and caregivers are faced with across the US and abroad. With the advent of the Internet and technological gadgets giving teens 24 hour access to an unlimited supply of visual, emotional, sexual and adrenaline induced stimuli, it is no wonder that online addiction is quickly becoming a topic of intensity within the behavioral and mental health communities.
A study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine concluded that 11 out of 88 persons (roughly 12.5%) suffer from some form of Internet addiction. This trend is thought to be even higher when dealing with teenage boys between the ages of 12 to 19.
Most parents today would agree that participation in online surfing, social sharing and other Internet activity has caused their teenagers to become more withdrawn and introvert in nature—keeping them from participation in physical skillsets such as athletics, music and peer social contact.
Who is more likely to be an online addict?
Although it is difficult to label any demographic as more vulnerable than another, it is widely believed that online addicts are generally those who find the online world more enjoyable than the world around them. The online world allows these individuals to be something they may not feel they are able to portray in real life. Also, the online world may offer them a relief from the frustration, abuse, worry or isolation that their real lives could be providing them.
Some characteristics found to be true a large percentage of the time, are as follows:
- Online addicts are generally male
- They usually have little or no social life
- They often have little or no self-confidence
- They are often lonely, shy, anxious or depressed.
- They suffer from abuse or unfulfilling family lives
Of course, due to the lack of historical data on the subject of online addiction, future surveys will be need to be performed in order to adequately assess the causes and symptoms associated with pervasive use of the Internet. Parents should however watch for signs from their teenagers. If they see teenagers sneaking into rooms to be alone with Internet devices or neglecting family or friends for time online they could be heading down a path of online addiction—a road that mental and behavioral health professionals are gearing up to better understand.